Pryor, Lincoln cleanup | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pryor, Lincoln cleanup

Posted By on Tue, Sep 1, 2009 at 4:30 PM

Paul Barton reports from Washington:

Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor have both taken steps in recent days to wash their hands of past campaign contributions from Hassan Nemazee, the prominent Democratic fund-raiser accused of bank fraud last week. They've donated to charities amounts equivalent to contributions they received.

The Justice Department accused Nemazee of trying to defraud Citibank of $74 million.

Lincoln and Pryor both received $3,000 from Nemazee and his family. The contributions were for Lincoln’s Senate races in 1998 and 2004 and Pryor’s in 2002 and 2008.  The family is not listed as contributing to Lincoln’s 2010 race.

Spokesman for both senators said Tuesday they have donated to Arkansas charities – Lincoln $2,000 to the Arkansas Food Alliance, benefitting eight food banks statewide; Pryor to the Jacksonville Museum of Military History for the Wounded Warrior Project. Lincoln’s office did not mention at first whether she off also offset an additional $1,000 contribution from Sheila Nemazee,  “homemaker,” received in 1997.

But Steve Patterson, Lincoln’s campaign director, called back to say she would refund that also. “She doesn’t want any of that money,” he said.

Patterson also said in a statement to the Arkansas Times: “Senator Lincoln believes that the charges against Mr. Nemazee are extremely serious and indicative of some of the irresponsible and sometimes unlawful activities that pervaded Wall Street during the last decade [and] put at risk the financial security of millions of innocent American families and small business owners.”

He added that Lincoln wanted to make the donation despite having “no recollection of meeting Mr. Nemazee and his contributions to past campaigns have already been utilized.”

The Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan campaign finance research organization, reported that Lincoln and Pryor were among 75 federal candidates and office holders that Nemazee or his family members – through a practice known as “family bundling” - had contributed to over the past 15 years. In addition, there were contributions of $247,000 to the Democratic National Committee, $170,200 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, $55,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and $2,500 to the Democratic Party of New Hampshire and $40,000 to the Iranian-American Political Action Committee. In all, the contributions from the family totaled $859,700.

Others receiving contributions from him included former senator and now Vice President Joe Biden, former Democratic senator and now secretary of state Hillary Clinton and former Democratic Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, who died last week. Democratic senators Harry Reid of Nevada, Charles Schumer of New York, John Kerry of Massachusetts and  Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, plus Republican Sam Brownback of Kansas are among a long list of other senators who have received money from Nemazee or his family.

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