Gary Hart's 1988 presidential campaign does not have to hand over a $100,000 certificate of deposit to pay debts from his 1984 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, a U.S. magistrate has ruled.
Magistrate Richard Harvey ruled Thursday that Friends of Gary Hart-1988 Inc. was a separate and distinct corporate entity from Americans with Hart, the candidate's 1984 campaign, although some individuals have served in both organizations.
Harvey ordered that a $101,440.10 certificate of deposit with the Union National Bank of Colorado be returned to Friends of Gary Hart-1988. The court had taken custody of the certificate pending Harvey's ruling.
Maryland Firm's Claim
Tri-State Envelope Corp. of Beltsville, Md., which is owed $133,600, and Semper-Moser Associates Inc., a California advertising agency owed $172,920 for television time, sought to garnishee the certificate, claiming that the 1988 campaign includes many of the same individuals involved in Hart's 1984 race.
Altogether, creditors of the 1984 campaign say they are still owed more than $1 million.
Semper-Moser, one of the most aggressive of Hart's 1984 creditors, also is trying to block Hart's 1988 campaign from spending $100,000 in federal matching funds approved last week by the Federal Election Commission.
On Monday and Tuesday, the FEC is preparing to release more than $28 million to the 13 major-party presidential candidates. Hart reportedly could receive as much as $940,000 of that amount.
The Thursday ruling, however, could also be legal ammunition for Hart to use against 1984 creditors who won liens of attachment this week on the 1988 matching funds.
Xerox Corp. and Semper-Moser got the liens in Washington totaling nearly $200,000.
The companies tried to convince Harvey that Friends of Gary Hart, organized in November, 1986, was the same corporate entity as Americans with Hart.
The most recent FEC campaign report for Americans with Hart shows the campaign owed $1.1 million, was carrying nearly $942,000 in settlements that had not been approved by the FEC and owed the National Bank of Washington $504,000.
Last spring, Semper-Moser had federal marshals seize money raised at a Hart fund-raiser in Los Angeles, but the money later was returned after a court ruled that it belonged to the 1988 campaign, not the 1984 one.
Bernard Schneider, a Los Angeles lawyer working on the debt issue for Hart, said the campaign will argue that the Los Angeles and Denver decisions should apply to the Washington liens because those rulings establish that the two Hart campaigns are legally independent of each other.