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One Florida donor gets plum job; another fined

By DAVID DAHL

© St. Petersburg Times, published July 21, 1998


WASHINGTON -- In the span of a few hours Monday, the high-stakes game of political fund raising sullied the reputation of one Democratic Party money man from Florida and rewarded another.

The defeat came Monday afternoon at the U.S. District Courthouse, where South Florida fund-raiser Howard Glicken pleaded guilty to soliciting an illegal $20,000 donation from a foreigner. Glicken is offering "substantial assistance" to federal prosecutors investigating irregularities in campaign fund raising.

Two hours after Glicken's appearance in court, Miami businessman Paul L. Cejas was sworn in as U.S. ambassador to Belgium at a State Department ceremony attended by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. A former member of the Florida Board of Regents, Cejas and his company have given $235,000 to Democratic Party causes since 1995.

"These are two perfect illustrations of how the campaign finance system works," said campaign finance reform advocate Ellen Miller, executive director of a group called Public Campaign. "If you follow the rules and keep your head down, you can be appointed ambassador. But if you step on or break the rules, you can go to jail."

Glicken and Cejas are among a corps of Florida Democratic Party fund-raisers who have helped make the state one of the leading sources for political money, frequently drawing Clinton and Vice President Al Gore to Miami and other Florida locales to dine with generous contributors. Often they leave the state having won commitments for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In return, the rewards run from bad to good. Some donors get plum spots in the administration. Others get flights on Air Force One or invitations to sleep over at the White House. Still others get only humiliation at the hands of Senate Republicans and investigators examining fund-raising irregularities.

A seating chart from one of Clinton's Democratic Party fund-raisers in the mid-1990s offers one picture of the ironies of fund raising. At Clinton's table were Glicken and Florida fund-raiser Marvin Rosen, who has since been implicated in raising thousands of dollars in foreign donations from the same contributor as in Glicken's case.

But also seated with the president that day was South Florida fund-raiser Mitchell Berger, who is now expected to be nominated to chair the Student Loan Marketing Association.

Berger and Cejas are among those Floridians who have emerged untarnished from the job of raising money. Others include Daytona Beach fund-raiser William Crotty, nominated earlier this year to be ambassador to Barbados and several other Caribbean nations, and former Florida Democratic Party chairman Simon Ferro, picked to be ambassador to Panama.

Other Floridians have had a tougher time of it. Miami lawyer and sometime Clinton golf partner Charles "Bud" Stack was forced to withdraw his nomination to a federal appeals court judgeship in 1996 after Senate Republicans decided he had virtually no qualifications for the lifetime post.

Then there is Glicken. Hours before Cejas was sworn in as ambassador in the mauve-colored Ben Franklin room of the State Department, Glicken glumly pleaded guilty to two criminal counts of violating federal elections law at the courthouse several blocks away.

He admitted soliciting a $20,000 donation from a foreign national for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee in 1993. Glicken knew the donor was prohibited from donating to U.S. campaigns, so he suggested German real estate tycoon Thomas Kramer make the donation in the name of Kramer's secretary, federal records show.

Glicken, 54, agreed to pay up to $120,000 in civil and criminal fines, serve up to 500 hours' community service and cooperate with the Justice Department's investigation. The plea agreement says Glicken "has expressed a desire to provide substantial assistance to the government in the investigation and prosecution of others after entering his guilty plea."

It was quite a fall for a man who played golf with Clinton, slept over at the White House and has been a stalwart fund-raiser for Gore since the 1980s. A onetime head of a chain of billiard halls, Glicken went on to become a consultant for foreign clients.

He is one of eight people charged so far by the Justice Department's campaign task force, which has been criticized for going after only low-level donors. For some, the investigations by the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission have cost thousands of dollars -- and may not yet be over.

Marvin Rosen's well-connected Greenberg, Traurig law firm in Miami, for instance, had to pay a $77,000 fine for soliciting a total of $91,000 from Kramer, the German real estate man, in 1994. Rosen also has been questioned by congressional investigators about his role as the Democrats' national finance chairman in the 1996 campaign.

Separately, the attorney for Miami donor Mark Jimenez says he has been contacted by investigators for the Justice Department and Congress. Jimenez, his Future Tech International and his employees donated at least $600,000 to Clinton, Democratic causes and other related groups.

"We have been in contact with lots of people, including congressional staff and Department of Justice officials," Jimenez attorney Abbe Lowell said Monday. "Everybody has been scrutinized, including him."


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