WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential candidate Pat Robertson reversed himself Thursday and authorized the Treasury Department to send him federal campaign matching funds when the money starts flowing to the other candidates next week.
Robertson's campaign, in a letter to the Federal Election Commission, withdrew his earlier request that the FEC wait 30 days before sending him nearly $4.5 million in federal matching campaign funds.
The FEC will begin giving nearly $29 million in matching money to the 13 major candidates from the Democratic and Republican parties Monday, commission spokeswoman Karen Finucan said.
Earlier Thursday, Finucan said Democrat Jesse Jackson was so far ineligible for the funds, due to lack of adequate campaign finance documentation. She said it would take several days to go through the 'several boxes' of new Jackson campaign papers that arrived Thursday before the FEC can rule on his eligibility.
But Steven Lassiter, a spokesman for the Jackson campaign, said the FEC had completed an audit of documentation in 22 states concluding Jackson is eligible for matching funds. He will receive an initial payment of $250,000, he said.
FEC officials were unavailable to confirm Jackson's eligibility.
The FEC had not formally responded to Robertson's request for a delay, partly because it had never received such a request in the commission's 12-year history.
'In view of the informal response indicating that the Federal Election Commission is inclined to approve, in part, the request of Americans for Robertson Inc., as set forth in our letter of Dec. 29, 1987, we withdraw said letter. The proposal is not susceptible to response other than full aproval or full disapproval,' the Robertson campaign letter said.
'It would appear that they are asking,' for the funds,' Finucan said Thursday. 'It doesn't exactly say that, but we're certainly not going to look at stopping payment now.'
Finucan said the FEC had instructed the Treasury Department to transfer Robertson's matching funds to the campaign's account in Sovran Bank, Chesapeake, Va.
Robertson's delay request did not rule out accepting federal money but gave no reason for asking that the Treasury not send him his $4,495,607 in matching funds until as late as Feb. 3.
Washington attorney Marion Edwyn Harrison, Robertson's campaign lawyer who wrote both FEC letters, said Thursday that Robertson -- who has said he is philosophically opposed to the government helping finance presidential campaigns -- 'had hoped to avoid having to take the money for a while unless he really needed it.'
To be eligible for federal matching funds, candidates must first raise $100,000 from individuals, at least $5,000 in each of 20 states, with a $250 maximum from individuals.
Monday's payments, totaling $25,496,332, are the first matching funds to go to any of the candidates, who together have raised more than $70 million and spent $55 million through Sept. 30, the deadline for filing the latest FEC financial reports. The remaining $3.1 million is to go out Tuesday.
Fellow Democrat Gary Hart is low man on the FEC's list, with only $100,000 due him Monday, but his share is more than eaten up by two liens totaling $173,235 against his 1988 federal matching funds to satisfy 1984 campaign presidential campaign debts. -----
The eligible candidates will begin receiving the following matching funds next week:
Democrats: Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, $3,493,418; Rep. Richard Gephardt of Missouri, $1,737,216; Sen. Albert Gore of Tennessee, $1,556,401; Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois, $1,390,137; former Arizona Gov. Bruce Babbitt, $719,235; Jackson, $250,000; and Hart, $100,000.
Republicans: Vice President George Bush, $5,761,540; Robertson, $4,495,607, Senate Republican leader Robert Dole of Kansas, $4,338,141; Rep. Jack Kemp of New York, $3,012,949; former Delaware Gov. Pete du Pont, $1,868,762; and former Secretary of State Alexander Haig, $274,850.