When it comes to raising special interest campaign money for House races, Northern Virginia Republican Rep. Stanford Parris is the Washington area's undisputed leader of the PACs.
Although the November election is eight months away, a Parris aide says the 8th District incumbent has raised nearly $95,000 in contributions from an array of corporate political action committees, far more than any of the area's other House incumbents, Democrats or Republicans.
"We're raising every dime we can," said Parris aide Dick Leggett. "We will take oil company money, money from banks, Realtors, milk producers . . . anyone who agrees with our general business and industry philosophy." Leggett says Parris hopes to raise about $300,000 in PAC money, half the amount Parris strategists say they plan to spend in their bid to keep former Democratic Rep. Herbert E. Harris from recapturing his old seat.
PACs are also likely to be major factors in financing the races for Senate seats in Maryland and Virginia this fall. Maryland's Democratic Sen. Paul Sarbanes has raised about $115,000 in PAC money, according to campaign treasurer Charles Kerr, who says Sarbanes expects to spend more than $1 million on his fall race. Sarbanes, who has been targeted for defeat by the National Conservative Political Action Committee, has received PAC money from the United Autoworkers, the Mortgage Bankers and the Washington law firm of Dickstein, Shapiro and Morin.
Campaign officials for Republican Rep. Paul S. Trible of Newport News, who is running for the Virginia senate seat being vacated by Harry F. Byrd Jr., declined to reveal how much PAC money Trible has received. "It's not much," said treasurer Doug Lewis.
Other area House incumbents have raised only a fraction of the PAC money Parris has received from groups ranging from the Chicago-based American Medical PAC ($5,000) to the Dallas Energy PAC ($2,500).
His counterpart in Virginia's 10th District, freshman Republican Frank Wolf, has raised more than $27,000 in PAC money, according to campaign officials. A former baby food lobbyist who won an upset victory over three-term Democrat Joseph L. Fisher in 1980, Wolf has received contributions from the PACs formed by Congoleum, California Canners and Growers, AMOCO, Detroit Edison and Continental Telephone of Virginia.
Wolf said he refrained from soliciting PAC money last year because he didn't want to hurt the fund-raising efforts of the GOP's candidates for state office.
In Maryland, Democrat Steny Hoyer has received $5,100 in PAC money from groups including the American Bankers Association, the National Education Association and the Seafarers Union. Aides to Democrat Michael Barnes said he has raised more than $8,100 in PAC money. Republican Marjorie Holt has raised $11,000, according to aide Mike Owen, who says Holt plans to spend about $125,000 in her bid for a sixth term.
Because Holt flirted with the idea of running for the Senate, "We haven't done any aggressive hustling recently" for PAC contributions, Owen said.
The same cannot be said for Parris, who last year began raising money for his reelection campaign. Last November he hired a full-time PAC-man to contact special interest groups across the nation in search of contributions.
Leggett said Parris needs as much PAC money as he can raise to combat "all the perks labor can offer Herb Harris . But we're looking very hard to see that no industry contributes a disproportionate share. But we're running very hard. We're going to fight hand-to-hand for every vote and every dollar."
Harris, who says he hopes to raise about $400,000, has raised about $20,000 in PAC money, much of it from unions, including the United Steelworkers and the Machinists. "There has got to be some sort of limitation on the tremendous amount of funds poured into congressional campaigns," Harris said.
Common Cause lobbyist Maureen Shea says Parris' contributions mirror national trends in PACs, which are dominated by corporations, not unions, and which tend to contribute heavily to incumbents. Under federal law, individual PACs may contribute no more than $5,000 to a candidate in a primary and another $5,000 to a candidate for a general election.
"Our concern about PACs and their growth is that they are special interest money," said Shea. "PACs give the money and expect something in return." CAPTION: Picture, Northern Virginia Republican Rep. Stanford Parris has raised nearly $95,000 in PAC monies. By James K.W. Atherton -- The Washington Post