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"Bozo's on the way out."-- Bob Dole on Bill Clinton, two days after their Oct. 6 debate, when the Republican told the Chief Executive that he would respect the PresidencyEDITED BY LARRY LIGHTReturn to top

BUSINESS PACS' DONKEY BUSINESS

CORPORATE AMERICA ISN'T exactly going all out to help Newt Gingrich keep control of the House. With Democrats targeting about 30 vulnerable GOP freshmen, Republicans want to protect their 19-seat cushion by picking up seats in GOP-leaning areas that incumbent Dems are vacating.

But corporate political action committee giving in five of the hottest such open-seat races offers a disturbing picture for the Republicans. A BUSINESS WEEK analysis shows big business betting on Democrats (albeit moderate, pro-business ones) much of the time. Consider Alabama's Third District, which favored George Bush in 1988 and 1992. Democrat T.D. "Ted" Little has raked in more corporate bucks--from such PACs as CSX and BellSouth--than Republican rival Robert Riley. The gap is even wider in Florida's Second, which Bush won in '88 and narrowly lost in '92. Democrat Allen Boyd has outpaced former state Commerce Secretary Bill Sutton almost sevenfold in the business PAC harvest.

Democratic chances of regaining the House have improved lately, and Corporate America wants friends on both sides of the aisle. Huffs Jeff Butzke, PAC manager for the National Federation of Independent Business, which pushes Republican candidates: "Big business always does this."EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT By Mary Beth ReganReturn to top

TABLE

Business PAC Giving

1995 THROUGH AUG. 31, 1996

DISTRICT GOP DEM

ALA. 3 $15,000 $17,600

ALA. 4 4,000 11,500

FLA. 2 9,500 65,800

FLA. 11 7,000 3,800

N.C. 7 6,075 3,050

DATA: FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION, BUSINESS WEEK

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BEWARE THE INFO HIGHWAYMEN

CYBERCROOKS ARE BUSILY setting up shop on the Internet. And one of their most popular new scams, according to the National Consumers League, is the time-dishonored pyramid scheme--in which a mark is gulled into parting with "investment" money by promises of riches and signs up other chumps. Then the con artist vanishes.

Earlier this year, the Federal Trade Commission shut down such an alleged fraud. Something called Fortuna Alliance had a home page that promised profits of more than $5,250 per month in return for a $250 investment. Some who fell for it set up their own home pages to entice new recruits. The FTC says the scheme took in $6 million-plus. The agency brought a civil action against two people, who it says fled the country.

The Consumers League, an independent nonprofit group, says small-business owners are big targets. They often pay up front for computer gear or Net services such as Web-site design. The goods sometimes don't materialize.

A lot of con jobs are billed as hot business opportunities. With one, you pay $3,000 to $16,000 for the privilege of selling software packages that, among other things, help Junior find college scholarships. Too bad you earn nowhere near the promised $4,000 per month.EDITED BY LARRY LIGHT Amy BarrettReturn to top


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