Sunday, February 8, 1998
Section: NEWS
By Jon Sawyer
And David Mitchell
Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau

Sen. Carol Moseley-Braun, D-Ill., facing what is expected to be a tough re-election campaign, began the year with less money in the bank than either of her two Republican challengers.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show that as of Dec. 31, Moseley-Braun had $368,308 in cash on hand. State Comptroller Loleta Didrickson reported $462,080 in cash on hand. State Sen. Peter Fitzgerald reported $580,532, from proceeds of a personal loan he has made to the campaign.

Mike Briggs, Moseley-Braun's press secretary, said she had raised $250,000 in January, most of it from a fund-raiser that featured Vice President Al Gore. He also noted that Moseley-Braun faces no opposition in the Democratic primary March 17. "Both of the candidates in the contested Republican primary will have a lot more need to spend money in the next several weeks," Briggs said.

Filings with the commission showed that House Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt, D-St. Louis County, maintained his standing as one of the pr emier fund-raisers in either party. He reported nearly $2 million in cash on hand for his congressional campaign. Gephardt raised $691,608 in the second half of 1997, with $400,000 in contributions from California, New York and the Washington area.

Indian tribes across the country gave Gephardt $36,500. Prominent individual donors included the families of Ernest and Julio Gallo, the California vintners, who gave $7,000; movie producers David Geffen and Jeffrey Katzenberg of DreamWorks, who each gave $1,000; and director/actress Penny Marshall, who gave $2,000.

Gephardt's totals for the year also include a $500,000 transfer from the Democratic Leader's Victory Fund, a separate fund-raising vehicle created for the major fund-raiser Gephardt held at Grant's Farm last June. That event also raised $400,000 for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

Gephardt's St. Louis-area contributors included former Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton, who gave $2,000. Among those donating $1,000 were August A. Busch III, chairman of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc.; St. Louis Rams owner E. Stanley Kroenke; Pulitzer Publishing Co. Chairman Michael E. Pulitzer and Apex Oil Co. president Paul A. Novelly.

Gephardt raised an additional $334,946 for the Effective Government Committee, the "leadership" political action committee he uses as a vehicle to help other Democratic candidates. The committee's disbursements for 1997 totaled $348,829 and included just $8,000 in contributions to congressional campaigns. Aides noted that in prior years the committee has made the great majority of its contributions during the election year.

Sen. John Ashcroft, R-Mo., has stumped the country as aggressively in recent months as Gephardt and makes no secret that he is eyeing a bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. The commission reports show that he's not yet in Gephardt's league when it comes to pulling in cash, however. His leadership PAC, the Spirit of America, reported contributions of $235,500 for calendar 1997. That placed him tenth on the list of top congressional PACs, compared with Gephardt's rank of fifth.

Jack Oliver, the newly named executive director of Ashcroft's PAC, said Ashcroft's fund-raising last year had focused on his Senate campaign committee, which raised $457,870 in the second half of 1997 and ended the year with $393,350 in cash on hand. He said pledges totaling $300,000 had been made to the leadership committee in January alone and that Ashcroft had set himself an ambitious money goal for 1998:

"We'll attempt to raise over $1 million for Spirit of America to help elect conservative men and women across America," Oliver said.

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