WASHINGTON — The Federal Election Commission voted today to reject a request by former presidential candidate Gary Hart for matching money from the U.S. Treasury, contending that Hart's request was delivered too late.
With only FEC Chairman Scott E. Thomas dissenting, the commission said it could not accept a letter it received May 18 from Hart that certified he had qualified for matching funds.
The letter signed by Hart was dated May 4. Hart withdrew from the presidential race four days later, after a firestorm of controversy over his relationship with Miami model Donna Rice.
Thomas argued that "the circumstances indicate that the Hart campaign was in a state of chaos" and that delivery of the letter "a few days after the candidate's withdrawal could be held to be reasonable."
But the other members of the commission contended that the letter was delivered too late.
"I think the issue is, can a document come forth at some particular time and be applicable after the fact?" Commissioner Danny Lee McDonald said. "If the position of the commission is that the important date is not when we receive the document, then I don't know what standard to use."
An attorney for Hart's campaign, Donald Simon, said after the meeting today that he would consult with Hart. "We have 30 days to make a decision on filing an appeal," he said.
Simon said any appeal would be filed with the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington.
Simon said Hart's 1988 presidential campaign has a debt of about $50,000. His 1984 campaign still is about $1.2 million in debt, a figure that Hart aides hoped to reduce with matching funds for 1988.
The FEC, in a separate matter, still has not determined whether to allow such a shift between committees.
Under federal law, a major party candidate for President must raise $5,000 in at least 20 states in contributions of $250 or less from individuals. Once qualified, all individuals' contribu1953066862for dollar with money from the Treasury.