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Springer Spent $1.1M Not to Run

The first glimpse of how talk show host Jerry Springer spent the $1.1 million he poured into his now-defunct exploratory Senate campaign was made available last week, when third-quarter fundraising reports were filed with the Federal Election Commission.

Springer spent the bulk of his money on media and polling over nine months while he was weighing a challenge to Ohio Sen. George Voinovich (R) in 2004. He announced he would not seek the Democratic nomination in August, after determining that voters would be unable to separate the campaign from his image as a tabloid TV ringmaster.

The top beneficiary of Springer’s exploratory effort was the Alexandria, Va.-based firm Trippi, McMahon and Squier Inc., which received almost $422,000 for “media” work. One of the firm’s partners, Joe Trippi, is managing the presidential campaign of former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean (D).

Among other things, the firm produced a 30-minute biographical infomercial designed to help Springer tap into a national donor base.

Springer’s second largest expenditure was for polling. He spent close to $220,000 for survey research conducted by two firms, the report shows.

Washington-based Democratic pollster Diane Feldman of The Feldman Group received a little more than $57,000 while Paul Maslin of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates was paid a total of $161,000 in five installments.

Springer, a former Cincinnati mayor who once ran for governor of the Buckeye State, had said he would run in 2004 only if he could break through the “clutter” of his show, and ultimately the polling showed he could not.

In ending his Senate bid, Springer did not rule out running for political office in the future and just last week hinted that he might be eyeing another run for governor in 2006, when the office becomes open.

Meanwhile, Voinovich is heavily favored to win a second Senate term next year. State Sen. Eric Fingerhut, the only Democrat now running for Senate, reported $258,000 in cash on hand at the end of September. Voinovich had $4.1 million.

Although Springer did not announce the formation of an exploratory committee until mid-June, the report showed he was reaching into his own pocket to test the Senate waters as far back as January. He paid close to $10,000 to a North Carolina-based management company to conduct an issue group on Jan. 22.

Also in June, Springer launched a Web site to help raise funds for his bid, and his FEC report shows that he paid Annapolis-based Low Dollar Technologies close to $65,000 for Weblog and telemarketing services.

The take from that endeavor, and the infomercial, was close to $12,000 in unitemized contributions from individuals. All of the money was returned to donors.

But Springer, a millionaire who never reached the point at which he would be required to disclose his approximate net worth, had indicated he was willing to self-fund his campaign. In his statement of candidacy he reported that he was prepared to spend more than $2 million in the primary and $4 million in the the general election.

The Sept. 30 report, which also effectively terminated his exploratory committee, details 29 itemized donations Springer made to his campaign between Jan. 22 and Sept. 26, totaling $1.13 million. Springer dumped in the majority of funds between July and September and spent all but $795.64, which he donated to Tender Mercies, a Cincinnati-based charity.

The only itemized contribution not from his own wallet was a $500 donation from Maryland-based communications consultant Mike Ford, a longtime Springer friend who was expected to manage his campaign if it had materialized. Springer returned the money to Ford in September.

Ford’s firm, Bay Communications, was paid about $152,000 for “media and management” during Springer’s campaign exploration.

Other staff were also compensated well for their work on the campaign.

Dale Butland, a one-time aide to former Ohio Democratic Sens. Howard Metzenbaum and John Glenn who served as spokesman for the exploratory effort, received roughly $67,000 in consulting fees. Jene Galvin, another longtime Springer friend who traveled with the talk show host as he crisscrossed the state on the rubber chicken dinner circuit, was paid $27,000 as a consultant.

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