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FBI’s corruption case snitch politically connected by money August 4, 2009

Posted by Daniel Downs in campaign finance, crime, Democrats, FBI, news, politics.

Before he helped the government snare dozens of New Jersey public officials by offering bribes, the FBI’s informant in a corruption case was a prolific on-the-books campaign donor, giving roughly $190,000 to high-level candidates over an eight-year span.

None of the 30 or so politicians who received legal campaign donations from Solomon Dwek have been implicated in the scandal. Forty-four people, mostly Democrats, were arrested last week, including three mayors, two state assemblymen, five rabbis and many other public officials.

But many recipients are rushing to give the money to charity as they look to distance themselves from Dwek and the state’s culture of corruption.

“When you’ve taken money from somebody in involved in a scandal, you give it back as fast as you can,” said Peter Woolley, a political science professor and pollster at Fairleigh Dickinson-Public Mind. “In the public’s mind, giving money and influencing politicians is one in the same thing.”

Dwek and his wife, Pearl, donated to candidates at all levels of government — a sign of just how politically connected the former real estate developer was.

Dwek’s legal donations began in 1998, according to state and federal campaign finance records, and stopped just weeks before his April 2006 arrest for federal bank fraud. That crime put him under the FBI’s thumb and led to his undercover work offering money to dozens of public officials and politicians in exchange for their influence.

According to campaign finance records, recipients of his legitimate donations include a county officials, state assemblymen and senators, congressmen and two former gubernatorial candidates, and even a U.S. president. They do not include current Gov. Jon Corzine, however.

Among the biggest beneficiaries was Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone, who received $10,900 from Dwek and his wife, Pearl, from 1999 to 2005. The couple gave Pallone’s political action committee an additional $5,000 in 2005.

Other Democratic recipients include U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, Congressmen Rush Holt, former New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli, and former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt.

Republicans recipients were state Sens. Tom Kean, Jr. and Joseph Kyrillos, 2005 GOP gubernatorial candidate Doug Forrester, former Congressmen Bob Franks and Dick Zimmer, Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter — who became a Democrat earlier this year — and even President George W. Bush.

The Dweks’ donations favored Republicans at the state level and Democrats at the federal level.

Excerpts from AP Report published by Transparency International, Jully 31, 2009.



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