Barbra's Not The Only One Hedging Her Bets: This week we learned that Barbra Streisand had given $1,000 checks to Al Sharpton, John Edwards and four other Democratic presidential candidates. Now, the Center for Responsive Politics reports that 554 donors and their spouses gave money to two or more of the Democratic candidates in the first quarter of this year.
None of them hit the high note of Streisand's six, but Philadelphia philanthropist Peter Buttenweiser and his wife topped her in total amount given, with $14,500 to five Democrats - Edwards, Howard Dean, Dick Gephardt, John Kerry and Joe Lieberman. Norman Pattiz, the CEO of Westwood One, was next with a total of $9,000 to the same five candidates as Buttenweiser.
Other multiple donors included Slimfast founder Daniel Abraham (Dean, Gephardt, Bob Graham, Lieberman), former White House counsel and Washington lobbyist Jack Quinn (Gephardt, Kerry and Dean) and Gail Zappa, widow of musician Frank Zappa (Edwards, Gephardt and Kerry).
President Bush's campaign did not file until this quarter so the real hedgers won't become public for a few more months.
Gephardt Doing Better In Iowa Than Wall Street: A new poll in Iowa shows Rep. Richard Gephardt, D-Mo, with a 13-point lead over his nearest competitor for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. At the same time, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch analyzes Gephardt's personal finances and finds that the longtime lawmaker is no Wall Street wizard.
It's no news that the Gephardts aren't rolling in it. For example, it's long been known that the congressman and his wife, Jane, sold their suburban Washington home after Gephardt's failed 1998 presidential bid, in part to pay back the $50,000 he loaned the campaign. But the Post-Dispatch did find some nuggets that illustrate the Gephardts, like many other Americans, have suffered from bad luck and bad timing, as well as the last three years of pathetic Wall Street performance.
The couple invested a $500,000 inheritance that Jane Gephardt received from her parents in high-tech funds (as well as more "staid investments") in the summer of 2000. Nowadays, that $500K nest egg is worth more like $250K. "Like most Americans, we had a bad two years," Gephardt told the paper. "We don't have a lot of money. We've never had a lot of money."
Of course, the Gephardt's aren't exactly poor. In 2002, he made $166,7000 as House Minority Leader, and his wife earned between $13,000 and $19,000 as the manager of a pediatrician's office. That income puts them well into the top ten percent of American households. And the couple lives in $470,000 townhouse in D.C.
According to Gephardt's 2001 House financial disclosure report (the most recent available), the couple had between $134,000 and $610,000 in assets besides their two homes, and that total included Jane's now-depleted inheritance. The couple also reported between $65,002 and $150,000 in debt, including student loans from the children's private colleges. (The couple did buy a North Carolina beach house, which they sold in 1996 to help pay the kids' education bills.)
Of course, it's important to note that Gephardt's lack of assets stems from his 27 years as a public servant who has not cashed in on a massive book deal or taken large payments for speaking junkets. For example, he received no advance for his 1999 book, "An Even Better Place," and gave the $35,000 in royalties to charity.
In the good news for Gephardt department, the new Iowa poll, conducted by Research 2000 for CBS affiliate KCCI, found that among 400 likely Democratic caucus voters, 27 percent said they'd vote for Gephardt if the voting were held today. Kerry was next with 14 percent, followed by Howard Dean at 11 percent and Joe Lieberman at 10 percent. The rest of the field was in the low single digits.
Gephardt, from neighboring Missouri, won the 1988 Iowa caucuses but later faded. Winning the state is considered a linchpin in his 2004 strategy.
Bad Poll Week For Billary: Sammy Sosa, Martha Stewart and Howell Raines may have had bad weeks, but in the world of imaginary campaign polls, the Clintons didn't fare too well either.
A Marist poll conducted in New York on May 12 (but not released until June 5) showed that former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani would beat Hillary Clinton in a Senate race, 56 percent to 39 percent. Of course Hillary is not up again until 2006, and most believe that Rudy is more interested in running for governor in 2006 as a stepping stone to the White House in 2008. Nonetheless, it shows that HRC has some vulnerabilities in her home state.
On the question that former President Clinton raised about amending the Constitution to allow presidents to run more than twice, only 20 percent agree with him while 75 percent disagree. The survey by Opinion Dynamics for Fox also showed President Bush trouncing former President Bill Clinton, 53 percent to 32 percent if that election were actually held now.
Talk About Bad Timing: The U.S. House regularly passes resolutions honoring famous people and Monday's 372-0 vote praising Sammy Sosa as a role model garnered very little attention. That is until he was caught using a corked bat the very next day.
Sosa claimed the use of the illegal bat was a mistake and the other bats in his locker eventually checked out as legal. But even though the scandal has tarnished his reputation a tad, the members of Congress who sponsored the Sosa resolution still plan on honoring the Chicago Cub during a ceremony today at Wrigley Field.
Two of the bill's co-sponsors, Reps. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., told the Chicago Sun-Times they're still planning on presenting Sosa with a copy of the resolution today, unless Sosa calls off the idea.
"Nothing has changed for me," Gutierrez said. "I am not a fair weather fan of Sammy Sosa."
He did add that if any of Sosa's other bats had turned out to be illegal, he "would have rolled up the resolution and sent to him in the mail," reports the Associated Press.
Another co-sponsor, Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., wasn't as supportive saying the corked bat incident "takes some of the awe away."
Rep. William Lipinski, D-Ill., refused to join the growing criticism of the slugger, especially since Sosa plays for the Cubs, a team that hasn't won the World Series since 1908. "The poor Cubs have had enough trouble over the course of the years," Lipinski, a supporter of the cross-town Chicago White Sox, said. "I don't have to heap any more problems upon them."
Lieberman Snags South: Highly regarded California political consultant Garry South has signed on with Sen. Joe Lieberman's Democratic presidential campaign. South, credited with masterminding California Gov. Gray Davis' last three election wins, will be a senior adviser for Lieberman.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, South said of the 2000 Democratic VP candidate: "He's tough on defense, strong on the economy, responsible on fiscal matters and progressive on social issues. Also, he has a likable style. We are not going to beat a popular president, even if our voters dislike or even hate him, without fielding a popular candidate of our own."
South, who will work from California, could help Lieberman in the state, where no frontrunner has emerged among the Democratic wannabes.
Among South's smartest strategic moves for Davis was a decision to spend $10 million during the Republican gubernatorial primary last year between former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan and Bill Simon Jr. South saw Simon as a weaker opponent for Davis, so the Davis campaign started running pro-Simon ads during the GOP primary fight, which Simon eventually won. Of course, in the end, South was right: Davis trounced Simon in the general election.
Quote of the Day: "Today is June 6th and I'll never forget June 6th." – Sen. John Kerry, talking yesterday about the day he came home from Vietnam, the day Robert Kennedy was killed, etc. Problem was that Thursday was June 5th. (Washington Post)