A Northern Virginia man filed a $10 million suit yesterday against Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) and his campaign committee, saying they have refused to pay him $83,000 for fund-raising work he did for them in Virginia during Helms' Senate campaign last fall.
The suit by Steve Cram & Associates Inc., a Vienna firm, lists Helms; the Helms for Senate Committee; two North Carolina men, Mark Stephens and Carter Wrenn, and a North Carolina fund-raising and advertising firm, Jefferson Marketing Inc., as defendants.
Helms was unavailable for comment yesterday, a spokeswoman said.
Wrenn, who said he works for the Congressional Club, a political action committee in Raleigh, N.C., said, "The Helms for Senate Committee has a dispute with Steve Cram & Associates over a bill and that's what this suit is about . . . . I regret that they have filed a suit."
Running for his third term, Helms garnered 52 percent of the vote against his rival, former North Carolina governor James B. Hunt in a hotly contested race last November. Together Helms and Hunt spent $25.4 million, making it the most expensive Senate race ever, according to a study by Common Cause.
Helms raised $16.5 million and spent all but $300,000 of that on his race, exceeding the previously held record for a Senate campaign set in his 1978 race, when he spent $7.5 million.
The suit said that under the terms of a contract signed between Cram & Associates and the Helms committee last August, the firm was to solicit funds for the committee through the mail in Virginia.
The two-year-old firm guaranteed the committee a profit of at least $75,000 from the mailings, and was to receive all profits above that amount. The suit does not say how much Cram & Associates raised for the Helms committee and Steve Cram was not available for comment yesterday. The firm was to receive $176,328.82 for its services, according to a letter from Cram to Helms that is part of the suit.
Stephens and Wrenn "misrepresented" to Cram & Associates that it would be paid within 30 days of the completion of the mailings, the suit alleges.
Stephens, described in the suit as a treasurer of the Helms reelection committee, allegedly "diverted the proceeds of the fund-raising performed by plaintiff, misappropriated them to the use of Jefferson Marketing Inc., or Carter Wrenn, or both," the suit said.
Stephens could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Helms is responsible for the campaign debt, the suit said, "since he authorized the committee and its agents to act on his behalf as his agent, and benefited from those actions.
"Jesse Helms was successful in his campaign due, in part, to the efforts and expenditures of the plaintiff . . . and he reaped direct benefit from the moneys which should have been paid to the plaintiff under the terms of the contract, which terms Jesse Helms knew or should have known," the suit said.