8 Pioneers and Rangers face wide range of allegations
Tom Noe is not the only top Bush fund-raiser under criminal investigation this
year. He shares that distinction with seven others.
Federal and state authorities are investigating the Bush Pioneers and Rangers,
individuals who raised at least $100,000 or $200,000 for President Bush's re-election,
for bribery, money laundering, stock manipulation, and extortion.
Democrats have said that as investigations continue, there will be "enough
[convictions] for their own prison softball team."
"The Republican culture of corruption, it knows no bounds. It's a deterioration
of values." said Amaya Smith, a spokesman for the Democratic National Committee.
In Ohio, investigators have dug into the finances of two Bush Pioneers - Mr.
Noe and Larry Householder, the former speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives,
who is under grand jury scrutiny for the alleged skimming of campaign funds.
Mr. Noe was indicted in October by a federal grand jury in Toledo on charges
of laundering donations to Mr. Bush's re-election campaign. State officials
have accused the former Toledo-area coin dealer of stealing $4 million from
the rare-coin investment he managed for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation.
Nationwide, other Bush fund-raisers are at the center of scandals involving
the government, prominent corporations, and the public's trust.
On Thursday, a federal jury found James Tobin, a Maine political consultant,
guilty of jamming the Democrats' phone lines in New Hampshire three years ago.
He could serve five years in jail and pay a $250,000 fine.
A federal grand jury in Florida indicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff in August on
conspiracy and wire fraud charges in the purchase of gambling boats, whose former
owner was later murdered. Mr. Abramoff continues to be under suspicion for his
lobbying actions on behalf of a slew of Indian casinos.
Investment banker P. Nicholas Hurtgen was federally indicted in May in a hospital
construction extortion scam. A former aide to Tommy Thompson, the Wisconsin
governor who later became a Bush cabinet member, Mr. Hurtgen faces a maximum
of 80 years in jail and a $1 million fine if convicted on all charges.
"Co-conspirator No. 1" in the November plea agreement by U.S. Rep.
Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R., Calif.) is defense consultant Brent Wilkes,
according to Mr. Wilkes' lawyer. Accused of bribing the congressman with $635,000,
Mr. Wilkes also was subpoenaed by Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle in connection
with the money laundering charges leveled against former House Majority Leader
Tom Delay (R., Texas).
Billionaire Maurice "Hank" Greenberg was ousted in March from AIG,
the Shanghai property insurance company he built into a revered powerhouse because
of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into his alleged
stock manipulation. Also, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has filed
suit against Mr. Greenberg detailing a history of misdeeds.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in November that the FBI is investigating
Manuel Stamatakis, a management consultant who once chaired the region's port
authority. A grand jury has convened to examine the suspect insurance contracts
Mr. Stamatakis negotiated as the agency's chairman.
Despite these scandals, Ms. Smith said that Democrats plan to focus on their
"own positive message" in 2006 elections.
"Republicans are going to have to deal with their own issues," she
said. "We can't deal with those issues for them."
Contact Joshua Boak at: firstname.lastname@example.org or
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