Because of an editing error, an article yesterday said former vice president Walter F. Mondale and Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) have qualified for federal matching funds for their 1984 presidential campaigns. Hart has not raised enough funds to qualify for federal matching funds.
Sen. Gary Hart (D-Colo.) and former vice president Walter F. Mondale said yesterday that they will not accept any money from special-interest groups--including labor unions--in their quests for the 1984 Democratic nomination.
Neither has announced his formal candidacy; both have qualified for matching funds through the Federal Election Commission.
The two Democrats said separately that they were renouncing contributions from all special-interest political action committees, known as PACs, as part of a push for comprehensive campaign finance changes, including federal financing of Senate and House races.
Other Democratic presidential aspirants, however, showed no eagerness to follow suit.
Spokesmen for Sens. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and Ernest F. Hollings (D-S.C.) said that they would still accept contributions from PACs, the major vehicles through which special interests, including business and labor, contribute to politicians.
Another, Sen. John Glenn (D-Ohio), said through a spokesman that he has made no decision on the matter.
The declarations by Hart and Mondale are more symbolic than financially significant, because political action committees contribute just a small fraction of the funds spent in presidential primary campaigns.
In 1980, for example, PACs contributed $460,000 to President Carter's primary campaign. This was less than 3 percent of his $18.5 million budget. General presidential election campaigns are federally funded.
Yesterday's pronouncements were touched off by Hart. In remarks prepared for delivery before the President's Commission on Executive Exchange, a group of business executives serving a tour in the federal bureaucracy, Hart warned of "the explosive growth of political action committees."
"Leaders of our government should begin paying attention to an argument's merits, not a lobbyist's money," he said. " . . . I have decided that my presidential campaign will accept no contributions from PACs."
Hart pledged that as president, he would press for "real campaign finance reform," and added: "Only by rejecting PAC contributions can a president be free to lead that effort."
Mondale had already decided that he would not accept PAC money in his presidential campaign, James Johnson, his chief adviser, said. Mondale had planned to announce that when he formally announces his candidacy on Feb. 21, but because of Hart's statement, Johnson made Mondale's pledge public yesterday.
"This is something Fritz Mondale feels very strongly about," Johnson said. "We'll be proposing a package of campaign spending reforms."
Last month, Mondale won repeated applause for a vigorous attack on PACs in his speech to the California Democratic Party convention.
"I say it's time . . . that we declare war on special interests," Mondale said. " . . . Let's plant controls on these PACs . . . . Let's establish a system of public funding for congressional campaigns."
For Mondale, the Democratic front-runner who has high hopes of winning the AFL-CIO's endorsement before the primaries begin, the announcement is a matter of some consequence.
"We figured we would be getting a half million dollars from PACs in our campaign," said Johnson. "So to us, this is a very significant decision."
But it is of less importance to Hart, who said he had no idea how much PAC money he might have received.
Moreover, Hart said, he intends to use his anti-PAC pronouncement in his pitch for contributions from individual small contributors, largely through direct mail.
For both Hart and Mondale, this rejection of PAC money is a new-found virtue.
In 1980, Hart won reelection to the Senate in a campaign in which 21 percent of his contributions came from PACs.
As recently as last fall, Mondale had a PAC of his own, the Committee for the Future of America, which Johnson says received just under 10 percent of the $2.3 million it raised from special-interest PACs.
The CFA, in turn, funneled these funds to Democratic candidates around the country.
"We have decided that we will close the door on our own PAC," Johnson said.
Hart was asked to reconcile his 1980 fund-raising with his statement yesterday to the business executives that "No citizens with genuine and legitimate interests in the conduct of government will have to pay me to listen to them, either on the campaign trail or in the White House."
He replied: "One of the fundamental differences is that there are no provisions for federal funding of Senate races . . . . Perhaps if I were running for the Senate in 1984, I might not take PAC money."
Hollings and Cranston endorsed the general concept of campaign financing change, but argued that PACs have rights too.
"It's an organized, acceptable, and legal way for them to participate," Hollings' chief campaign adviser, Billy Keyserling, said through a spokesman.
Cranston's campaign manager, Sergio Bendixen, said: "The senator supports public financing. But until that becomes the mode of operating, we'll play by the rules that exist."