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Republican philanthropist pays pro-Gore legal bills

SAN JOSE, Calif. (Reuters) - A high-tech philanthropist -- and registered Republican -- has undertaken to help supporters of Democratic candidate Al Gore pay some of the mounting Florida legal bills.

Steve Kirsch, who founded Infoseek and has become one of Silicon Valley's most aggressive philanthropists, said he was paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to help pro-Gore forces battling over thousands of absentee votes in two Florida counties.

"I think you can very easily show statistically that Gore won the election, and it is just not right that the actual count does not reflect that," Kirsch told Reuters Wednesday.

"Even under the most extreme assumptions, the people of Florida voted for Gore."

Although a registered Republican, Kirsch has been a supporter of Gore's bid for the presidency since he met the vice president at a Silicon Valley fund-raiser featuring rock star Elton John.

With recount problems mounting in Florida after the election, Kirsch saw an opportunity to help.

He has thus far wired about $200,000 to Seminole and Martin counties, where Democrats are seeking to throw out some 15,000 absentee ballots in Republican-leaning regions, and has pledged to spend at least another $150,000.

"There were lawyers who were about to drop out of the case because they were not getting paid, they were doing it all pro bono," Kirsch said. "So I'm paying their legal bills."

Kirsch said he remained hopeful that Gore would eventually prevail in Florida and take the White House -- an unusual wish for a Republican multimillionaire.

"I tend to look at the candidates, I don't vote strictly on party lines by any stretch," Kirsch said. "Their position on the issues is just one thing. It's experience, it's proven track record, overall ability, overall intelligence. I'm very bipartisan in the way I vote."

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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Wednesday, December 6, 2000


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