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Political Prankster Checks on Candidates

September 21, 1996|From Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Would a politician stoop to accepting a check from "Abortionists for Buchanan"? How about $100 from "Satan Worshipers for Dole"?

Professional prankster Michael Moore just had to know how low America's presidential contenders would go for cash. So he tried a test.

He sent a $100 check labeled "Hemp Growers of America" to President Clinton's reelection campaign. It came back stamped "PAID"--followed by two thank-you notes from Clinton.

Ka-ching.

Then Moore sent Patrick J. Buchanan, who has made outlawing abortion a crusade, $100 from "Abortionists for Buchanan."

He followed with $75 from "The John Wayne Gacey Fan Club," a phony group for the executed serial killer.

Ka-ching. Ka-ching.

"If it said $100, we just saw the dollar signs," said Connie Mackey, spokeswoman for the now-defunct Buchanan campaign, which confirmed cashing both checks.

But Moore, best known for taking on General Motors in the satirical documentary "Roger & Me," didn't fool everyone.

Bob Dole's Republican presidential campaign apparently saw right through the "Satan Worshipers." Moore sent two checks with that label in the spring; both were returned without being cashed.

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And billionaire Ross Perot passed up a $100 donation marked "Pedophiles for Free Trade." Moore said it was returned "with a very nice letter wishing me well and the people in my group well."

Perot, who had not yet received the Reform Party nomination, wasn't accepting contributions at the time.

After a reporter alerted Clinton campaign officials Thursday to the gag, a spokeswoman said the money would be returned--not because the check apparently endorsed marijuana farming, but "because it's not on the level."

Spokeswoman Lisa Davis said the check was accepted as a contribution from an individual, not a group, "and what people put on their checks is up to them."

Each check was signed by an assistant of Moore's, Gillian Aldrich, with the name of the dummy organization printed clearly in the top left corner. There was nothing else to indicate whether they were from Aldrich personally or a political action committee. They were mailed last spring.

Buchanan's GOP primary campaign treasurer, Scott Mackenzie, said he saw the "Gacey" check. He assumed it was a joke, but decided to deposit it anyway. (Moore said he misspelled Gacy's name on the advice of an attorney.)

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