Canton Repository

October 19, 2004

Seemann misses federal finance report filing deadline

By Paul M. Krawzak
Copley News Service

WASHINGTON — Two weeks before Election Day, Rep. Ralph Regula appears to be heavily outspending his Democratic rival, Jeff Seemann.

Regula, R-Bethlehem Township, has spent $335,080 on campaign-related costs, travel and other allowable expenses since Jan. 1, 2002. He’s raised $361,349 during that time. He had $95,600 left in his campaign war chest at the end of September, according to a just-filed campaign finance report.

His opponent’s exact spending and cash on hand remained uncertain Monday because Seemann missed the midnight Friday filing deadline for the latest quarter. His campaign blamed technical difficulties transmitting the report electronically to the Federal Election Commission.

On Oct. 6, Seemann fired his campaign finance director, Mia Phifer, because, in part, she didn’t meet fund-raising expectations. His campaign manager, Mike Chaney, resigned four days later and campaign communications director Tim Tagaris quit Thursday.

On Friday, Seemann announced he was appointing 19-year-old Cody Combs, a member of Alliance City Council and Walsh University student, to be his new campaign manager.

According to reports Seemann filed earlier this year, he had raised only $45,478 and spent $33,050 through the end of June.

Regula’s latest report shows that he spent $265,609 just in the three-month period ending Sept. 30.

A key member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Regula is seeking a 17th term in the 16th District. Seemann, a peace activist from Canton, is running for Congress for the first time.

Regula apparently spent more during the July through September period than he has during any previous campaign. Two years ago, he went through $240,543 in campaign funds, according to the FEC.

The majority of Regula’s donations came from individuals, even though he began accepting donations from special-interest groups for the first time last year. He reported $280,499 in contributions from individuals and $87,850 in donations from political action committees since Jan. 1, 2003.

Many incumbents, such as Regula, raise large sums of campaign cash even when they do not have a tough re-election opponent.

“It’s one way to scare off serious challenges,” explained Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics. “It’s very intimidating if you’re looking to run against an incumbent and you see they have a million dollars.”

Incumbents also can spend their campaign funds on congressionally related travel, or make donations to other candidates or party leaders.

“It’s a very efficient way for them to move into leadership positions, increase the likelihood that they get important committee assignments or chairmanships,” Noble said.

In the neighboring 18th District, Rep. Bob Ney has vastly outspent his Democratic rival, Brian R. Thomas of Scio.

Ney, R-St. Clairsville, spent $182,722 in the three-month period ending Sept. 30, compared to $3,374 for Thomas.

Repository staff writer Edd Pritchard contributed to this report.