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BATON ROUGE, La. – Persons running for president previously had to pay the $750 qualifying fee in Louisiana in cash or with a bank certified or cashier’s check, but an amendment would allow that fee to be written on a credit union check or money order. The Senate Governmental Affairs Committee passed Senate bill 55 on April 2, which would allow candidates to pay with a certified or cashier’s check or a money order from a credit union. The bill may have come about when Presidential candidate Al Sharpton attempted to pay officials the qualifying fee with a bank check that was not certified and subsequently denied, said Charles Halloran, Sharpton’s campaign manager. Sharpton then tried to present the $750 with a credit union check but that, too was not acceptable. “Mr. Sharpton did present a check with good funds at 10:00 that morning (on the last day to pay the fee), we got a call at 3:00 that afternoon saying the check was not acceptable because it wasn’t certified and because we were in South Carolina at the time, we had to scramble to meet the 5:00 deadline,” Halloran said. Halloran said they asked could they wire the $750 but was told no. Ultimately, they missed the deadline and Sharpton was not on the Louisiana presidential primary ballot. Besides Louisiana, “there are a few states that for whatever reason, only allow a bank-certified check,” Halloran pointed out. “The law (in Louisiana) has been on the books for quite some time.” “It seems antiquated and somewhat Katherine Harris-esque,” he added, referring to the former Florida secretary of state’s role in allowing Florida to recount votes during the 2000 presidential election. Despite leaving several messages, calls to Senator Charles Jones (D-Monroe), the author of Senate bill 55, were not returned by press time. Jones is also the chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee. When the bill came before the Senate, Louisiana Senator Jay Dardenne (R-Baton Rouge) admitted he said “this must be the Al Sharpton bill,” but it wasn’t meant to be disparaging, he emphasized. “This legislation makes sense because any political candidate seeking public office should be allowed to pay with a credit union check,” said Dardenne, who is also chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Dardenne said the bill now moves on to the House here but no action is expected until mid-May because representatives review House bills first. If passed, the amendment would become effective Jan. 1, 2005. Meanwhile, Sharpton has endorsed John Kerry as the Democrat presidential candidate even as he continues to campaign, Halloran said. Ironically, Louisiana is the same state that elected Kathleen Blanco, a board member at La Capitol Federal Credit Union in Baton Rouge, as its first woman governor. [email protected]

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