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From The Post
The Secret of a Senator's Success? (Dec. 12)

PAC Helps Conservative Donors Spread Campaign Cash

By Justin Pritchard
LEGI-SLATE News Service
July 3, 1997

WASHINGTON – In his first year in office, Rep. David McIntosh acquired the arsenal of a congressional veteran.

First came a subcommittee chairmanship and by November 1995, his own political action committee: the "Faith, Family & Freedom" PAC. Both have been potent weapons wielded by the Indiana Republican to fight his political battles.

From his post on the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee, for example, McIntosh has worked aggressively to expose possible ethical lapses in the Clinton White House, where he alleges Democratic aides used a taxpayer-funded computer database to help bankroll their party and president.

But as McIntosh challenges the Clinton administration's political fundraising, the activities of his own Faith, Family & Freedom PAC raise questions about how it boosted donations to conservative Republican candidates.

During the last election cycle, Faith, Family & Freedom received and disbursed money in a way that could have allowed donations to circumvent federal giving limits, according to a computer analysis of Federal Election Commission records by LEGI-SLATE News Service and the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research group.

Under the federal election code, a citizen cannot give more than $1,000 per election to a candidate. A donor can ask a PAC to earmark money to a specific candidate, but that PAC must disclose the arrangement and the money counts against the individual's $1,000 limit.

In 1995 and 1996, Faith, Family & Freedom PAC gave $61,500 to 52 conservative candidates for Congress, running as freshmen or contenders for open seats, and $15,000 to the Republican National Committee. True to its name, McIntosh kept the PAC's operation within his political family: its treasurer is a senior staff aide who also runs McIntosh's congressional office.

While other PACs vastly overshadow Faith, Family & Freedom in size and political bearing, McIntosh's operation was remarkable in one respect.

In 41 instances during the last campaign, the analysis shows, a donor who reached the $1,000-per-candidate maximum limit also gave money to Faith, Family & Freedom, which in turn also contributed to that same candidate. The PAC usually made its donations within a week of the individual's direct donation to the candidate [see chart].

None of the PAC's records on file with the FEC show that donors asked Faith, Family & Freedom to earmark the money for specific candidates.

The contributions of Robert Cone illustrate this pattern. Cone, a southeastern Pennsylvania businessman, gave more than $46,000 to candidates for federal office and PACs in the last election cycle.

Cone initially gave $2,500 to Faith, Family & Freedom. Then, on Aug. 6, 1996, he gave $1,000 to now-Rep. Bob Schaffer, R-Colo., the maximum allowed by law. The previous day, McIntosh's PAC gave the Schaffer campaign $2,000.

That sequence of events might be explained as coincidence.

Several donors to Faith, Family & Freedom said they expected the PAC to support their kind of Republican – one who favored free markets, limited government and gun rights – without asking that money be given to a specific candidate. Schaffer's chief of staff said the Faith, Family & Freedom donation came without prior consultation. Cone declined requests for an interview.

No one associated with Faith, Family & Freedom has been charged with any wrongdoing. But some in Congress want to learn more about the PAC's activities and whether it was an intermediary through which donors could funnel more money to a candidate than they could give directly.

One interested party is Alan Baron, the chief Democratic lawyer on the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, which is scheduled to begin hearings July 8 on fundraising scandals of 1996 election campaigns.

"It appears to be a way of getting around limitations that the law provides for how much you can contribute to a campaign," Baron said when shown a chart of the candidates to which both Faith, Family & Freedom and its donors gave. "It may well be, after investigation, that one concludes that these PACs are used as a means of contributing yet more money to a campaign."

In a brief interview with LEGI-SLATE News Service off the House floor, McIntosh said Faith, Family & Freedom has done nothing wrong.

"I would challenge the Senate to look at their own house first," he said, referring to the Governmental Affairs probe.

In fact, McIntosh himself is a leader of the companion investigation by the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee. That inquiry, unlike the Senate's, will not probe potential improprieties by members of Congress or their political action committees.

As chairman of the committee's National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, McIntosh has charged that the White House allowed Democratic Party operatives to track potential donors through a $1.7 million taxpayer-funded computer database.

That blurs the line separating political and public service, according to McIntosh, who himself worked in the White House as an aide to President Ronald Reagan and Vice President Dan Quayle.

But in his own political fundraising, McIntosh said, that fine line is intact in the work of Devin Anderson, a former Indiana Republican Party chief of staff who serves simultaneously as McIntosh's administrative assistant and treasurer of Faith, Family & Freedom PAC.

"Devin made sure that he didn't [do PAC work] as part of his government job," McIntosh said. "He kept all the records in his home and did it on his own hours."

Anderson did not return a dozen calls over three weeks seeking comment.

Late 1995 reports on file with the FEC list the PAC's headquarters as Anderson's Arlington, Va., home address and phone number. The PAC later began to rent a post office box on Capitol Hill.

Faith, Family & Freedom has come to the attention of Senate investigators because of its interactions with Triad Management Services, Inc., a Washington-based firm that matches wealthy donors with conservative PACs and candidates running in tight races.

In April, the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee subpoenaed Triad's records to investigate whether the firm coordinated with PACs to enhance individual campaign contributions. Triad lawyer E. Mark Braden denied in an interview with LEGI-SLATE News Service that such coordination occurred.

"It would be crazy to deny that the opportunity existed," said Braden, a former Republican National Committee lawyer. "Of course it does. But it didn't happen. ... There wasn't any earmarking, expressed or implied."

The Senate committee subpoenaed Triad records after several press reports of PAC donations involving relatives of Republican lawmakers Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Rep. Robert Riley, Sr. of Alabama. In both cases, relatives gave to several PACs – among them Faith, Family & Freedom – which likewise gave to Brownback and Riley.

The Senate panel did not subpoena records from the Faith, Family & Freedom PAC.

McIntosh downplayed any connection between Triad and Faith, Family & Freedom's giving practices. He said he personally decided which candidates Faith, Family & Freedom should support.

"For example, with Brownback, we gave him $5,000 before we received any of those contributions" from his parents-in-law, John and Ruth Stauffer, McIntosh said. "And we certainly didn't know any connection to Sam's campaign when we took the contribution into the PAC."

FEC records contradict McIntosh's first assertion.

According to the records, Faith, Family & Freedom received $2,500 from the Stauffers on July 26, 1996 and the PAC gave Brownback $4,000 on July 29.

While McIntosh says he received political advice from many sources, including the Republican National Committee, his relationship with Triad was far from incidental.

McIntosh promoted Triad on a sleek, 16-minute video entitled, "Due Diligence for a 1996 Majority." Triad produced the video, which includes fundraising appeals by its director, Carolyn Malenick, and a logo styling the firm as a "Privatized Republican National Coalition."

In the video, McIntosh declared, "I am absolutely committed to Triad." He was one of six GOP lawmakers to appear on the video, a copy of which was obtained by LEGI-SLATE News Service.

"Triad is a revolutionary new way for donors to have a huge impact in the political process – to elect more freshmen, to change America, to have people who are dedicated to new freedom," McIntosh said in the video.

While McIntosh touted Triad to donors, Triad touted McIntosh's PAC. Two donors and one candidate said in interviews that Triad specifically recommended they contact Faith, Family & Freedom regarding campaign contributions.

Paul Young, a college professor who ran against Maine Democratic incumbent Rep. John Baldacci, said he met McIntosh in March 1996 on the advice of Meredith O'Rourke, who helped run Triad but now works for the Republican National Committee. (O'Rourke and Malenick declined interview requests for this article.)

"I got the feeling if Paul Young was like David McIntosh I'd get oodles of money," Young said. "He's just very aggressive ... very driven," he said of McIntosh.

John Uhlmann, a businessman who lives near Kansas City, said he picked Faith, Family and Freedom from a list of about 20 PACs that Triad furnished.

Interviews and FEC records show that at least $28,000 of the $33,650 the McIntosh PAC collected in December 1995, its first month of operation, came through Triad ties.

One of those donors was Floyd Coates, an Indiana plastics company executive and erstwhile congressional candidate who, with his wife, gave nearly $100,000 over the 1995-1996 election cycle on Triad's advice.

Coates said he gave to Faith, Family & Freedom in 1995 because he wanted to maximize his political donations. Under federal law, an individual donor can only give $25,000 each year to federal-level candidates or PACs. So, according to Coates, Triad suggested he give in 1995 to PACs and in 1996 to candidates.

Coates expressed surprise when told that, on 11 occasions, Faith, Family & Freedom gave donations within a week to the same candidate to whom he or his wife gave $1,000.

"I had no expectation or knowledge or anticipation of who the political action committees would contribute to," Coates said. "I saw no linkage between them and candidates that I later supported."

© Copyright 1997 LEGI-SLATE News Service

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