Former defense contractor and current convicted criminal Mitchell Wade spent $2,800 on a dinner with Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL) and offered to throw a campaign fundraiser for her as he was attempting to gain her support for $10 million in federal money, according to the Orlando Sentinel. House rules prohibit members from accepting any gift or meal worth more than $50 from corporate officials or lobbyists. Harris also received $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions from Wade. Harris’ explanation for the dinner has been less than satisfactory:
In her interview Wednesday, Harris acknowledged for the first time that Wade had paid for the dinner at Citronelle, reversing a statement from her congressional spokeswoman earlier this year.
But in the interview, Harris also said her campaign had, at some point, “reimbursed” the restaurant.
When asked how she could have reimbursed a business that was owed no money — Wade paid the bill that evening — she abruptly ended the interview and walked off.
Her spokesman called back an hour later and asked a reporter not to publish anything Harris had said Wednesday night about the dinner.
On Thursday, Harris’ campaign released a two-paragraph statement that differed from her explanation a day earlier. It stated that Harris thought her “campaign would be reimbursing” her share of the meal but later found out that hadn’t happened.
To resolve any questions, the statement said, “I have donated to a local Florida charity $100 which will more than adequately compensate for the cost of my beverage and appetizer.”
The meal was so expensive because Mitchell Wade’s favorite wine happens to be a $1,000 bottle of French bordeaux. Harris clearly should not have let Wade open that wine as Massie Ritsch of the Center for Responsive Politics put it: “Once the Bordeaux is out of the bottle … you can’t put it back.” And finally, the key sentence to take away from the story: “The Department of Justice would not discuss the details of that night.”