A Florida Republican is raising money to support Desert Storm commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf for a 1992 Senate race, a venture that doesn't have the general's consent but could generate business for the organizer's company.
The organizer of the drive, W.J. "Jack" Latvala, is using his direct-mail company to raise money for the "Draft General Schwarzkopf '92 Committee," which under federal law can spend as much as it wants to support Schwarzkopf, provided he has no association with the group.Such independent expenditure campaigns have become increasingly popular in the past decade, often drawing criticism because of their heavy spending to influence elections. In some cases, the campaigns have been run by fund-raisers who funnel most of the money into additional mail appeals, generating business for their companies.
Latvala said he planned to charge the committee only "normal production costs, nothing more than what it costs to get into the mail."
A former executive director of the Florida Republican Party, Latvala said the group's first fund-raising appeal would be mailed to targeted voters in Florida early this week. The goal is to finance an advertising campaign to greet Schwarzkopf when he returns to his base in Tampa and try to persuade him to challenge Democratic Sen. Bob Graham.
"I think we might have some success," Latvala said. "It's not just a fund-raising ploy."
Latvala is the founder and president of Direct Mail Systems, a company that raises millions of dollars for Republican candidates and is a consultant to 22 state Republican parties.
Papers filed last week with the Federal Election Committee list Latvala as record-keeper and treasurer of the committee to draft Schwarzkopf, and give Direct Mail Systems' address as a mailing address. Latvala said a chairman of the committee would be named this week.
Schwarzkopf, commanding general of the Defense Department's Florida-based Central Command, is eligible to retire in August. Florida GOP officials have said he would be an ideal candidate to challenge Graham.
Schwarzkopf, however, has said he has no plans to enter politics and hasn't expressed a preference for either the Republican or Democratic parties.