Sunday, September 21, 2003

Senator Splunge: Looking for Loopholes

The Washington Times says there are "Problems for John Kerry". Dean continues to lead, Clark is crowding out the spotlight, and money is starting to get tight. The problem is that the current campaign financing rules state that Kerry's wife Teresa Heinz can only give $2000 to her hubby's campaign. So, it's time to start searching for ways around the law:

Speaking of fortune, the political strategists are busy devising scenarios about how an increasingly desperate Mr. Kerry could get his hands on his wife's $550 million Heinz-ketchup inheritance. According to the consensus interpretation of campaign-finance law, Teresa Heinz Kerry is limited to contributing $2,000 to her husband's campaign. If he had to draw upon his own resources, Mr. Kerry told The Washington Post in March that he could "put a certain amount into [the campaign], but when you talk about self-funding, could I do an entire campaign? The answer is 'profoundly no.' " In June, the Kerry campaign told the Associated Press that it had concluded that the Massachusetts senator could not legally use any of his wife's fortune for his presidential race. Today, there is speculation that Mrs. Kerry may try to transfer Heinz trust assets into a joint account, half of which he could divert to his campaign. Such an action would certainly be challenged in court by his competitors. Another possible loophole would be an "independent expenditure" campaign waged by his wife, who in the past has indicated she would open her coffers if she felt she and the senator had come under personal attack.

She's set the bar pretty high, no? I'm guessing there's a fair chance that an American politician will wage personal attacks on another politician. After all, when the definition of your career is to impose your judgment and opinion onto public policy, how can it not be personal?

My feeling is that Kerry will start sponging up the ketchup cash when Dean announces he's foregoing federal matching funds. He'll have 57 varieties of reasons why he has to tap into the Heinz fortune so he can respond to the Dean juggernaut. If he does, however, Teresa will have to contend with a high-publicity stink over the circumvention of campaign laws and a potential boycott of Heinz products. I, for one, will be listing them all (did you know they own Weight Watchers?) Stay tuned.

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