Defense contractor Mitchell J. Wade pled guilty yesterday to election law fraud, among other charges for making illegal campaign contributions, including $32,000 in illegal contribution to Rep. Katherine Harris (R-FL).
Katherine Harris claims she had no idea there was anything amiss when she received the contributions. In a statement she said the incident “demonstrates the perils of a process in which candidates are sometimes asked to determine the intent of a contributor.”
Her story isn’t very credible, for three reasons —
1. The illegal donations arrived on the same day. Had various employees of MZM independently decided to donate money to Harris there wouldn’t have been any problem. The donations were illegal because they were coordinated by Mitchell Wade, who reimbursed his employees. Seven MZM employees sent 28K in donation on the same day, March 23, 2004. (Mitchell’s wife, Christiane sent 4K a week later.) It’s theoretically possible that all seven employees just happened to independently send maximum contributions to the same candidate on the same day, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize they were coordinated.
2. MZM was Harris’ largest campaign contributor by far. Money from MZM employees and PAC was the top source of cash for Harris’ campaign by a more than 2-to-1 margin. This makes it virtually impossible that she wasn’t aware of the suspiciously timed transaction. Here’s a chart of her top contributors from Open Secrets:
3. Wade told Harris his intentions. He took Harris out to lunch and told her MZM wanted an earmark for a defense project. According to the Washington Post, Harris asked for it but wasn’t able to get it. Harris knew exactly what Wade expected in return for the cash and did what she could to get for him.
Perhaps Harris is completely innocent. The available evidence, however, doesn’t support that conclusion.