Thursday, January 18, 2007

Spitzer returns extra cash Donor's fund-raiser money exceeded limit on contributions by individuals under state law

Albany TimesUnion.Com JAMES M. ODATO

Another example of Spitzer doing the right thing here and why campaign finance reform really needs to be kicked up a notch...it just doesn't look good.......andy






"ALBANY -- Gov. Eliot Spitzer's campaign returned $110,000 in excess donations from casino developer Richard Fields, almost all of it for jet flights and other costs tied to a lavish fund-raiser in Wyoming last summer, a new campaign filing shows.
Spitzer sent Fields' companies, Coastal Development LLC and SG Management, the money for catering, security, travel, jets and hotels paid for by Fields when he threw the bash for the former attorney general when he was seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.
Christine Anderson, a spokeswoman for Spitzer, said the money is being sent because calculations showed Fields' companies exceeded the $50,100 limit on individual donations allowed under state law.
Howard Wolfson, Fields' representative, said "the contributions were made inadvertently over the limit."
Fields' lawyer, Edward Wallace, said the money going to his client appears in the payment and expenditure section of Spitzer's filing because it is not a refund.
"It was a payment to avoid excess donations," Wallace said.
Fields is a leader in Excelsior Racing Associates, which was selected by a state panel last fall as the preferred bidder for the state racing franchise. He also is working with the Wisconsin Oneida tribe on a proposal to build a casino in the Catskills.
On July 18, he threw a fund-raiser for Spitzer at his Jackson Hole, Wyo., home. Fields' companies donated $200,000 to Spitzer just before the event.
But in-kind services and cash provided after the event apparently exceeded legal limits.
Anderson said the campaign reimbursed $52,579 to SG Management for catering, wine, a tent, a band and other costs for the Wyoming event.
It sent another $51,292 to Coastal Development for transportation costs -- a jet to New York City to pick up Silda Wall Spitzer, the governor's wife, and fly her to Jackson Hole, and a second jet to fly Spitzer from Seattle to Wyoming. Fields also provided a jet to fly the couple back to LaGuardia together the day after the fund-raiser.
Anderson said the costs are for everything associated with the private jet use in July -- from pilots to peanuts -- taking into account a policy adopted by Spitzer's campaign after revelations that Fields provided a jet to Spitzer for a three-city fundraiser in May. The campaign paid $4,300 for those May trips, the equivalent of first-class fares.
The campaign also recently reimbursed Fields' Coastal Protective Services $1,491 for security personnel for the party and $4,610 to Coastal Development for a car, a dinner reception and hotel, the new campaign filing shows.
During the campaign, Republican John Faso sharply criticized the donations Spitzer accepted from Fields, who is the developer of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Florida."

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