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  • Monday, February 27, 2006

    KATHERINE HARRIS: Corruption in Florida

    The latest in the long litany of corrupt Republicans is none other than the woman who stole 2000 for the Bush family and condemned America to the lousy leadership we currently have: Katherine Harris, former Florida Secretary of State, Congressional Rep. From FL-13, and current candidate for Senate. In addition to being at the center of the 2000 political fiasco, Katherine Harris is also caught up in the same Republican corruption that has brought down Randy Cunningham (R-CA) and Tom DeLay (R-TX) and which is threatening to bring down Bob Ney (R-OH).

    As reported in the Washington Post:

    Washington defense contractor Mitchell J. Wade admitted yesterday in federal court that he attempted to illegally influence Defense Department contracting officials and tried to curry favor with two House members, in addition to lavishing more than $1 million in cash, cars, a boat, antiques and other bribes on convicted Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.).

    The new admissions, including details that identify Reps. Virgil H. Goode Jr. (R-Va.) and Katherine Harris (R-Fla.) as recipients of illegal campaign contributions, are contained in Wade's agreement to plead guilty to four criminal charges stemming from his role in the Cunningham probe. The congressman resigned after pleading guilty in November to taking $2.4 million in bribes from Wade and others in return for steering federal funds and contracts their way…

    The member identifiable as Harris received $32,000 in illegal donations from Wade and his employees in 2004. Documents filed with Wade's plea say that he took Harris to dinner early last year, where they discussed the possibility of another fundraiser and the possibility of getting funding for a Navy counterintelligence program in the member's district. One source familiar with the inquiry said Harris made such a request for funding, but it was not granted.


    Will Katherine Harris follow Randy Cunningham’s lead and resign? Probably not. Needless to say, Jan Schneider, the once and future Democratic candidate for Harris’ FL-13 seat , is jumping on Harris’ corruption and making the Republican culture of corruption a focal point of her campaign. And rightly so! Democrats have to a.) distinguish themselves from the corruption of the Republicans, and b.) make Republican corruption a major issue in 2006.

    From Jan Schneider’s campaign:

    Overall, according to FEC records, in the 2004 election cycle, Harris appears to have received $50,000 from MZM. This includes $10,000 from the MZM PAC and an additional $40,000 from MZM employees (with 14 checks for $2,000 each written the same day, March 23, 2004). The employees later claimed that their individual contributions were coerced, but Harris declined to return them.

    But the corruption tainting the Harris race against Schneider runs far deeper. In 2004, Harris imported three members of Congress to assist in her campaigning and fundraising against Schneider: former Congressman Randy ("Duke") Cunningham, former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and suspect Congressman Bob Ney. The efforts of these individuals met with considerable success and were instrumental in helping her accumulate the $3.5 million warchest Harris spent against Schneider.

    1. Duke Cunningham. With great fanfare, Cunningham (R-CA) came to Sarasota to lend his name and prestige to Harris in a veterans' forum. Congressman Cunningham resigned after pleading guilty to fraud, conspiracy to commit bribery and tax evasion. In the charges against Cunningham, the man identified as "Co-conspirator #2" is none other than former defense contractor Wade.

    As already mentioned, in last the 2003-04 election cycle, Harris received $50,000 from MZM-related sources. Cunningham's own PAC kicked in another $1,000, bringing the total to $51,000.

    2. Tom DeLay. When Majority Leader DeLay (R-TX) was indicted on charges of violating election laws on September 28, 2005, Congresswoman Harris lost another key political ally. Harris was the keynote speaker at the 2002 fundraiser that is central to the charges, and that same day received a $1000 campaign contribution from the Executive Director of the sponsoring TRMPAC. Shortly thereafter Delay came to Sarasota for a fundraiser for Harris.

    In addition to the Delay fundraising help and $1,000 from the TRMPAC executive, Harris also received $20,000 from Americans for a Republican Majority. AMRPAC, another political action committee created by DeLay, gave Harris $10,000 for each of her 2002 and 2004 Congressional campaigns.

    3. Bob Ney...The third member of the trio, Ney (R-OH), also traveled to Florida, in September 2004, to support Harris. Ney has himself been scandal-ridden in recent months, including being embroiled in DeLay legal battles.

    On November 21, 2005, Michael Scanlon, a Washington lobbyist and former aide to Delay, pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit bribery. Court papers say he and another lobbyist, believed to be Jack Abramoff, bribed a number of public officials, including one identified as "Representative No. 1." Ney has admitted that this reference is to him. While Ney is still under investigation and has not yet been indicted, it is already clear that he received numerous favors from the Abramoff connection (including campaign contributions, lavish dinners at a restaurant owned by the lobbyist and a golfing trip to Scotland).


    Either Katherine Harris is a dumb pawn in the Republican game of looting America, or she is as corrupt as the already indicted DeLay and Cunningham.

    For more information on Tom DeLay’s corruption, click here and here.

    For more information on Randy Cunningham’s corruption, click here.

    For more information on Bob Ney’s corruption (as well as the corruption of Ohio’s Republican party in general), click here.

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