Gary Hart can no longer declare, "I don't have any money," as he did when he reentered the Democratic presidential race two weeks ago. The federal government will provide $100,000 to Hart's campaign treasury Jan. 4. The Federal Election Commission voted 6 to 0 yesterday to certify that Hart is eligible for matching funds, based on money he raised before dropping out of the race in May.
FEC auditors certified matchable contributions to Hart from 21 states totaling $118,136 as the basis for the full commission vote. A candidate receives $100,000 in matching funds from a "threshold submission." The other funds a candidate has raised will be considered the second time the campaign files for matching money. FEC spokesman Fred Eiland saidHart could submit his request for matching funds on Jan. 11. Hart campaign aides expect him to get about $1 million in matching funds, based on the $2.1 million Hart had raised before he quit the race.
Hart campaign manager Susan Casey said all of the new money would be used for the 1988 campaign and none to pay off $1.1 million in debts from Hart's l984 presidential race. But Hart told Cable News Network over the weekend that he would like "to set aside some of the '88 funds, perhaps at least 10 percent, in escrow to see what can and cannot be used for '84 debt." Hart must ask the FEC to rule on whether he can use the 1988 funds to pay off the old debts.
Meanwhile, Hart supporters filed to put his name on the ballot for the March 15 Illinois primary. They gathered twice the 3,000 signatures they needed by yesterday's deadline. Illinois was considered a hurdle because of its early filing deadline and the required number of signatures, Casey said. Hart still faces the more difficult hurdle of filing a full slate of delegates from each of the state's 22 congressional districts. The filing deadline for delegates is Jan. 13.