Glenn's failed presidential campaign still owes millions

WASHINGTON (AP) - It has been 20 years since former Ohio Sen. John Glenn ran for president, but he still owes $2.61 million for his failed bid, records show.

The Cleveland Democrat took out a series of loans in 1984 in an attempt to boost his campaign and win the nomination from former Vice President Walter Mondale. Glenn used the money for television advertising but poor showings in the Iowa caucuses and New Hampshire and Alabama primary elections prompted him to withdraw from the race a few weeks later.

Mondale won the nomination but lost the November election to President Reagan.

Reports filed with the Federal Election Commission show Glenn's debt has lingered on throughout the years, despite some payments made by the now dormant campaign.

"There are no plans or any ongoing activities," said Mary Jane Veno, a senior adviser to Glenn at the Glenn Institute at Ohio State University. "At this point, in my opinion, no more of his personal money would be used to reduce the debt or pay it off."

Veno did not immediately return a phone call Monday seeking additional information.

The campaign has paid $1.85 million to the four banks that financed the loans, but the interest on the loan has continued to climb. The Friends of John Glenn committee owes $1.7 million in interest and $569,846 in principal, records show.

In 1993, the FEC granted Glenn a waiver to use his personal money to pay off the debts.

Since then, he has used $450,000 of his own money to pay back dozens of small companies and individuals who he had borrowed money from. His remaining debts include the bank loans and a law firm.

In 1997, the FEC rejected a proposed settlement that would have allowed Glenn to pay the banks the original $2 million borrowed and have the interest waived. The FEC said that would have resulted in the banks making an illegal corporate contribution to the campaign.

A final payment of $500,000 was made to the banks in 1998.

The campaign debt could continue indefinitely, said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington.

"This is always a problem with candidates who lose who borrow a lot of money. It's hard to raise money after you've lost," he said.

Officials from two of the banks, Huntington Bank and National City Bank, declined to comment on the loans. The other two banks that loaned the money no longer exist: Ameritrust is now part of KeyBank of Cleveland and Bank Ohio was bought by National City Bank of Cleveland.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)