Dems return Nemazee contributions
By: Kenneth P. Vogel – Politico
August 26, 2009
Vice President Joe Biden, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Tuesday evening they plan to return or donate to charity campaign contributions from Democratic financier Hassan Nemazee, who was arrested and charged Tuesday with trying to defraud Citibank of $74 million by offering fake collateral on a loan.
If recent history is any indication, expect more politicians to follow suit as the fallout from the latest disgraced-bundler case ripples through Washington in the coming days.
Nemazee made an impact in Democratic politics as a so-called bundler who rounded up checks from others. But a POLITICO analysis found that since the early 1990s, when he first emerged as a prominent moneyman for the Clinton-Gore presidential campaign, Nemazee also has personally contributed more than $500,000 to dozens of primarily Democratic candidates, committees and causes, ranging from President Obama, Hillary Clinton and Rahm Emanuel to half the members of the U.S. Senate.
Among the biggest beneficiaries were the three national Democratic Party committees.
Nemazee, 59, contributed $113,500 to the Democratic National Committee, $89,200 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and $29,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Federal Election Commission records show.
Nemazee, who lived in New York and primarily made his fortune in investing, also served as national finance chair for the DSCC while Schumer chaired the group during the 2006 election cycle, when the committee raised $121 million (compared to $89 million for its Republican counterpart, the National Republican Senatorial Committee) and helped Democrats take control of the Senate.
The DSCC is considering what to do with Nemazee’s direct contributions, according to a source with knowledge of the group’s fundraising operations.
The moneyman over the years contributed $8,600 to the campaigns of Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), and he served as a regional fundraising leader for Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign.
Nemazee, who contributed $8,300 to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s campaigns for Senate in New York and for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, also was a top bundler for Clinton’s presidential bid, raising at least $100,000 from other donors.
After she conceded the nomination to Obama, Nemazee helped him raise at least $500,000, in addition to contributing $9,200 of his own to a joint committee Obama set up with the DNC.
And when Obama defeated Republican John McCain in the general election, Nemazee contributed another $50,000 to the non-profit corporation Obama set up to pay for his inauguration and the surrounding festivities.
Representatives for Kerry, Obama, Clinton and most other recipients of Nemzee contributions did not immediately respond to questions about their plans for the cash, but expect Republicans to hone in on them.
“For years, Hassan Nemazee has been a major financial contributor to the Democrat Party, including his tenure as the national finance chairman of the DSCC in 2006 and his donations to Harry Reid, Blanche Lincoln, Barbara Boxer, Chuck Schumer, Kirsten Gillibrand, Evan Bayh, and other Senate Democrats,” Rob Jesmer, the NRSC’s executive director, said in a statement.
“Given the serious nature of the charges that Nemazee faces, the Democrats should immediately return any and all of the contributions that they received from this disgraced financier to preserve the integrity of their fundraising efforts in 2010.”
Of course, Nemazee also contributed to a handful of Republicans, including Sens. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas), who reported receiving a $2,000 Nemazee contribution in 2004, and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), who accepted $1,000 for her 2000 campaign, as well as the late Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), who reported contributions totaling $3,500 in the 1990s from Nemazee.
And there’s another difficulty in demanding contributions be returned: Contributions from older campaigns mostly have long since been spent and occasionally the committees themselves have been shuttered, sometimes prompting politicians to make charitable contributions of similar amounts from different campaign committees.
Biden’s spokeswoman, Elizabeth Alexander, explained that Biden couldn’t disgorge the $4,000 Nemazee in 2005 gave to Unite Our States, a leadership political action committee headed by then-Delaware Sen. Biden, nor the $6,100 he contributed to Biden’s Senate campaign committee, Citizens for Biden, from 2000 through 2006.
“Unite Our States no longer exists, and Citizens for Biden is being wound down, and therefore neither entity has funds to issue a refund,” she said, explaining only Biden’s presidential campaign, which reported contributions totaling $2,700 from Nemazee and which is still functioning, would “return the funds or donate the funds to charity.”
Sen. Dodd of Connecticut reported receiving $2,000 in contributions from Nemazee in the mid-1990s. Dodd spokesman Bryan DeAngelis said his boss would donate the contributions to charity.
Paul Blank, spokesman for Maloney (D-N.Y.) said “given the allegations” against Nemazee, his boss would give the $5,500 she accepted in contributions from Nemazee starting in the late 1990s “to a 9/11 charity.”
Boxer will give the $3,000 she got from Nemazee to a charity, likely in California, said her campaign manager Rose Kapolczynski.
And Schumer, who over the years has received $6,000 in contributions from Nemazee, will give the cash to a foreclosure prevention program run by the nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Service.