As political observers had predicted, Tony Hope, the son of entertainer Bob Hope, has begun capitalizing on his extensive professional, political and family ties to quickly accumulate a large war chest in his bid for Congress, the latest campaign finance reports show.
Hope raised $208,262 during the six-week period beginning April 1, according to a federal campaign finance report released Thursday. The former Washington attorney, who returned to the San Fernando Valley in February to run in the 21st District Republican congressional primary--lent his campaign another $120,000.
In contrast, contributions made to Elton Gallegly, Hope's chief GOP rival, shrank to their lowest level since the Simi Valley mayor announced his candidacy in early 1985. During the six-week period, Gallegly raised $35,211 after sending out a mailer seeking $10 and $15 contributions.
On Thursday, Gallegly downplayed his difficulties in attracting big bucks as the June 3 primary race heads into the stretch. Gallegly, saying he has been too busy to solicit contributions, suggested Hope's big fund-raising push could backfire.
"A lot of folks resent that particular way of buying elected office," he maintained.
Hope's fund raising has fallen short of the $1 million some had suggested the candidate would muster. Assemblyman Tom McClintock (R-Thousand Oaks) dropped out of the 21st-District race after predicting that Hope had the credentials and $1 million to win the election.
Hope quickly took the lead in fund raising, even though Gallegly began accepting money long before the incumbent, Rep. Bobbi Fiedler (R-Northridge), announced she would run for the U.S. Senate. Gallegly has raised $231,537, contrasted with Hope's $425,337. Unlike Hope, Gallegly has not lent his own campaign any money.
Both candidates are spending most of their cash as fast as they take it in. On May 14, Hope had $36,434 and Gallegly had $17,990 left in the bank. In the final week of the campaign, both are spending their money on radio spots and mailings across the district, which encompasses eastern Ventura County and western and northern parts of the Valley.
The third GOP candidate, Tom La Porte, a Thousand Oaks stockbroker, has received $12,945 in contributions. Saying he was encouraged by that response, La Porte lent himself $35,000 so he could reach the voters with mailers and radio spots.
Hope and Gallegly have criticized each other's base of support.
Gallegly charges that Hope is receiving most of his money from the entertainment industry and out-of-district interests. Hope has questioned the mayor's integrity because many of his contributions come from land developers operating in fast-growing Simi Valley.
Development-related contributions represent about one-third of Gallegly's contributions during the latest reporting period. The Times has reported that at least 49% of Gallegly's donations can be traced to developers, construction companies, construction engineers, real estate agents and financial institutions.
McClintock, who examined Gallegly's 1985 finance statements before dropping out of the congressional race, said the mayor's dependence on developers is even higher. He said about 80% of the mayor's contributions came from persons with vested interest in land issues in Simi Valley. Gallegly, however, disputes the 80% figure.
Gallegly has said he does not automatically vote for land developers when they come before the City Council, explaining that they contribute to him because of his pro-growth philosophy.
Hope Leans on Outsiders
The bulk of Hope's contributions have come from outside the district. Hope said many of the contributors are friends of his family and persons he has met in the political and business communities. Hope has served on two presidential commissions and for several years was a federal legislative liaison for a major accounting firm.
Hope's list of supporters reads like a "Who's Who" of business. Contributors include top executives with Capital Cities Communications, Mutual of Omaha, Reader's Digest, Scripps Howard Broadcasting, US Air, Haggar Apparel, Consolidated Rail, Ernst & Whinney and Atlantic Richfield.
There appears to be only a handful of Hollywood contributors. The widow of the late Walt Disney, actor George Peppard and Brooke Shields' mother, Teri Shields, each donated $500. Efrem Zimbalist Jr. contributed $250.
In the political arena, former President Richard M. Nixon, listing himself as an author, contributed $250, and former President Gerald R. Ford's political action committee donated $1,000.
Hope also received a number of contributions from attorneys in the law firm of Paul, Hastings, Jonofsky & Walker. Tony Hope's wife, Judy, whom he met at Harvard Law School, is a partner in the firm, with offices in Los Angeles and Washington.