The Rogue Candidate

The Embarrassing Midlife Crisis of Steve Forbes, Rich White Guy

Yet AHGO has never been registered with the FEC. It's a nonprofit corporation registered with the New Jersey secretary of state. As such, it's never had to abide by fundraising limits that apply to PACs, nor is it subject to contributor disclosure requirements. And this worked well for Forbes, who raised more money in 1997-approximately $4 million-through AHGO than any other presidential hopeful did through their own PAC. Though Forbes once magnanimously declared he would "voluntarily" post a list of donors on AHGO's Web site, he never did. But, then, that's in keeping with standard Forbes practice as well. As a candidate, Forbes has advocated expansive electronic filing of tax returns, as well as what the Center for Responsive Politics characterizes as "full and prompt electronic disclosure of campaign finance records."

Though he proudly kicked off his campaign on the Internet, guess who didn't file electronically to the FEC, thus making citizen access to an accounting of Forbes's war chest more difficult? Of the just over $2 million in individual contributions of over $200 (that's 10.8 percent of what's in Forbes's coffers), fully one quarter of those are bereft of donor identification. Not that it matters that much, though; almost 80 percent of Steve Forbes's campaign money comes from Steve Forbes. Yet unlike Perot, who simply gave himself the money, Forbes technically loans himself the money-if he wants, he can use his campaign contributions, however paltry, to pay himself back.

Even so, perhaps, for the sake of the polity, his dignity, and his financial holdings, Steve should have emulated Daddy and just bought himself a Harley.

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