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Madoff money -- Why is a Democratic committee clinging to it?

Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff

Bernard Madoff, who stands convicted of fraud in a $50-billion Ponzi scheme that bilked thousands of investors, ruined lives and closed down charities, was a big giver to Democratic causes.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Madoff and his wife Ruth gave $238,200 to federal candidates, parties and committees in the years since 1991, with Democrats getting 88% of their donations. Overall, Madoff and other individuals at his company, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, donated $372,100 in campaign contributions over the same period, with 89% going to Democrats.

Most Democrats who discovered they had Madoff money in their coffers rushed to give it away.

Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) gave the $29,300 he got from the Madoffs to the victims of Madoff´s fraud. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) donated his $13,000 Madoff money to an Oregon food bank. And Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) donated his $1,500 from the Madoffs to the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity. (Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor, was one of Madoff's victims.)

But so far, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has yet to divest itself of $100,000 in  Madoff money -- including one contribution for $25,000 received last September. "We have not returned the money yet," DSCC communications director Eric Schultz told the Washington Times.

Now pundits are piling on, charging that the organization, which raises campaign funds to help keep the Senate in Democratic hands, is "shockingly tone-deaf" and that the mainstream media are ignoring the outrage for political reasons. The Hill's Doug Heye suggested this morning that maybe the media -- which loudly exposed campaign contributions from disgraced Enron executives to Republican politicians -- find less news in a tainted Madoff donation to Democratic causes.

During the Enron scandal, returning campaign money was a daily drumbeat, as were the news stories discussing Enron’s purported ties to President Bush. Now, when the Democratic Senate campaign vehicle makes the conscious decision to keep $100K in Madoff money, stolen just as if it came from a bank holdup, there's little to no outrage. Why?

Here's a suggestion for members of the media: Ask Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), who himself was robbed by Madoff, what he thinks of the DSCC keeping stolen money in order to help fund his colleagues’ Senate campaigns this election cycle.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Photo: Bernard Madoff.  Credit: Jay Mallin / Bloomberg News

Comments () | Archives (3)

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Madoff is the symbol of democrat liberalism.Schumer,Dodd and even Lautenberg share the same philosophy of immoral permissiveness.remember Milken and
Rich pardonned by B.Clinton and AG Holder,they were also giving huge money to the venal democrat intellegentsia.Democrat leadership is either as corrupt as Madoff or as naive and stupid as Carter.

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Schumer had many meals with Bernie and now he is have "Heart Burn" from all the "cash" he eat. Well I am sure he will make it up, he is a fast eater and there are many more meals to go before 2010

VJ Machiavelli

I think that situation would go striaght to the supreme court. A lot of politicans can get in trouble for this and even voted out of position if found out becaue this is illeagl. Hopefully in court the judgement can be enforced by the other branches so that a law can be put into effect so that this doesn't happen again. But if politicans do not come forward he can get off by pleading the fifth amendenment because to incrimanate yourself goes against your fifth amdenment. He has also been taken advanatge of his rights because of privacy invasion.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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