Sunday, February 11, 2001
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Posted on: Sunday, February 11, 2001

Abercrombie top spender among federal candidates

By Susan Roth
Gannett News Service

WASHINGTON — Hawaii candidates for federal office in 2000 raised a total of more than $2 million in the last two years, led by Democratic Rep. Neil Abercrombie.

Abercrombie, who faced minor opposition from Republican Philip Meyers, raised more than $800,000 to run for his sixth two-year term and spent $722,133. He ended the year with $120,388 on hand and $12,782 in debts.

Sen. Daniel Akaka, who also easily won re-election, ended the election cycle with the most cash on hand — nearly $300,000.

Rep. Patsy Mink had the most debt — $127,570.

The Democratic incumbents raised hundreds of thousands of dollars more than their challengers, according to the most recent reports they filed with the Federal Election Commission. More than half of the money came from political action committees and most of that from organized labor.

Russ Francis, the former National Football League player who ran against Mink, led the Republican challengers with a total of $200,038 raised, according to his most recent campaign finance report.

In contrast with the Democrats, Francis and John Carroll, who opposed Akaka, received most of their money from individual donors. Meyers got about half of his money from individuals and half from political action committees.

Abercrombie received more than $320,000 from organized labor but also took in substantial donations from transportation, finance, and insurance and health care groups. Of the three incumbents, Abercrombie had the highest ratio of donations from out of state: 35 percent of his itemized contributions from individuals were from outside Hawaii.

Akaka, who came in second in overall fund raising, took in a total of $601,881 and spent $428,516. He wound up with $299,090 cash on hand and no debts. The junior senator received about $147,000 from organized labor, but also got significant amounts from banking and finance, transportation and health care groups, as well as dairy farmers. A member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Akaka also received money from energy companies.

Mink raised a total of $348,363 and spent $337,420. She had $95,641 on hand at the end of the year, but owed $127,570. She got about $148,000 from labor unions and much smaller amounts from trial lawyers and other legal groups and agricultural political action committees. A significant number of her individual donors identified themselves as farmers.

All the Democrats received substantial amounts from the Hawaii diversified company Alexander & Baldwin and from sugar political action committees. They also got money from homosexual rights and abortion rights groups.

Akaka and Mink also received donations from Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta’s congressional campaign committee. Mineta, a former House member, was named commerce secretary last year by President Clinton and last month became the only Democrat in President Bush’s Cabinet.

The Hawaii Democrats’ three challengers have not yet filed year-end reports as required by federal law. Carroll is the most behind, having filed his last report for receipts through Oct. 18after receiving a warning letter from the Federal Election Commission.

The latest campaign report filed by Francis is dated Nov. 27 and Meyers filed Dec. 12.

According to the most recent reports available, Carroll, a former chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party, had raised $107,253 and spent $97,407 as of Oct. 18. He had $9,845 on hand and owed $125,000. Carroll said he has been recovering from a December bicycle accident.

As of Nov. 27, Francis reported spending $195,390. He had $4,644 on hand and owed $21,955. Most of his report’s entries for individual donors are not complete, failing to list the donor’s employer or occupation.

Francis received significant donations from Republican members of Congress, including Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, fellow former football player Steve Largent of Oklahoma, Charlie Norwood of Georgia, Richard Pombo and Christopher Cox of California and Zach Wamp of Tennessee.

Francis said he has not filed updated reports because the illness and recent death of his mother kept him on the Mainland.

According to his most recent report, Meyers raised $22,892 and spent $22,042. He had no cash on hand and no debts. Meyer, who is a medical doctor, received $7,000 from the American Medical Association political action committee.

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