Murkowski's Senate account largely undistributed

Posted: Tuesday, April 22, 2003

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Gov. Frank Murkowski's leftover U.S. Senate campaign account remains untouched for the most part.

The campaign had $233,640 in cash by the end of March, according to the latest filing with the Senate Clerk's office.

Murkowski hasn't collected much money in the account since he declared his candidacy for governor of Alaska in October 2001. However, he has used the account for various expenses and even wrote a $50,000 check to a nonprofit foundation last year.

In the past three months, the account received one contribution -- $1,000 from Americans for a Sound Energy Policy, a political action committee Murkowski created while in the Senate. Its treasurer through the end of 2002 was Gregg Renkes, the Washington lawyer and former Senate staff member who Murkowski appointed Alaska's attorney general.

In late February, the account paid for more than $10,000 in airline tickets, according to the report. It also paid a $450 bill for ''meeting expenses'' at Harry's Bar and Grill in Washington and a $428 bill at Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel.

The account paid Dennis Smith Advertising of Anchorage $3,800 for printing costs. It also paid $1,275 for ''moving expenses'' on March 11, as well as a $213 bill at Romanos, a Washington restaurant, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

According to federal election law, Murkowski could either simply save his former campaign account or distribute it for a variety of purposes.

The money could be spread around to other candidates for federal office, in chunks no greater than $4,000 per election cycle. That limit applies to his daughter, Lisa, who he appointed to replace him in the U.S. Senate after he was elected governor.

Political action committees could benefit from the money as well, to the tune of $10,000 each per election cycle.

The money could also be given to the Republican Party, with no donation limit.

Murkowski could also give the money to nonprofit groups in unlimited amounts. Last year, for example, the campaign wrote a $50,000 check to the North Star Foundation in Anchorage.

The leftover money cannot be used for personal expenses. Neither can it be given to candidates for state office.

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