Battle For The Bucks


The battle of the heavyweights may be over, but the race for cash continues. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s stunning departure from the race against First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton transforms what was expected to be the most expensive U.S. Senate campaign in history into a race against time for Giuliani’s replacement, the relatively unknown Long Island Rep. Rick Lazio.

"The key question is now how quickly he can ramp up his fund raising," said Sheila Krumholz, research director for the Center for Responsive Politics, a campaign watchdog group, of Lazio.

Krumholz said the Clinton-Giuliani battle was on course to smash the previous Senate record (the $44 million spent in 1998 by Democrat challenger Charles Schumer and Republican incumbent Al D’Amato) based on the fund raising reported as of March 31.Giuliani had raised $19.2 million and spent $10.3 million. This week it was unclear what the mayor would do with the remaining $9.1 million. His options under federal election laws are to donate the funds to the state GOP, save them for a future race, give them to charity or return the money to donors.

Clinton has brought in $12.8 million and spent $6.1 million. Lazio, who had flirted with a Senate bid before being dissuaded by state Republican leaders, has raised about $3 million.

All this for a six-year term that pays $141,300 annually.

Lazio can still draw on an anti-Hillary faction that filled Giuliani’s war chest, Krumholz said, but warned about "donor fatigue" from those who already had contributed to the mayor "and may not want to pony up for Lazio."

Meanwhile, Clinton continues to raise cash from her base of supporters in the entertainment, legal and financial industries. Companies among her top contributors, according to Federal Election Commission data, included Walt Disney ($56,550); Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Viacom, Time Warner and the law firms of Skadden Arps and Patton Boggs. Prominent Jewish philanthropist Edgar Bronfman’s company, Joseph E. Seagrams & Sons, contributed $19,000.

Also, the National Jewish Democratic Council kicked in $14,000.Among individuals, Bronfman chipped in the maximum $2,000. Individuals are limited to that amount in each election cycle per federal candidate, but there are no limits on what they can contribute to political parties. This so-called "soft money" produces millions in unregulated cash that is used indirectly to help candidates.

Much of Clinton’s support in the Jewish community comes from the secular, or "Manhattan liberal," sectors and Israel peace advocacy groups, according to a review of election records.

Millionaire businessman S. Daniel Abraham, founder of the Center for Middle East Peace and Economic Cooperation, contributed $2,000. Center official Sara Ehrman, a longtime Hillary friend, gave $1,000, as did Israel Policy Forum director Debra Wasserman. Americans for Peace Now executive director Debra Delee donated $500.

Current and former officials from Jewish organizations on Clinton’s list of givers included former UJA-Federation of New York president Margaret Tishman, who donated $1,500, and UJA-Federation leader Joan Bronk, $1,000. Other contributors of $1,000 were former American Jewish Committee president Robert Rifkind, an attorney with Cravath Swaine and Moore; and ex-congressman Bertram Podell, an American Jewish Congress official, and his wife.

Giving a like amount from the entertainment world were brothers Harvey and Robert Weinstein of the Miramax studio, which produced the Oscar-winning Holocaust comedy "Life Is Beautiful." California businessman Haim Saban, the Israeli-born owner of Marvel comics and Toy Biz, and wife Cheryl wrote checks for $2,000 each. Writer Letty Cottin Pogrebin gave $1,000.

New York businessman Peter May, a board member at the 92nd Street Y, UJA-Federation and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and wife Leni each gave the maximum $2,000. Loews Hotel head Jonathan Tisch contributed $1,000. Clinton also received support from several family members and employees of billionaire investor George Soros and his Soros Fund Management.In the political arena, Clinton adviser Harold Ickes contributed $2,000. Giving $1,000 were city Public Advocate Mark Green and New Jersey U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Jon Corzine and his wife, Joanne. Former New York Mayor Abe Beame gave $500.

New Jersey businessman Jack Bendheim, an Orthodox Jew and president of the Israel Policy Forum, donated $2,000. It was not possible to discern other campaign contributions from the New York area’s Orthodox community.