The New York Times has a front-page story today on a political giver named James Robert Williams, who has no visible means of support, but is very generous to both parties and to politicians of different stripes. From the article:
…one government watchdog group called the pattern of donations extremely troubling. Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center, said, “In more than 15 years of investigating political corruption, I’ve never seen a more suspicious set of facts.”
According to the story by reporters Raymond Hernandez, Alison Leigh Cowan and Jo Craven McGinty, Williams lives in a small apartment in a scrubby section of Jamaica, Queens where the average household income is $33,800 and many residents receive government assistance.” The reporters state the obvious that it is “hard to say where the big sums are coming from.”
The recipients include Democrats like Rep. Charles Rangel (NY) and Republicans like Senator John McCain.
Of course, the suggestion is that Williams is fronting for a more well heeled donor who does not want his or her donations to be publicly known. This maneuver has been tried many times in past years, but it is fraught with peril. It is a crime to make donations in the name of another to candidates for federal offices. While most campaign finance violations result in no penalty or a slap on the wrist, making donations in the name of another is the one offense that has prompted successful prosecutions over the years.
Hopefully, the New York Times story will spark an investigation to solve this mystery.