Candidate wants to sell Beanie Babies to raise funds

Monday, March 22, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:42 p.m. CDT, Sunday, June 29, 2008

Columbia Democrat Lara Underwood was hoping to capitalize on the Ty Beanie Baby fad by auctioning 12 Democratic donkeys and one Republican elephant through an online service.

Unfortunately, a little bean counting by the Missouri Ethics Commission threw a monkey wrench into the General Assembly candidate’s plans.

Underwood, 25, is competing with four other Columbia Democrats and one Republican for the 25th House District seat currently held by Rep. Vicky Riback Wilson, who cannot run again because of term limits.

Underwood’s campaign had initially planned to launch its Beanie Baby fund-raiser on eBay, the Internet auctioneering site, beginning March 12. But in a statement issued three days later, campaign manager David Rosman said the event was postponed.

Rosman said the state ethics commission had raised concerns about third-party collection of campaign contributions and a law that limits individual donations to House candidates to $300.

“We want to be absolutely sure that we are not in violation of state laws concerning the use of the Internet for fund raising,” Rosman’s statement said.

In a later interview, Rosman said he was waiting to hear from eBay to determine if the site can effectively cap bids at $300. As for the questions about third-party contributions, he said the campaign is allowed to declare the online payment system eBay uses to handle customer transactions as an agent for the campaign.

The setback didn’t stop Underwood from doing a little stumping at a fund-raiser Saturday at Columbia’s Upper Crust bakery.

The soon-to-be MU School of Law graduate used the spotlight to criticize what she called “badly written laws” passed by the General Assembly, including cuts in funding for children’s health care.

“Right now, I’m not proud of the legislation,” Underwood said.

Columbia College student Laura Miller, 27, one of about 15 people who attended the event, said afterwards she would likely support Underwood.

“She’s supportive of single moms and other issues,” Miller said. “And after that speech, I’m sold.”

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