02/11/98- Updated 06:33 PM ET|
Democratic fund-raiser's law firm fined
WASHINGTON - The Federal Election Commission has fined the law firm of Democratic fund-raiser Marvin Rosen $77,000 for soliciting contributions from a foreigner, who could not legally give to political campaigns.
At the same time, the FEC's general counsel found "reason to believe" that another top Democratic fund-raiser sought additional contributions from the foreign citizen.
Rosen's law firm - Greenberg, Traurig, Hoffman, Lipoff, Rosen & Quentel - solicited $91,000 in campaign contributions from Thomas Kramer, a German real estate developer who was being represented by the firm on immigration matters. The firm represents clients before federal, state and local authorities.
The FEC last year fined Kramer a record $323,000 for making $418,600 in illegal campaign contributions to federal, state and local political parties and candidates in 1993 and 1994.
The law firm's managing partner, Cesar Alvarez, said the lawyers who asked Kramer for money were not handling his immigration case and did not know he was not an American citizen. He said it cost less to settle the case than to fight the FEC.
"All they have to show is a contribution was solicited and it was a foreign national," Alvarez said. "It doesn't matter that we did not know he was a foreign national."
The issue predates the current furor over foreign contributions to President Clinton's 1996 re-election campaign, the subject of a Justice Department investigation and Senate and House committee probes. Rosen was Democratic National Committee finance chairman during the Clinton campaign.
While voting to fine the law firm, the FEC decided not to pursue a case against Miami business executive Howard Glicken, who has raised millions of dollars for the party and is expected to play a role in Vice President Al Gore's future presidential campaign. Glicken, who raised money for Gore's unsuccessful 1988 presidential run, is a close friend of the vice president and has played golf with Clinton. He has been an overnight guest at the White House and has attended Gore-hosted coffees.
The commission's lawyers said they expected Glicken to challenge their findings in court, and they could not complete a full investigation by the time the statute of limitations expired.
Glicken was out of the country and did not return phone calls to his home or office.
"Nothing in the DNC's records is inconsistent with the general counsel's findings about who solicited the contributions," DNC spokesman Steve Langdon said.
Overall, Kramer contributed $125,000 to the DNC and $23,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
"We have never knowingly solicited any illegal contributions or illegal foreign contributions," said Michael Tucker, a spokesman for the senatorial committee.
Kramer had told the FEC that he received a suggestion to make a $20,000 contribution to the senatorial committee in the name of his secretary, Terri Bradley. Neither Kramer nor Bradley identified the person involved.
FEC Counsel Lawrence Noble told the commission that the "available evidence" suggested Glicken brought in four contributions from Kramer to the Democrats. But since Glicken likely would contest the FEC's findings, the agency would have to conduct a full investigation and would not have time to complete it before the statute of limitations expired, Noble said.
Paul Hendrie, managing editor for the Center for Responsive Politics, which studies the relationship between money and campaigns, questioned Noble's recommendation to drop the case against Glicken because he was expected to challenge the agency's findings.
"The message that seems to send is the FEC is only willing to go after someone who is willing to cave in," Hendrie said.
By The Associated Press
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