You know all that Democratic talk about getting big, dirty money out of politics?
National fundraising committees for the Democratic and Republican parties, President Barack Obama, and other major politicians have declined to return campaign donations totaling $1.8 million from Houston financier R. Allen Stanford, now on trial for allegedly masterminding a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
The court-appointed receiver charged with returning money to Stanford investors obtained a federal court order last June against five Democratic and Republican campaigns. But they haven’t returned the money. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee received $950,500; the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), $238,500; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $200,000; the Republican National Committee $128,500, and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) $83,345.
The contributions to the campaign committees and candidates were given by Stanford himself, Stanford executives, and a political action committee associated with the financier.
The receiver, Ralph Janvey, is also trying to claw back money Stanford donated to individual politicians. The list of his recipients reads like a who’s who of Washington, including President Obama – who received $4,600 from Stanford in his 2008 election campaign – Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas), the chairman of the NRCC, and Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee. Janvey is seeking these funds informally, and has not filed lawsuits.
Money has already been returned by House Speaker John Boehner, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Sen. John McCain, among others. But the roughly $154,000 recovered from elected officials is a fraction of the $1.8 million still outstanding.
The $4,600 Janvey is seeking from the Obama campaign reflects only direct contributions from Allen Stanford himself. The total may be as high $31,000 when Stanford’s contributions to Obama’s other campaign committees are included, along with money from senior Stanford executives, and the Stanford Financial Group’s now defunct PAC, according to campaign finance records and an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics.
…The receiver first wrote to the Obama campaign five days after it gave the money to charity in 2009, asking that it instead be returned to investors.
“If you have already donated such amounts to charity, we request you consider donating an equal amount to the Receivership,” Janvey wrote back on February 23, 2009. “By returning such amounts to the Receivership Estate, you will help reduce the losses suffered by victims of the alleged fraud.”
More tainted cash out West:
Federal investigators have reportedly been handing down subpoenas in the case of a Nevada political operative who allegedly made illegal campaign contributions to politicians like Sen. Harry Reid, and who is also embroiled in a heated legal battle with former business partners that involves accusations about everything from murder threats to jewel thefts.
The case began with a lawsuit by Harvey Whittemore’s former business partners, Thomas Seeno, his brother Albert Seeno Jr. and his son Albert Seeno III, who accused Whittemore of misappropriating and embezzling over $40 million from Wingfield Nevada Group Holding Company LLC, a limited liability company in Nevada.
Whittemore is a lawyer and former lobbyist with political ties all over the state, and he and his wife have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Democrats and Republicans alike, including Sen. Harry Reid (D), Rep. Shelley Berkley (D), Sen. Dean Heller (R) and former Sen. John Ensign (R).
The Reno Gazette-Journal reports that on Friday Sen. Reid and Rep. Berkley announced that they will be giving away the contributions in the wake of Whittemore’s legal troubles.
“Senator Reid has already donated the contributions made by Mr. Whittemore and his spouse to charity,” said a Reid spokesman. “His office will continue to review other contributions associated with Mr. Whittemore, and treat them appropriately.”
A spokesman for Berkley said her campaign would be “disposing” of the funds.
Last week, the Obama campaign finally decided to return funds from the crime-linked Cardona family:
When The New York Times asked the Obama campaign early Monday about the Cardonas, officials said they were unaware of the brother in Mexico. Later in the day, the campaign said it was refunding the money raised by the family, which totaled more than $200,000.
As recently as January of last year, one of Mr. Cardona’s brothers in Chicago, Carlos Rojas Cardona, arranged for the former chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party to seek a pardon from the governor for Pepe Cardona, according to prosecutors in that state. None was forthcoming.
Last fall, Carlos Cardona and another brother in Chicago, Alberto Rojas Cardona, began raising money for the Obama campaign and the Democratic National Committee. The Cardona brothers, who have no prior history of political giving, appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the world of Democratic fund-raising, Democratic activists said.
The money Alberto Cardona raised put him in the upper tiers of fund-raisers known as bundlers, according to a list released last month by the campaign. He and Carlos Cardona each gave the maximum $30,800 to the Democratic National Committee, and a lesser amount to a state victory fund. A sister, Leticia Rojas Cardona of Tennessee, donated $13,000 to the national committee, and another relative in Illinois gave $12,600, records show.
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