Fayetteville (Ap) _ Fayetteville Lawyer Wade Byrd Knows A Little ...

The Associated Press Political Service

Copyright 1997. The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

Sunday, April 27, 1997

FAYETTEVILLE (AP) _ Fayetteville lawyer Wade Byrd knows a little ...

Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE (AP) _ Fayetteville lawyer Wade Byrd knows a little
about soft money campaign contributions.

Last year, he gave $75,000 to the national Democratic
Congressional Campaign Committee and another $20,000 to the national
Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

He also gave thousands of dollars to the state Democratic Party
and to candidates such as Gov. Jim Hunt, Attorney General Mike Easley
and Supreme Court Chief Justice Burley Mitchell. He contributed to
congressional and Senate races from North Carolina to Wyoming.

Byrd gave so much money, in fact, that he lost count before the
year was over.

It was about $150,000, according to state and federal campaign
finance records.

"I want to be a player," Byrd says. "I want to be involved. I
want to be part of the process."

Byrd is a player in the soft money game, the unregulated flow of
money to party committees to help individual candidates.

He gave $20,000, for example, to the Democratic Senatorial
Campaign Committee to help former Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt in his
race against U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms. Under federal law, people cannot
give more than $2,000 directly to an individual candidate.

"That's the way Harvey wanted it rather than it going directly to
Harvey," Byrd says.

Byrd is one of the leading medical malpractice lawyers in the
country. Despite the prevalent view that soft money gives the
wealthy access not afforded to middle-class voters, he looks at it
his donations differently.

"I represent little people," he says. "My clients are workers and
injured people and brain-damaged babies, and those people don't
really have a voice. They're not IBM and they're not the phone
company and they're not the banks and the chambers of commerce, and
they need a voice.