Posted: Jan. 28, 2004
THE MONEY'S IN THE BANK FOR
By Celia Cohen
Grapevine Political Writer
State election officials
have closed an inquiry into an unusually high-dollar amount of
un-itemized contributions reported by Karen Weldin Stewart, a
Democratic candidate for insurance commissioner, now that she has
produced supporting bank records.
Stewart caught the attention
of election officials last week when she filed a 2003 campaign
finance report showing $65,920 in total contributions, the bulk of
which was $63,370 in small-dollar donations of $100 or less that do
not have to be listed individually under state law.
The report raised questions
about how much she had collected and how she collected it.
In response, Stewart sent
computer printouts showing a balance of $61,418 as of Jan. 24 in an
account for "Delawareans for Karen Weldin Stewart," a campaign
treasury that has been active since May 2000 when Stewart, a
Wilmington insurance consultant, ran for insurance commissioner the
last time the office was on the ballot.
Frank B. Calio, the state
elections commissioner, said the printouts were enough to end the
inquiry because he does not have the right under state law to
require more information about the source of un-itemized
"The money's in the bank.
The way the law is, I can't question it," Calio said. "This would
suffice. We consider the case closed."
Even though Calio did not
seek additional documentation, Stewart offered more backup records
during an interview Wednesday with Delaware Grapevine.
Stewart had a representative
booklet of yellow, carbon-copy deposit tickets for May and June
2003, showing numerous deposits. For example, there were 21 checks
ranging from $25 to $100 in a May 13 deposit for $1,200 and eight
checks ranging from $25 to $50 in a May 20 deposit for $345.
"We were targeting little
checks. We figured we would start early and ask for $50. It wasn't
that strange of a thing to do because I just didn't think I'd get
the [maximum] $1,200 or $1,000 checks," Stewart said.
The 2004 election for
insurance commissioner is the wild card on the statewide ballot
because it is the only one without an incumbent running. Insurance
Commissioner Donna Lee Williams, a three-term Republican, stunned
the political set earlier this month when she declared she would not
seek re-election, and her party has yet to settle on a replacement.
On the Democratic side, Wilmington lawyer Matthew P. Denn is a
candidate, along with Stewart.
Stewart says her
small-dollar contributions are coming from a 5,000-name mailing
list, which she also brought to the Grapevine interview. She said it
was assembled from 30 years of fund raising for Democrats and
charities, from her classmates growing up in Claymont and from the
contacts she made as the president of the International Association
of Insurance Receivers and as a workshop leader for the National
Association of Insurance Commissioners.
She said she had assistance
computerizing the mailing list from Roger D. Blevins III, a former
Democratic Party worker once known for his technology skills but
currently under indictment for allegedly embezzling hundreds of
thousands of dollars from U.S. Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr.'s campaign
"I've been fund raising
since the '70s," Stewart said. "I don't have anything to hide."
RETURN TO ARCHIVES
RETURN TO COVER PAGE