Washington Prowler

The Secret Service Is Out

Kerry treats his security detail about the same way Bill Clinton did his. Plus: Kerry’s dirty money -- how much has he raised?

By 6.22.04

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MAN SERVANTS
Presumptive yada yada Sen. John Kerry likes to tell folks that he and former President Bill Clinton are on the same page. Apparently, that's true, at least when it comes to the way Kerry treats his Secret Service detail.

While spending a weekend at the $9 million estate owned by his wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, Kerry was driving his security detail crazy. Instead of sending an aide or assistant into town for what amounted to two bicycle tire tubes, Kerry insisted on going himself, requiring the detail to follow. But Kerry, ever thinking of the little guy, insisted that the detail not use lights or sirens to clear traffic. The end result was that the detail had to work twice as hard to clear the way for Kerry and his $10 errand.

Further, Kerry decided to hit the beach and the water, but didn't want the detail too close behind. Half the detail was forced to sit on the beach with binoculars while Kerry went out on the water in his wife's 31-foot cruiser. In the end, the wind died down, so Kerry came back in. Yet another pointless jaunt to waste other peoples' time.

You'll recall that on private trips home to Massachusetts, Kerry has forced the Secret Service to do everything from book shopping to bicycle pickups. "He's not as bad as President Clinton, but some of these guys aren't happy about the way the family treats them," says a uniformed Secret Service officer. "There is a lot of talk that the Kerry family just treats these folks like more hired help."

DIRTY MONEY
So much attention is being focused on the record-setting pace of the Kerry campaign's fundraising, that the campaign is now trying to see if the $100 million it has raised in the past three months is all legal.

On Saturday it was reported that the Kerry campaign had accepted $2,000 from Chun Jae-yong, the legally challenged son of a former legally challenged president of South Korea. But that was apparently an easy catch to make.

"What has us nervous is the online fundraising," say a Democratic National Committee fundraiser. "Kerry is apparently pulling tons of cash online, but no one over there seems to be paying much attention to where that money is coming from, or how it is being reported. To them, it's like hitting a jackpot. Some of us have a bad feeling about it. With a fundraising tool this new, you just know there are going to be problems and that there is a scandal waiting to happen."

Even more of a concern is the Kerry campaign's apparently successful tactic of holding joint fundraising events with the DNC. Under the plan, Kerry gets the first $2,000 of each donation, and the DNC takes in the rest within legal limits.

"The worst thing for someone who raises money is for there to be any confusion about, first, who is giving the money, and where that money is going," says the DNC fundraiser. "Kerry's fundraising numbers are great, but it is so much so fast that you have to wonder about it."

Currently, the Federal Election Commission isn't. Staff there has just begun to look at the latest filing numbers. "If there is funny business going on with online donations, we may not get to the bottom of it until after November," says an FEC attorney. "That's usually the way it goes with campaign finance stuff. Unless reporters or special interest groups are looking at the stuff."

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