Saturday, July 17, 2004

Office seekers muddle finances

Who has more cash? It depends on how you ask the question

By Patrick Crowley
Enquirer staff writer

When politicians report the amount of money their campaigns have raised, they often partake in a sort of financial bragging.

Such is the case in Kentucky's highly competitive 4th Congressional District race between Democrat Nick Clooney and Republican Geoff Davis.

"Clooney catches GOP opponent in cash on hand," trumpets a press release from the Democrat's campaign.

But Davis countered with a press release of his own that declared, "Davis maintains cash advantage in KY-04."

So who has the bigger bank account? It depends on how you ask.

Clooney, an Augusta media personality making his first stab at elected office, reported raising $294,917 during the second quarter - April, May and June - of this year.

As of June 30, Clooney had $604,295 cash on hand and has raised $825,168 since entering the race in November.

Davis reported raising $373,143 in the reporting period, which under Federal Election Commission guidelines covered from April 29 to June 30.

Davis also had $721,614 cash on hand, putting him more than $100,000 ahead of Clooney, and has raised more than $1.3 million.

"We couldn't be happier with the way things are going," Davis said in a statement.

"To have maintained our cash advantage after a three-way primary and out-raised him by so much is truly extraordinary."

So with Davis' apparent financial advantage, how can Clooney campaign manager B.J. Neidhardt make a statement like this?

"I am amazed that Mr. Clooney has been able to catch up with a seasoned candidate like Mr. Davis in such a short period of time," Neidhardt said.

Clooney is claiming to have more money in the bank because Davis' cash-on-hand includes a $150,827 bank loan that is due in October.

Subtract the loan and Davis' cash drops to about $570,000, thus giving Clooney an advantage, Neidhardt claims.

"This revelation assures us that Nick will have a cash advantage going into November," he said.

Davis campaign manager Justin Brasell said that if necessary the campaign will extend the loan and repay it after the November election.

Brasell called Neidhardt's interpretation of Davis' finance report misleading.

Brasell also pointed out that while Davis' campaign finance report covered just the two months required by the FEC, Clooney's report covered the entire three-month second quarter. By adding another month, Clooney was able to claim more money when announcing fund-raising totals, Brasell said.

"I hope that was simply a case of over-spin by a desperate campaign staff," Brasell said.

"If not, let's hope Mr. Clooney doesn't want to serve on the Budget Committee."

Neidhardt said the campaign was simply reporting financial information for the quarter and was not trying to inflate any fund-raising totals.

He did point out that Davis has spent more money than Clooney.

Davis spent about $214,000 in May and June, while Clooney has spent a total of about $200,000.

Brasell said Davis spent more because he ran - and won - a three-way May 18 primary against Erlanger lawyer Kevin Murphy and Florence chiropractor Kelly King.

"Of course we're going to spend more," Brasell said. "We had a primary; he didn't."


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