Blog — Senate

April 09, 2010

Vitter contributor says he was reimbursed for contribution, which is a violation of federal law

By CREW Staff

The Times-Picayune reported today on the fundraising practices of its home-state Senator David Vitter.  One of Vitter's contributors, Jamal Ogbe, told the paper that he was reimbursed for his contribution to Vitter. That's illegal.

During a West Coast fund-raiser last summer, four officials with a California dry cleaning company and three of their spouses donated $33,000 to Sen. David Vitter's re-election campaign.

The day before, Los Angeles attorney David Golubchik, who provided more than $100,000 in financing for the firm, US Dry Cleaning Corp., gave Vitter's campaign $1,000.

While multiple campaign contributions from executives at the same firm are common in national politics, generally they are made in support of a candidate from the company's home state or for a member with influence over issues important to the firm's bottom line. There are no such obvious links to the Louisiana Republican and the dry cleaning business.

Jamal Ogbe, who was US Dry Cleaning's director of finance at the time of the fund-raiser, said the company was facing financial difficulties in 2009 and hoped that Vitter would help the firm gain access to federal stimulus financing or Small Business Administration Assistance. Ogbe said he was eventually reimbursed by his employer for his $4,800 contribution. Federal campaign finance law prohibits reimbursement for such contributions.

Yes, that is prohibited. CREW has filed FEC complaints for similar practices against candidates, including Rep. Vern Buchanan, and a contributor, Edward St. John.

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