Washington Prowler

Kerry Compliance

Proof the French-looker thinks he's clinched the Democratic nomination. Also: Gephardt wins stealth endorsements.

By 5.1.03

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HE THINKS HE'LL WIN
Sen. John Kerry apparently is pretty confident that he will be the Democratic nominee for President. That is because he has been taking money from his main presidential primary fundraising account and stashing it in a secondary account known as a General Election Legal and Accounting Compliance fund.

While Kerry can spend any or all of the money in his primary campaign account at any time, his GELAC fund can only be used to cover expenses in the general election, assuming he wins the Democratic nomination.

"Either he's really confident he's going to win, or he's playing very fast and loose with campaign finance laws," says a campaign staffer for Sen. John Edwards. "I know he's allowed to have a GELAC fund, but I don't think it was intended to be used the way he is using it."

Kerry appears to be using the GELAC fund to siphon off money from those contributors who have reached the $2,000 campaign limit. Once those monies have been placed in the GELAC fund, Kerry is able to turn to those donors again for an additional $2,000, which is then deposited in the account used for the presidential primary. Kerry cannot touch the GELAC fund until he wins the nomination, and those whose money is in the account would not be able to contribute again for the general election.

"This is probably the strongest indication we have that he intends to use his own money to win this thing," says a Republican National Committee staffer. "He's burning his best donors early, and can't go back to them again."

No one in presidential campaign history has opened a GELAC fund this early. But Kerry staffers say that the GELAC fund is a perfectly acceptable campaign tool and that every other Democratic candidate will probably open one soon to ensure there is money that can be spent during the period between the Democratic convention and the Republican convention almost a month later in early September.

"There is always that down time when campaigns are struggling for money leading into the fall race," says a Democratic National Committee staffer. "The GELAC funds are critical to keeping us in the public view before federal financing can kick in in the fall."

Kerry would be able to use his and his vice-presidential choice's GELAC funds in that period of time, and then if he chooses announce that he is taking his personal wealth and putting it on the table for the general election.

SOUNDS OF SILENCE
In the wake of continuing rumors of his Democratic colleagues jumping off a sinking ship, Dick Gephardt presidential staffers were leaking word on Wednesday morning that their boss in fact has received the endorsement of House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, her second in charge Rep. Steny Hoyer, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Bob Matsui.

"In fact, we're going to have a long list of endorsements in the coming weeks," says a Gephardt staffer.

No word yet on when a complete list of names will be released. But the Gephardt staffer indicated that a full list would be made available in coming days and a formal endorsement ceremony with Gephardt's House colleagues would be held.

Interestingly, no special press conference will be held with Pelosi or House Democratic leadership, raising the question just how committed Pelosi is to Gephardt. "I don't know," said a House Democratic Leadership staffer. "It's not clear to any of us that she's overly enthusiastic about this. But he was very generous with his time and support as leader, and she is grateful to him."

Now that's what you call a ringing endorsement.

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