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Tag Archive: Katherine Harris

The Bordeaux Is Out of the Bottle:

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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."

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In Other News:

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Rep. Katherine Harris’ (R-FL) run for the US Senate is in danger of being torpedoed, according to the New York Times, after it was revealed in a plea agreement that defense contractor Mitchell Wade gave Harris’ campaign illegal donations totaling $32,000 and later asked for her help in securing a government contract. … The government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) “could draw scrutiny from the IRS” which is “launching enhanced education and enforcement efforts, based on the findings and analysis of the 2004 election cycle,” according to The Hill. CREW claims, “There is clearly a pattern of attempting to intimidate organizations that criticize Republican members of Congress. … Frankly, it won’t work. We will not be bullied into silence.” … Meanwhile CREW is filing a complaint with the IRS stating that the activities of Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform Foundation “may violate IRS regulations and require a revocation of their tax-exempt status.” … The Toledo Blade reports that Ohio GOP fundraiser and coin collector Tom Noe will stand trial on political money laundering charges on July 24th. … Roll Call reports that in the post-Abramoff atmosphere lobbyists are “going back to class” to brush up on their ethics. American League of Lobbyists President Paul Miller provides this priceless story, “When he told his mother 10 years ago that he was going into ‘government relations,’ she said, ‘Oh, you’re the guy who takes the bags of money to Members of Congress!’”

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Contractor Used ‘Straw’ Donors to Contribute to Lawmakers:

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A defense contractor’s use of ‘straw’ donors for political contributions has “raised new questions” about two lawmakers, Rep. Virgil Goode (R-VA) and Rep. Katharine Harris (R-FL), and “the tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions he steered to the two GOP lawmakers.” According to Roll Call, Mitchell Wade, guilty of bribing former Rep. Duke Cunningham and violating federal election laws, “funneled $78,000 in illegal campaign donations from 2003 to 2005 to Goode and Harris through 39 “straw” donors, all of whom were MZM employees or their spouses.” The Justice Department document states that neither Harris nor Goode knew that the contributions were illegal and both have denied wrongdoing. However, Goode, a recipient of $90,000 from Wade and MZM, wrote an earmark that secured “$3.6 million in federal defense funds that went to MZM for a facility in Martinsville, Va., and he was also instrumental in securing $500,000 in state grants to purchase the site.”

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