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Posted: 2/24/2006 9:08:22 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/24/2006 9:35:25 PM EDT by CRC]
Harris Got Illegal Donations
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By WILLIAM MARCH and KEITH EPSTEIN The Tampa Tribune

Published: Feb 25, 2006

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TAMPA - A defense contractor who pleaded guilty Friday to bribing a California congressman told federal authorities he also funneled illegal campaign contributions to U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris of Longboat Key, who's running for the U.S. Senate.

The contractor, Mitchell Wade, former chief executive of MZM Inc. in California, pleaded guilty to paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to Republican Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California and receiving more than $150 million in Defense Department contracts in return.

He also pleaded guilty to making about $80,000 in illegal campaign contributions to two other Congress members - identifiable from court papers and election records as Harris and Rep. Virgil Goode of Virginia, both Republicans - in hopes of receiving federal appropriations.

The Harris contributions were made to her 2004 campaign for re-election to the House. At the time, MZM, its officers and its political action committee were Harris' largest single source of campaign funds.

Wade also told prosecutors he met with Harris in early 2005 for dinner at an expensive Washington restaurant, where they discussed two possibilities: Wade holding a fundraiser for Harris, who was then considering a run for Senate, and U.S. Navy funding for an MZM center in Harris' district.

The program was never funded, according to the U.S. attorney prosecuting Wade.

It is illegal for Congress members to discuss or accept money in return for performing specific governmental acts.

A Harris spokeswoman confirmed Friday that Harris did have dinner with Wade and discussed both subjects, but denied there was any connection between them.

Harris has acknowledged accepting the MZM contributions but said she did not know they were illegal and never performed any service for MZM in return. She has since donated the contributions to charity.

Wade did not tell Harris and Goode the contributions were illegal, according to the prosecutor.

"Today's announcement is an unfortunate reality," Harris said in a written statement. "I am disappointed by the disrespect shown by a few individuals to the rule of law."

Harris' statement said she and Wade had "discussed opening a defense plant in Sarasota that would create numerous high-skilled, high-wage jobs in my district."

She did not respond to a request for an interview.

Investigation Continues
Under Wade's plea agreement, he faces up to 11 years and three months of incarceration. A sentencing date has not been set.

The prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Wainstein of the Washington district, said the investigation continues and that Wade is cooperating.

According to a news release by Wainstein, Wade hoped to curry favor with Harris and Goode because he thought they could request appropriations that would benefit MZM.

Wade, however, "needed a way around the campaign contribution laws," which limit contributions to $2,000 per person, Wainstein said.

"His solution was to have his employees and their spouses make contributions ... under their own names, then reimburse them - a technique known as 'straw contributions' that is a felony under federal election law."

In a news conference announcing Wade's plea, Wainstein added, "Wade personally handed a number of those checks to each representative, followed by the inevitable request that that representative seek appropriations funding that would benefit MZM."

When news reports first surfaced last year suggesting that Wade had coerced employees to make contributions, Harris offered to return the money to any MZM employee who desired it. She got no response, she said.

After Cunningham pleaded guilty in December, Harris promised to give the money away. Two weeks ago, she donated more than $50,000 to Habitat for Humanity - the MZM contributions plus others from Indian tribes linked to indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Treasurer Recently Replaced
The Wade plea comes 10 days after Harris' campaign hired a new treasurer to replace Nancy Watkins of Tampa's Robert Watkins and Co., one of the state's leading experts on campaign finance accounting.

Neither side would talk about Watkins' departure, but asked whether it had anything to do with the MZM contributions, Watkins said, "Absolutely not."

"Never, ever would a contribution get into one of my client's bank accounts if I knew there was something improper about it," Watkins said.

Harris' Senate campaign spokeswoman Morgan Dobbs said the campaign "just decided to switch accounting firms," but added later, "The campaign did not fire Nancy Watkins."

Harris said in her statement: "This case demonstrates the perils of a process in which candidates are sometimes asked to determine the intent of a contributor. I am fully committed to addressing any weaknesses in the law with regard to the exercise of our government and the spirit of democracy."

Harris ran into trouble with illegal contributions before.

During her 1994 campaign for state Senate, she received $20,293 from Riscorp, a Sarasota insurance company at the heart of one of the state's biggest political fundraising scandals.

In 1998, five of the Sarasota insurance company's top executives, including founder William Griffin, were sentenced for scheming to conceal $380,000 in illegal contributions between 1990 and 1996.

Harris got more than any other politician except Tom Gallagher, then state insurance commissioner and now chief financial officer and a candidate for governor. Gallagher received $109,000.

One Riscorp memo in the court file contended that Harris' former campaign manager asked that the contributions be made under separate addresses so that the checks could not be easily be traced back to the company.

Harris, like Gallagher, denied knowing the contributions were illegal. She eventually donated the proceeds to charity.

Harris also sought to repair the damage by proposing legislation limiting bundles of contributions by corporations and their subsidiaries.

The legislation didn't pass.

Larry Noble of the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan government watchdog group, said it's legal for a Congress member such as Harris to discuss legislation with a donor, but not legal to link donations to specific government actions.

There is a "fine line between bribery and a contribution," he said. "The line is where there's a quid pro quo."

"There's nothing illegal about him handing over contributions and saying, 'By the way, I have an issue I'd like you think about.' ... But if he's saying we expect you to get us these contracts, you might have a bribe."

Harris is the only widely known Republican seeking the nomination to run against U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, a Democrat seeking re-election in November.

"I would hope that ethics matters to the voters," said Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin. "In this case, the congressman who got the most amount of bribes from MZM is on his way to prison. The congressman congresswoman who got second-most illegal money wants to be a U.S. senator."

Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:11:16 PM EDT
Uh, you might want to revise the title. She has not been convicted, much less charged.
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:12:39 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Uh, you might want to revise the title. She has not been convicted, much less charged.



+1
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:20:34 PM EDT
They'll get around to convicitng her. It's a certainty.
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:20:39 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/24/2006 9:20:55 PM EDT by roboman]

Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Uh, you might want to revise the title. She has not been convicted, much less charged.



But it goes against CRC's style to sensationalize and blow things out of proportion......
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:22:37 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CRC:
They'll get around to convicitng her. It's a certainty.



Innocent until proven guilty?
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:24:40 PM EDT
She's a crook.
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:25:40 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CRC:
They'll get around to convicitng her. It's a certainty.



Here's a suggestion for you: read, then cut & paste.


Originally Posted By CRC:
Wade did not tell Harris and Goode the contributions were illegal, according to the prosecutor.



Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:25:57 PM EDT
Well lets see, we have this D--khead Lawyer named Jeffrey Fieger in Mich that "allegedly" gave illegal contributions from his company using his employees to donate. He then "gave" them bonuses that just happened to cover the donations. You won't hear much tho as he is a Democrat Lawyer. Surprise, Surprise. FBI seized all his records a while ago, but the media is just sitting on this. They won't bother to do many writeups or any investigation worth a darn. This was in the neighborhood of 350K or more.
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:26:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:

Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Uh, you might want to revise the title. She has not been convicted, much less charged.



But it goes against CRC's style to sensationalize and blow things out of proportion......



+1
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:29:01 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CRC:
She's a crook.



Maybe so, but based on the article you posted, you might as well have titled it "Katherine Harris Goes to Mars" and then posted in the thread "She will be Queen of England, no doubt" and "She is made of polyurethane and stuffed with chunks of basalt."
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:31:00 PM EDT

Originally Posted By FLAL1A:

Originally Posted By CRC:
She's a crook.



Maybe so, but based on the article you posted, you might as well have titled it "Katherine Harris Goes to Mars" and then posted in the thread "She will be Queen of England, no doubt" and "She is made of polyurethane and stuffed with chunks of basalt."



He was too busy desperately C&Ping and making a nice exagerated title to actually read the article.
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:33:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By fxntime:
Well lets see, we have this D--khead Lawyer named Jeffrey Fieger in Mich that "allegedly" gave illegal contributions from his company using his employees to donate. He then "gave" them bonuses that just happened to cover the donations. You won't hear much tho as he is a Democrat Lawyer. Surprise, Surprise. FBI seized all his records a while ago, but the media is just sitting on this. They won't bother to do many writeups or any investigation worth a darn. This was in the neighborhood of 350K or more.



Who did he give to?
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:33:51 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Uh, you might want to revise the title. She has not been convicted, much less charged.



He has a habit of writing misleading headlines.
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:38:23 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/24/2006 9:40:19 PM EDT by LANCEMAN]
I doubt she has much of a chance against Bill Nelson anyway. The whole Senate run seemed kinda doomed from the start. I still think she is hot though (ETA: without all that damned makeup)


Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:42:24 PM EDT
You just have two crooks running (Nelson and Harris)
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:44:50 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/25/2006 9:11:35 AM EDT by Big_Bear]
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:45:11 PM EDT

Originally Posted By CRC:
You just have two crooks running (Nelson and Harris)



Perhaps, but we definitely have one who gets off on making up headlines.
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 9:48:03 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Tomislav:

Originally Posted By CRC:
You just have two crooks running (Nelson and Harris)



Perhaps, but we definitely have one who gets off on making up headlines.



Agreed.

Here, let me try to present a new article like CRC.

Here goes...



SD GOVERNER SIGNS ABORTION BAN BILL WITH SMILE ON FACE, SCOTUS WILL EXAMINE CASE

PIERRE – As the South Dakota House of Representatives gave final approval today to a bill aimed at banning most abortions and creating a U.S. Supreme Court challenge to the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, Gov. Mike Rounds said he’s inclined to sign it.

The House gave final approval to the bill with a 50-18 vote Friday afternoon.

At a press conference Friday morning, Rounds said he will sign the bill if he determines that it can save lives.

“I’ve indicated I’m pro-life and I do believe abortion is wrong, and that we should do everything we can to save lives,” Rounds said. “If this bill accomplishes that, then I am inclined to sign the bill into law.”

But Rounds said he didn’t necessarily agree with the “frontal assault” tactic the bill takes to overturning the decision that legalized abortion.

“Personally, I think we will save more lives by continuing to chip away at Roe v. Wade,” he said.

The bill would ban nearly all abortions in South Dakota. That’s unconstitutional under current U.S. Supreme Court rulings, and the goal of the legislation is to force the high court to take a fresh look at its 1973 ruling that legalized abortion.

Both chambers of the Legislature now have passed the bill, and it could be delivered to the governor by early next week.

If Rounds signs the bill, abortion rights advocates have said they plan to file a lawsuit to keep it from taking effect July 1.

“I have to say I’m disappointed in the news that the governor has indicated he would sign the bill,” Kate Looby, state director of Planned Parenthood, said Thursday.

“We’re still hopeful he’ll hear the voices of women and families in South Dakota that say, ‘Please don’t sign this bill; please protect the health and safety of the women in this state.’ ”

Rounds said Friday that he would have 15 days to review the bill and make sure it does what sponsors say it does. Rounds could either sign the bill, exercise a couple of different veto options or allow the bill to pass without his signature.

“My inclination, once again, it sounds like a hedge when I say it, but truly we will look at the fine details in the bill to make sure it does what the sponsors intend it to do first,’’ he said.

Rep. Roger Hunt, R-Brandon, said he expects the governor to sign the measure into law.

“We’ve fixed his concerns from two years ago and fixed the contents of the bill,” Hunt said. “We’ll know within probably about 15 days, because that’s the time that he would have to file a veto.”

For the latest coverage from the South Dakota Legislature, check back regularly with argusleader.com and read Saturday's Argus Leader.


Link Posted: 2/24/2006 10:04:58 PM EDT
Oh boy politicians do things that aren`t on the up and up? I like Katherine Harris, got her autograph on my first concealed weapons license
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 10:21:26 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/24/2006 10:25:48 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:

Originally Posted By Tomislav:

Originally Posted By CRC:
You just have two crooks running (Nelson and Harris)



Perhaps, but we definitely have one who gets off on making up headlines.



Agreed.

Here, let me try to present a new article like CRC.

Here goes...



Well done! Now you too can post a article with a wildly inaccurate headline in some pathetic attempt to bump the 'read' counter for your thread!
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 3:15:57 AM EDT

Originally Posted By LANCEMAN:
I still think she is hot though (ETA: without all that damned makeup)


Yeah, nice rack. I heard her on Hannity one afternoon, though, and she sounded dumber than a box of rocks. She was giggling about how she'd just gotten her first bill passed -- some socialist drivel that if a Dem had pushed it through, Hannity would be screaming his head off. He embarassedly shut her call down quickly and moved on.

We can only hope that she loses any upcoming election she's in and goes back to being a low-level appointee somewhere.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 4:34:35 AM EDT
She will be charged once all of the democrats who took money from them are also charged.
Patty Murray comes to mind.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 4:41:45 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/25/2006 4:47:44 AM EDT by Keith_J]

Originally Posted By CRC:
She's a crook.



You are a liar.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 7:02:56 AM EDT

Originally Posted By IronSamVane:
I like Katherine Harris, got her autograph on my first concealed weapons license




Me too! Now we have Charles Bronson, how ironic is that!

I like her very much & the fact that she is pro 2nd is great.

Link Posted: 2/25/2006 7:08:17 AM EDT
I hope to be voting for her in November.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 7:11:46 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Tomislav:

Originally Posted By CRC:
You just have two crooks running (Nelson and Harris)


Perhaps, but we definitely have one who gets off on making up headlines.


+1.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 7:55:49 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Wobblin-Goblin:

Originally Posted By Tomislav:

Originally Posted By CRC:
You just have two crooks running (Nelson and Harris)


Perhaps, but we definitely have one who gets off on making up headlines.


+1.


+2
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 8:03:57 AM EDT
Either's she's a crook or you're guilty of libel.

I'm betting against you.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 8:19:47 AM EDT
I see, someone doesn't like Katherine Harris .

____________________



Link Posted: 2/25/2006 9:03:25 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Keith_J:
Uh, you might want to revise the title. She has not been convicted, much less charged.



What he said.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 9:08:34 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Keith_J:

Originally Posted By CRC:
She's a crook.



You are a liar.



She turned me into a newt.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 9:09:15 AM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:

Originally Posted By CRC:
They'll get around to convicitng her. It's a certainty.



Innocent until proven guilty?



Guilty, in any case, as a result of being a Republican. The media ALWAYS sharpen their knives when the smell the blood of a Republican politician.
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 2:25:19 PM EDT

Originally Posted By 95thFoot:

Originally Posted By roboman:

Originally Posted By CRC:
They'll get around to convicitng her. It's a certainty.



Innocent until proven guilty?



Guilty, in any case, as a result of being a Republican. The media ALWAYS sharpen their knives when the smell the blood of a Republican politician.



Like sharks to the scent.....
Link Posted: 2/25/2006 8:46:38 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/25/2006 8:47:57 PM EDT by RichardM308]
Consider the source...after all, we trust the media to report accurately on everything else, right?

FLAL1A: I wouldn't say they're chunks of basalt...
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