WASHINGTON — You might call it the zombie campaign fund.
Although former U.S. Sen. Jim Exon, D-Neb., died in 2005, his campaign committee has continued doling out political donations.
Exon's beyond-the-grave giving exceeds $65,000, with nearly half going to a couple of dozen individual candidates. The committee also has supported the Democratic Party at the national, state and county levels.
It has mostly given to Nebraska candidates and institutions, with a few exceptions. It supported then-Sen. Barack Obama's political action committee. It gave $100 in January 2006 to John Morrison's Senate campaign in Montana. Morrison, the grandson of former Nebraska Gov. Frank Morrison, lost in the Democratic primary.
The committee also donated to Exon's son Steve, including $2,000 for his unsuccessful 2010 bid to become Bellevue's mayor.
Jim Exon's longtime friend Lincoln attorney Chuck Pallesen guided the committee's activities as its treasurer, handing out money in consultation with Exon's family and in keeping with the late senator's previous patterns of giving.
There are no prohibitions against a committee continuing to function after a candidate's death, but the Federal Election Commission recently sent a letter to the committee pointing out that it had reported giving $5,000 to Bob Kerrey's campaign.
That would have exceeded a $2,000-per-election limit on what the committee could donate.
The FEC addressed the letter to Pallesen — who died about a year ago.
The committee's activities have been handled since Pallesen's death by Gerry Finnegan, treasurer of the Nebraska Democratic Party. Finnegan told The World-Herald recently that he stepped in to run the committee and that he had a learning curve when it came to the committee's activities.
Although Finnegan overlooked the $2,000 limit, Kerrey's campaign staff caught it and never cashed the check. Later, the Exon committee sent Kerrey's campaign another check for $2,000.
Because the first check wasn't cashed, the Exon committee just has to amend its paperwork to clear up the confusion. It's in the process of doing so.
Soon, the Exon committee will be laid to rest.
Its remaining funds are being used to produce a book about Exon and his legacy. The book is headed to the printers shortly and should be out by the end of the month, in time for Christmas shoppers, Finnegan said.
“I'm really anxious to read the anecdotes,” Finnegan said.
The committee then will shut down, with any remaining funds going to support the Jim Exon library housed at Doane College, he said.
“We're going to be happy to end all the federal filings,” he said.
Finnegan called the book Pallesen's “last great work.”
“Chuck wanted this biography of Jim Exon's legacy to be in place,” he said. “He was just devoting himself to that.”
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