- The Washington Times - Monday, August 12, 2002

Freshman Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York is proving to be one of the Democrats' biggest weapons in the midterm elections, donating far more money than her Senate party leaders to Democratic candidates.
Mrs. Clinton's leadership political action committee, HILLPAC, has donated $469,000 to Senate and House Democratic candidates in this election cycle, according to Federal Election Commission records through June 30.
Patricia Solis Doyle, executive director of HILLPAC, said the aggressive pace of contributions to fellow Democrats should quiet accusations that Mrs. Clinton intends to hoard donations to her leadership PAC for a presidential bid.
"Our mission is to get Democrats elected," she said. HILLPAC had a relatively low $62,557 in available cash.
Leadership PACs are usually viewed as a tool for higher office. About 20 senators have leadership PACS, but it is rare for a freshman such as Mrs. Clinton to have one.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's DASHPAC has contributed $269,000 to Democrats in the same 18-month period, leaving about $1.1 million in the fund. The South Dakota Democrat is up for re-election in 2004 and has not ruled out a run for the presidency.
Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut, the party's vice-presidential candidate in 2000, has contributed $245,000 to fellow Democrats from his leadership PAC, with more than $800,000 in cash on hand. And Assistant Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has kicked in $169,000 for Democratic candidates.
Mrs. Clinton has said she intends to serve her full six-year term as senator, which would preclude a presidential bid in 2004. But some political strategists say spreading money around to a large number of fellow Democrats could serve her better for any national ambitions in the future.
"To the degree that she wants to keep national options open down the road, this is a better way to do it," said David Dougherty, a Democrat and vice president of Global Strategy Group in Washington.
Mrs. Clinton's fund-raising machine is pulling in so much cash that she recently moved the New York office of HILLPAC to a more spacious suite in Manhattan. The move boosted HILLPAC's rent from $562 to $3,103 per month.
"She's a star, and she can raise an awful lot of money," Mr. Dougherty said. "She's in a great position to do it in the beginning of her term, in New York, with her name."
Her donor base includes a broad range of well-known liberals, among them model Christie Brinkley ($5,000); Robert Johnson, chairman of Black Entertainment Television ($5,000); and Dreamworks founder Jeffrey Katzenbach ($2,500).
Among those who have contributed $10,000 to HILLPAC is Mrs. Clinton's longtime friend, Walter Kaye, who referred Monica Lewinsky to the White House for an internship.
Former Clinton administration officials John Podesta and Henry Cisneros have donated, too.
HILLPAC has donated money to 52 Democratic House candidates and 23 Senate candidates. Few of those recipients are in the Deep South; only two House candidates in Arkansas, one in Mississippi (Rep. Ronnie Shows) and one in Florida have taken money from HILLPAC.
One Democrat, Rep. Brad Carson of Oklahoma, returned $2,000 to HILLPAC. He represents a conservative district, and a spokesman said Mr. Carson "didn't want to start any unwanted controversy that was not needed."
Mrs. Clinton's wealthy colleague, Sen. Jon Corzine of New Jersey, is also helping Democratic candidates, with huge donations of unregulated "soft" money from his personal fortune.
The latest FEC records show that Mr. Corzine has contributed more than $820,000 in soft money to the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic campaign committees for the House and Senate in this election cycle.
His soft money donations nearly equal the soft money contributions of Enron Corp. and WorldCom combined they have given a total of $850,000 in this cycle.
Mr. Corzine was chairman of the investment banking firm Goldman Sachs in New York, where he received $320 million in its stock by taking the company public before he retired in 1999. He spent more than $60 million on his Senate race in 2000.

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