Washington Prowler

John Edwards’ Unpaid Debts

And other examples of Democratic campaign activity. Plus: Pelosi's Big Labors. Also: Squatter Lott

By 1.6.03

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RAISING HAY
Political fundraisers say they are interested to see how all of the Democrats will be able to fundraise against each other. As it stands -- excepting Sen. John Kerry's personal wealth -- all of them appear to be starting from the same position.

Recent Federal Election Commission filings indicate that almost all of the prospective Democratic candidates have nearly $2 million banked in some political accounts: personal PACs, campaign accounts or exploratory committee accounts. Only Vermont Gov. Howie Dean has raised less. Way less. He has about $125,000 banked.

Sen. Tom Daschle has more than $1.8 million, and he's on the low end for the hopefuls. Sens. John Edwards, Kerry, and Joe Lieberman all raised more than $2 million this past year. Lieberman, ever the gentleman, spent almost all of it helping his party's candidates around the country. He has almost three-quarters of a million in the bank. "Getting more will not be a problem," says a Lieberman Senate staffer. "He's been keeping all of his fundraisers busy making sure they know he's going to need their help soon."

Perhaps most interesting in the filings is that John Edwards continues to carry as much as $6 million in debt from this first Senate campaign. Should he lose in his presidential bid, and not retain his Senate seat, he may have to up his per-hour rate as a country lawyer for "regular folk" to pay it off.

AN OVERSIGHT
House minority leader Nancy Pelosi made clear on Monday who's going to be buttering her party's political bread in the coming year or two, not that she's bragging about it. In unveiling her caucus's economic stimulus package to reporters, she neglected to credit assistance from the legislative affairs office of the AFL-CIO, which helped put the plan together with House leadership staffers.

"It wasn't like they signed off on the plan, but they knew in advance what we were doing and were enthusiastic supporters," says a Democratic staffer on the Joint Economic Committee.

Despite arguments by moderate Democrats to include a broad-based tax cut and/or refund to families with incomes greater than $80,000 to $100,000, Pelosi's left-leaning leadership team instead focused on putting together a plan that they hoped would energize their base. "They weren't interested in helping the people who consistently are the most taxed group in America," says a staffer for a conservative Democratic House member. "It was all about helping the lower end of the economic spectrum."

SENATE SQUATTER
For someone who claims to know so much about the inner-workings of the Senate, Trent Lott seems awfully forgetful.

With the Senate kicking into business mode today, the outgoing party leader hasn't moved out of his leadership offices, meaning new majority leader Sen. Bill Frist is still using his personal offices for leadership meetings.

According to a Frist leadership source, Lott, while not being wholly uncooperative about a move, suggested that they simply hang the Majority Leader shingle over Frist's office space, in a manner similar to House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, who replaced his House Whip shingle on Monday with the leadership title.

"We all understand what Lott is up against," says a Senate leadership source. "He hasn't been unclassy about what is happening, but he isn't moving as fast as he could."

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