Washington Prowler

Lieberman Goes for Broke

The high cost of political living. Plus: Edwards avoids Human Rights Campaign.

By 7.16.03

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Much is being made of the sudden departure of Sen. Joe Lieberman's chief fundraiser, Shari Yost. As word trickles out that Lieberman had a poor fundraising cycle, compared to other Democratic presidential hopefuls, Lieberman hasn't wasted any time filling the slot. It's expected that Tracy Sturman, an Al Gore fundraiser, will step in for the time being.

The Lieberman camp is attempting to spin Yost's exist as more of a cost-cutting measure, but in reality it's all about a foundering campaign that waited too long to staff up and when it did staff up was not careful in how it paid out salaries.

For example, both of the Lieberman children who are on the campaign are earning six-figure salaries. While it's fairly common for candidates of all ilk to bring family on board, the Lieberman payouts were surprisingly excessive for a man who prides himself on watching the bottom line.

Lieberman pulled in about $5 million for the second quarter, but almost 50 percent of that money came in the last two weeks of June during a desperate passing of the hat via pleading e-mails and several fundraisers in California and Connecticut.

Lieberman is now being placed in the same category as Rep. Dick Gephardt, who also had a poor fundraising quarter. But unlike Gephardt, Lieberman isn't going around Washington begging for a second chance to prove himself. This is either a sign that Lieberman is confident his new team will perform for him, or maybe he's just given up.

BACK IN THE CLOSET
On Tuesday seven of the nine Democrats running for president made nice with the Human Rights Campaign, which is meeting in Washington, D.C. The two who did not attend the conference were Sens. John Edwards and Bob Graham. Human Rights Campaign, which is considered to be the most influential gay rights and alternative lifestyles lobby, had Sam Donaldson moderate a question and answer period with the seven candidates, focusing on such issues as gay rights and same sex marriage.

Edwards' decision not to attend was surprising, if only because he had been invited to serve as the keynote speaker at a Human Rights Campaign dinner in Atlanta two months ago. But apparently he took a pass out of concern that his presence at several such events would damage his standing in conservative North Carolina.

It should come as no surprise that the three most ardent backers of the Human Rights Campaign agenda are the three also-rans, who may not survive the summer: Carol Moseley Braun, Dennis Kucinich, and the Rev. Al Sharpton.

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