Ed Rollins' Jersey Jolter

Republican political consultant Ed Rollins has never been known for cautious speech. But the manager of Christine Todd Whitman's successful bid to become governor of New Jersey raised eyebrows on Nov. 9 with his admission that Whitman forces had given $500,000 to black leaders and church officials to refrain from encouraging their Democratic constituents to vote.

Payment of "walking-around money" is a political tradition in many American cities. Normally, however, the money is paid to local leaders to turn out the vote, not to abstain from doing so.

The episode was embarrassing to the GOP, but it's unlikely to hurt Rollins' career. In 1990, while heading the House Republicans' official campaign committee, Rollins enraged the White House by urging GOP congressional candidates to attack George Bush's budget deal. And he caused apoplexy in Republican circles by signing on briefly as head of Ross Perot's Presidential campaign. In some cities, a man with Rollins' record might never be asked to lunch again. But in Washington, says GOP consultant Jay Severin III, "he'll dine nicely and in good conscience."