Due to a mechanical error, The Washington Post incorrectly reported yesterday that a fund-raising effort was made in the campaign for Maryland Acting Gov. Blair Lee III "from special interests associated with (suspended former Gov.) Mandel, like race tracks." The sentence should have said "an effort was made . . . to avoid contributions from special interests associated with Mandel." In addition, The Post also reported incorrectly the amount spent on broadcasting by Lee's chief rival, Theodore G. Venetoulis, as $92,000. The correct amount was $105,374.
Despite new campaign contribution limits intended to curb the influence of special interest in Maryland elections, Democratic and Republican contenders in the governor's race have raised a record $2 million, according to reports filed here yesterday.
The two leading Democratic contenders in a four-way primary fight account for more than half the total raised.
The campaign of Acting Gov. Blair Lee III has raised about $600,000 compared to nearly $450,000 for Theodore G. Venetoulis, the Baltimore County executive challenging Lee. Both candidates have spent furiously in recent weeks leaving the Venetoulis war chest with a paltry $8,000 and the Lee campaign nearly $80,000 in debt.
Lee and Venetoulis have poured large sums into an electronic media designed to portray the acting governor as a man of experience and Venetoulis as the harbinger of a "New Maryland."
Since June, Venetoulis has spent $92,000 to project an image of youth and vitality across Washington and Baltimore television screens. Lee appearing at times fatherly and wise, has spent more than twice as much on TV time as Venetoulis.
Contributors who dominated the campaign lists of suspended Gov. Marvin Mandel are largely and conspicuously absent from the Lee and Venetoulis filings.
Lee's strongest monetary support came from Maryland's financial community of banks and investment houses, from state employes and political appointees, from builders and realtors, largely from the Washington area, and from his own family.
"I've known him longer and better than anyone else," said Elizabeth W. Aspinwall, Lee's mother, who gave $800."He was always a very good and bright little boy." Altogether Lee family members and corporations contributed more than $27,000 to the campaign.
Venetoulis did especially well with Baltimore area builders and contractors, many of whom have done business with Baltimore County, with the Greek community and with organized labor.
Members of the Greek community, ranging from here to Salt Lake City, raised and contributed about $70,000, with "ethnic pride a factor, definitely," according to Anthony Bravos, a Greek dentist who spearheaded the effort.
Both Lee and Venetoulis drew support from organized labor, but the Venetoulis money, nearly $30,000, was three times as much as Lee got. Lee's labor backing came largely from Washington-based international unions, while Venetoulis' came mostly from Baltimore area locals.
Donor ceilings adopted after the 1974 campaign-after Mandel raised nearly $1 million in a single night's fund-raiser were drawn to limit contributions to $1,000 per candidate and $2,500 per campaign. The new law was designed to assuage public concerns that some of Mandel's heavy contributors had an unfair advantage in landing state contracts and appointments to state regulatory commissions.
Under a state attorney general's ruling this summer, contributors are being allowed to funnel an extra $1,000 to a candidate for lieutenant-governor. Thus, State Senate President Steny Hoyer, Lee's running mate, has received about $20,000 in his own name since joining the governor's ticket. Ann C. Stockett, an Anne Arundel County councilwoman and Venetoulis' running mate, has received $13,000 in her own name.
Venetoulis has more contributors - 5,531 - than any other candidate, and the lowest average contribution, $80. Both figures are a source of some pride to Venetoulis and his chief fund-raiser, builder-developer Michael Yerman, who calls it "a poor people's campaign, basically."
Yeramn described Robinson as the largest single contributor to the Venetoulis campaign, "somebody who thought a lot of Ted and is interested in good government."
"I believe in the candidate," explained Robinson. "He'll make a good governor. He's honest."
Attorney General Francis B. Burch, who dropped out of the race in July and since has thrown his support to Lee, received the highest average contribution among Democrats, $257, to $217 for Lee. During his 18-month drive, Burch raised $411,000 and spent nearly all of it. Burch had no contributions under $100.
The Lee donor list is liberally sprinkled with lawyers, doctors and bankers. Venetoulis has professionals on his contributors lists as well, but the Baltimore County executive has many $5 and $10 contributions from persons who are not.
The Greek network in the Venetoulis campaign is awesome, reaching as far as Salt Lake City, to real estate salesman William D. Corcorinis. Corcorinis said he met Venetoulis at a Greek Orthodox Church conclave in Detroit last year. Unsolicited, he sent the candidate $50.
Lee made a special appeal to the state's established financial community, which had not been active in recent campaigns. Lee appointed the state's banking commissioner on the sole recommendation of members of the financial community who raised or contributed more than $25,000 to the acting governor. Lee said later, there was "no quid pro quo in it."
Venetoulis received at least $65,000 from developers and contractors who seek county contracts, permits and zoning changes. Venetoulis said he made no direct appeals to such people and disclaimed any responsibility for their failure or success in getting county work or needed approvals.
The Venetoulis fund-raising strategy, according to Yerman, is "to go back to the same people and ask them to give again." Blair Lee IV, deputy campaign manager in charge of fund-raising and media, said an effort was made in his father's campaign from special interests associated with Mandel like race tracks.