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Washington County bucks back Shuster

November 01, 2000

Washington County bucks back Shuster



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Washington County residents contributing $200 or more to federal campaigns gave more to Pennsylvania Congressman Bud Shuster in the last two years than to any other candidate, according to Federal Election Commission records.

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Shuster, a Republican, received $11,500 in 12 donations of more than $200 from county residents.

U.S. Rep Roscoe G. Bartlett, R-Md., who represents Washington County, had 11 contributions of $200 or more totaling $7,300 from county residents.

Bartlett attributed the difference to Shuster's status as chairman of the powerful House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

"Bud is a very influential person. He's probably the most influential and powerful congressman. We need roads and Bud Shuster funds the roads," Bartlett said.

Bartlett said most of the contributions to his campaign are less than $200, and the average contribution is $25. As of Oct. 16, Bartlett's campaign had received more than $216,000 in contributions.

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Bartlett said he's the most conservative member of Congress, and people give to his campaign because "they support my agenda of less government and less taxes."

The major individual contributions to Donald DeArmon, Bartlett's Democratic opponent, were two $1,000 donations, according to FEC records.

DeArmon said large contributions typically go to the incumbents.

Some Shuster contributors from Washington County said they gave to the Pennsylvania politician because they have business ties to his district, which includes Franklin and Fulton counties, and believe he's a good congressman.

"We felt like he was the right person," said Evelyn Monnett, who gave $1,000 to Shuster's campaign.

Monnett is in charge of the bookkeeping at Craig Paving in Hagerstown. The company is owned by her father and does work in Pennsylvania.

She said her family also owns a shopping mall in Greencastle, Pa., which is in Shuster's congressional district.

Monnett said for business and personal reasons she favors the proposed widening of Interstate 81. Because Shuster is chairman of the transportation committee his support is important for that project.

"I can't say what the next guy would do. But I know that this guy is working for that," Monnett said.

L. David Black, chairman of the board for JLG Industries, gave $1,000 each to the campaigns of Shuster and U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.

"These are the individuals I believe have it right," said Black. He said that JLG, which builds aerial work platforms, is based in Pennsylvania and does a lot of business in the state.

"My interest stems from the business," he said.

Shuster's office refused to comment for this story.

The contribution figures come from an FEC database on the FEC Web site, www.fec.gov, which lists contributions of $200 or more and money returned to contributors. According to FEC spokespeople, the database includes all contributions of $200 or more through June. Contributions made since then are not guaranteed to show up on the database at this time, but eventually will be on the database.

A search of the database for all 1999 and 2000 contributions from individuals with Washington County zip codes turned up about 145 listings totaling $80,845.

Presidential candidates received more than $16,000, led by Texas Gov. George W. Bush, who raised $8,800.

Candidates for the U.S. Senate and House who are not from Maryland raised about $20,000, as Washington County residents sent money to candidates from all over the country including some in California, New York and Indiana.

More than $21,000 went to PACs.

Republican committees took in about $9,000, while Democratic committees raised $870.

John Bast, owner of Bast Funeral Home in Boonsboro, is one of the most active Washington County contributors according to the FEC information.

Bast, who is also listed as John H., John H. Jr. and John Jr. in FEC records, gave $3,580 to Bartlett, Republican groups and the Philip Morris and funeral directors PACs in 1999 and 2000.

Bast says he's a conservative and he contributes to candidates and causes he believes in, such as Bartlett.

"He's representative of conservative ideas," Bast said.

He said he gave $800 to the Philip Morris Companies PAC in part because he has stock in the company and because he feels tobacco companies have been treated unfairly in recent years.

"The (cigarette) packs have a warning," he said.

Bast said he supports the National Funeral Directors Association PAC for obvious reasons.

He said the business PACs play an important role in Congress. Without those PACs, Bast said, the businesses would "get run over."

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