Posted: Oct. 20, 2009


By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer

"Campaign Notebook" is a collection of items about some recent entries in candidates' checkbooks. It takes a look at the money side of politics for Joe Biden, who is closing a campaign account, and for John Carney, who is opening one.

This is the way a campaign ends -- not with an election but a last financial report.

"Citizens for Biden" has shut down for good. The Democratic political operation, instrumental in making Joe Biden the only Delawarean ever elected to the U.S. Senate seven times, zeroed out its account earlier this month.

Not that its departure means contributors are off the hook. There is always the Obama-Biden campaign, which could teach a Hydra about appetite. Nor should it be overlooked that Beau Biden shares a campaign treasurer with his father.

The concluding act of "Citizens for Biden" was to spend almost $5 million for the 2008 election, when Joe Biden ran simultaneously for the Senate and vice president.

It needed every dollar, too. Even with all that money, Biden nearly lost Sussex County to a Republican candidate best known for her roadside posters. Not that they were overly provocative, but on the movie-rating system they might have been a borderline PG-13.

Biden trounced Christine O'Donnell statewide, 65 percent to 35 percent, but he carried Sussex by only 272 votes. He did lose there to Sarah Palin, though. Sussex was the only one of the three counties to vote for the Republican presidential slate.

Some charities got the last of Biden's campaign money, according to the campaign finance reports filed by "Citizens for Biden" with the Federal Election Commission.

A donation of $20,000 went to Delaware Boots on the Ground, which helps military families and is listed in Jill Biden's White House biography as one of her favorite causes. Beau Biden, of course, just returned from a year in Iraq as a JAG captain with the Delaware National Guard.

Another donation for $25,000 was given to the Delaware Police Chiefs Foundation, a part of the state law enforcement network that Joe Biden unfailingly cultivated. A final one for $2,100 was sent to ZERO/The Project to End Prostate Cancer, which counts as its board members not only Ken Griffey Sr., the former baseball player, but Hunter Biden, the vice president's son.

"Citizens for Biden" leaves behind one awkward legacy. It is Roger Blevins, a Democratic factotum whose junior-grade offices included assistant treasurer to Joe Biden's campaign. Blevins went to jail after looting more than $400,000 from it to underwrite a high-flying romantic life. A federal judge also ordered him to make restitution.

At this last reckoning, Blevins had paid back about $3,300 since his release from prison in 2007. "Citizens for Biden" assigned any forthcoming payments to the federal Crime Victims Fund.

With that, "Citizens for Biden" is no more. Old campaign committees never die, they just fade deeper into the Internet search engines.

# # #

John Carney's involvement with a federal campaign account is just beginning.

The former lieutenant governor, who lost the Democratic primary for governor last year, has spent the last six months building up "John Carney for Congress" so he can run for the open seat that belonged to Mike Castle, the nine-term Republican congressman now running for the Senate.

Carney's first quarter of fund raising was better than his second. From April through June, he collected $262,000. From July through September, it was $165,000. After expenditures from his total of $427,000, he has a respectable $308,000 in his account.

"It's been challenging over the last several months. The last quarter was the summertime and the economy," Carney said.

Carney's bankroll is $308,000 more than any Republican has, because there are none. Charlie Copeland, the Republican being mentioned most prominently for the congressional race, ended his losing campaign for lieutenant governor in 2008 by owing himself $64,000.

Even without a Republican in the field, the National Republican Congressional Committee is going after Carney. An e-mail described his record as "consisting solely of helping Gov. Minner do her best to run Delaware into the ground."

Carney knew what he had to do after he was slammed. Like any good politician, he figured he could use it to raise money. An e-mail of his own went out.

"The National Republican Party has already started launching personal negative attacks against me," Carney tut-tutted.

"Please make a contribution . . . to send a message that Delawareans want leaders in Congress who will work to get things done, not play politics as usual, Washington D.C.-style."

There ought to be a saying in politics, don't get mad, get money.