WASHINGTON – If you ever wanted an example of what elected officials can do with campaign contributions, here's one: they can pay for lawyers and publicists to defend their reputations against scandal.
That's what Rep. Gary Condit has done, spending $150,000 in campaign funds in 2001 to deal with bills related to the fallout from the investigation into his relationship with missing intern Chandra Levy.
In the last six months of 2001, Condit spent more than $300,000 and raised less than $37,000, leaving him with $73,000 in his account, according to the Federal Election Commission. The numbers are a stark contrast to the first half of the year, before the May announcement that Levy, whom Condit acknowledged having a close relationship with, disappeared.
In the first half of the year, Condit raised $180,000, spent $112,000 and had $316,000 in available cash.
Condit's single largest expense went to the law firm of Abbe Lowell, whom Condit hired in June. It received $101,000. Publicist Marina Ein received nearly $17,000 for her services defending Condit in the media and Condit's daughter Cadee was listed as earning $3,000 for fund-raising consulting.
Other expenses included $18,000 for polling and $5,000 for a news clipping service. Condit said he counted 7,000 negative articles against him last year.
Condit, who was interviewed by police four times, insisted that he had nothing to do with Levy's disappearance. Levy, a former intern at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, disappeared in Washington nine months ago and has not been heard from since. Condit is not considered a suspect and police have no evidence of foul play, though they have expressed consternation over his not being more cooperative earlier.
Condit's year-end fund-raising total equaled less than that of his two Republican challengers, state Sen. Dick Monteith and Modesto Councilman Bill Conrad. No information was available from Condit's leading Democratic challenger, Assemblyman Dennis Cardoza.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.