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WASHINGTON-While congressional campaigns raised a total of $604.6 million from January 1, 2001 through June 30, 2002, these numbers still represent a 7% drop from the record levels of the 2000 campaign, according to data released by the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The bulk of the decline can be blamed on the Senate. Candidates have been forced to tighten their belts in light of the new economic environment. The FEC found that 1,746 Senate and House candidates spent $357.7 million in the first 18 months of the election cycle (down 11% from the same period in 1999-2000), and reported cash on hand of $373.2 million (up 4%) at the end of the second quarter. Senate candidates in this cycle’s 34 races reported receipts of $202.2 million, disbursements of $109.8 million, and cash balances of $110 million, for a 22% decline in fundraising and a 35% decline in spending. However, these comparisons must be given with the fact that more small population states have Senate elections this year. According to the FEC, a few campaigns can significantly affect totals. Meanwhile fundraising for House campaigns has increased slightly this election cycle through the end of June. Current campaigns raised $402.4 million (up 2%) and spent $247.9 million (6% above the previous cycle). The cash balance in aggregate totaled $263.1 million as of June 30. The increases are present in incumbent and open seat candidates from both parties, while challengers’ financial activity is below 2000 campaign levels. Contributions from individuals continue to be the largest source of income for congressional campaigns with $353.1 million this cycle, representing 58.4% of money raised as of June 30. Political Action Committees (PACs) and other groups’ contributions totaled $168.5 million (27.9%). Candidates have contributed or loaned $54.6 million (9%) of all receipts for the 2002 election cycle thus far. NAFCU Director of Legislative and Political Affairs Brad Thaler commented, “I think it’s a reflection of the economy; it’s probably the biggest factor in it.” He pointed out that if one were to look at charitable giving, those numbers are probably down as well due to less disposable income. Also, in the wake of September 11, 2001, he noted, there has not been the same level of `politics’ as in the past. [email protected]

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