With a bit of braggadocio, fundraisers for the Kennedy-for-President Committee said yesterday that they had raised $225,000 in the four days since the committee was formed.
The money was raised in at least 20 states, and at least $5,000 in each of the states was in contributions smaller than $251, which means that Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) has officially qualified for federal matching funds in the 1980 election.
But that was not the achievement the Kennedy people were bragging about. Over the years, every "major" condidate for the presidency, and some considered "minor," have managed to qualify for matching funds. The Kennedy boast was that the senator had raised the necessary money in an usually short time.
Kennedy's brother-in-law and campaign manager, Stephen Smith, released a statement yesterday saying he was "delighted that we have qualified so quickly . . . This indicates a high level of enthusiasm around the country for the Kennedy candidacy." TWhat Smith meant by "quickly", according to the statement, was that "the committee, which began accepting contributions on Monday, Oct. 29, has received $225,000 in contributions since that date."
But in fact some Kennedy operatives around the country had been directed by members of the campaign team to begin collecting money during the second week in October.
Lanny J. Davis, a lawyer from Bethesda who directed the fundraising in Maryland, said he was in contact that week with Paul Kirk, chief political strategist of the Kennedy committee, and Meyer (Mike) Feldman, a senior Kennedy adviser.
Feldman "asked me two weeks ago to get started," Davis said yesterday. "I raised some of the money that week, and about 95 percent of it in the week before they set up the committee. We had all our money in last Thursday."
At it turned out, though, the Maryland money Davis raised was not part of the qualifying kitty the Kennedy committee boasted about yesterday. Because of the uncertainty as to when a Kennedy committe would be set up, Davis asked his contributors to write undated checks. But then Kennedy's lawyers said the money could not be accepted until the donors filled in adate.
A Pennsyvania fund-raiser, who asked not be identified, told a similar story: he was contacted by Feldman a week or so before the Kennedy committee was established and was asked to gather contributions and have them ready by the time the committee opened for business.
Most of the major-party candidates who have formed committees rasised their matching money about six weeks after they began soliciting contributions. tthe matching money will be distributed beginning in January.