Monday, October 10, 2005

Philadelphia Inquirer: Casey's fund-raising Strengthens While Santorum Falters

Philadelphia Inquirer | 10/07/2005 | Casey's fund-raising in Texas brings in $18,000 post-Katrina: "Posted on Fri, Oct. 07, 2005

Casey's fund-raising in Texas brings in $18,000 post-Katrina
The likely Senate candidate's campaign manager said he didn't view the state as an "impacted" area.
By Carrie Budoff
Inquirer Staff Writer
On the same day Sen. Rick Santorum canceled a fund-raising trip to Texas because of Hurricane Katrina, his leading Democratic opponent collected $18,000 in Austin and met with prospective donors in Houston.

Robert P. Casey Jr. traveled to Texas Sept. 19, a detail the Democrat's campaign did not disclose when asked last month whether he planned to raise money outside the state before close of the quarterly fund-raising period on Sept. 30.

"The vast majority of our fund-raising is taking place in Pennsylvania and in areas not affected by the floods," said Jay Reiff, Casey's campaign manager, in a Sept. 18 Inquirer story. "We are certainly not doing any fund-raising in the areas impacted."

Reiff said yesterday that the campaign did not view Texas as an impacted area, and never found it necessary to curtail political activity in the first place.

The issue of where the 2006 Senate candidates were raising money arose after the campaigns clashed last month over the Aug. 29 hurricane and the propriety of fund-raising in its aftermath.

Casey first criticized Santorum for suggesting that people who disregard mandatory evacuation orders should face tougher penalties. Santorum then accused Casey of using the hurricane to raise money because Casey included an Internet donation link in an e-mail to supporters that challenged the senator's comments.

At the same time, Santorum estimated losing $1 million in donations after halting temporarily his national phone solicitations, postponing an event with Vice President Cheney and canceling a Sept. 19 trip to New Orleans, Houston and Austin, citing a desire to respect Texas' outsized role in the recovery process.

Houston shelters accepted more than 25,000 Katrina evacuees after the hurricane hit, while Austin took in more than 4,000. Those numbers had declined significantly by mid-September.

On Sept. 19, Casey met potential donors in Houston, but did not receive any checks, and later that day raised money in Austin, Reiff said.

"If you need a comparison on judgment, character and ethics, this is a perfect example," said John Brabender, Santorum's media consultant. "It is an example that shows both people being put in the exact same situation. One put people first and one put politics first."

Brabender said the Oct. 15 finance report would show the campaign received $31,000 from Texas in September, most of which came in before the events were canceled. Santorum had expected to raise at least $200,000, he said.

Reiff said it was "disingenuous" of Santorum, who first raised the fund-raising issue, to still accept those donations."

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