Millionaire liberal activist Stewart Mott said yesterday he is bankrolling a drive to put John B. Anderson's name on the ballot for the fall election as an independent presidential candidate.
Mott, who emphasized he had not talked with Anderson, said he is convinced the Illinois congressman is 95 percent decided to go the independent route.
Mott has already spent more than $100,000 boosting Anderson's GOP candidacy by buying media ads urging voters to support him.
Under the law, as long as Mott has no contract with Anderson or his staff, he may spend as much as he wants promoting Anderson's candidacy.
He said he is putting together a group -- made up of moderates and liberals from both parties -- to support an Anderson independent candidacy.
He said lawyers are looking into the requirements to get Anderson on the ballot in New Jersey and Massachusetts, the next two states whose deadlines are approaching.
"Once we know exactly what the law requires I will be seeking people in New Jersey to carry the petitions around," Mott said.
To get on the ballot in New Jersey a candidate must get 800 signatures by April 24.
"I think the date is significant to him and if I were his political adviser I would not want to wait past then to make a decision," Mott said.
So far the deadlines for getting on the November ballot have passed in five states which have 52 of the 538 electoral votes. Of those only Ohio would be among the group of large states where Anderson might do well.
John Armour, an election law expert working with Mott, said there is no problem getting on the ballots in the other 45 states.
Armour helped get independent Eugene McCarthy on the ballot in a number of states four years ago. Mott in the past also supported McCarthy.
"As a matter of law it is a snap if you have the organization and the financing to run a credible campaign," Armour said.
He also said there would likely be legal challenges to the laws in the five states whose deadlines have passed, because their filing dates are unreasonably early in the campaign.