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The Boston Globe OnlineBoston.com Boston Globe Online / Nation | World
Kennedy returns $92,000, but war chest robust as he leaves House

By John M. Biers States News Service, 04/16/98

ASHINGTON - Representative Joseph P. Kennedy II's massive campaign war chest has shrunk by more than $92,000 following his decision to retire from the House.

The Brighton Democrat, who announced on March 13 that he would not seek reelection this November, returned $92,566 in campaign contributions as of March 31, according to reports filed yesterday.

Federal campaign law requires candidates who retire in the middle of a campaign season to return donations for the upcoming general campaign, but not the primary. Most of Kennedy's reimbursements were required under the law, according to Kennedy spokeswoman Amy Simmons.

Kennedy raised $183,255 during the period covering Jan. 1 to March 31. His war chest now totals $1,478,662, among the biggest in the House. Kennedy has said he plans to keep the money in a campaign account, a decision that indicates he may seek federal office in the future.

Elsewhere, two Massachusetts Democrats who are expected to face spirited reelection contests this November have increased their fundraising advantages over their GOP challengers.

Freshmen Representatives John F. Tierney of Salem and James P. McGovern of Worcester widened their leads in the most recent three-month fundraising period.

Tierney, with $210,695 in cash on hand, has about four times the available funds of former Representative Peter Torkildsen, the Danvers Republican whom Tierney unseated in 1996.

With $249,091 in available funds, McGovern enjoys a warchest more than three times the size of that of his challenger, Worcester State Senator Matt Amorello, according to reports filed yesterday with the Federal Election Commission.

Both challengers said that incumbents usually enjoy fund-raising leads early in a race and that their current war chests left them well positioned to mount effective campaigns.

''That's not a problem,'' said Torkildsen spokesman Gene Hartigan. ''It's only April.''

Hartigan said Torkildsen raised $119,588 compared with Tierney's $103,652 during the reporting period that concluded March 31. But Torkildsen spent almost three times more than Tierney on campaign operating costs.

Overall, Torkildsen, who beat Tierney in 1994 before losing narrowly in 1996, has $52,812 in cash on hand.

Amorello took in $62,910 during the first three months of 1998, bringing his total in available funds to $77,854. During the same period, McGovern raised $144,326.

Torkildsen's campaign released a statement attacking the incumbent on a number of counts, including Tierney's outstanding $98,060 debt from his unsuccessful 1994 race.

Tierney's campaign owes the majority of the debt, $82,000, to Tierney's personal bank account, according to FEC records. Tierney spokesman David Williams said the congressman planned to raise the money to repay himself, but had no specific time frame for doing so.

Candidates must report any outstanding loans under federal law, but face no deadlines for paying debt. Federal candidates frequently opt to forgive loans from their personal accounts to their campaigns.

Tierney also owes $15,000 to his political consultant and $1,060 to a Salem hotel for the costs of a fundraiser. Williams said the campaign regularly does business and enjoys an amicable relationship with both vendors.

''You wouldn't expect [the vendor] to continue to do business if you didn't pay your bills,'' he said. ''I'm certainly confident that our obligations are being met or there's a satisfactory understanding about when they will be cleared.''

This story ran on page A15 of the Boston Globe on 04/16/98.
© Copyright 1998 Globe Newspaper Company.

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