Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Two Years and Four Convictions Later Doyle Still Holding Troha Contributions

Governor Jim Doyle has yet to return any of the more than $100,000 federal prosecutors say was contributed to his campaign in a conspiracy that has seen three businessmen and a county executive convicted and sentenced for giving or getting bribes in connection with landing a proposed Indian casino in Kenosha.

The ringleader, Dennis Troha, was indicted nearly two years ago on charges he funneled nearly $250,000 in corporate funds through family members and business acquaintances to the campaigns of more than 20 state and federal politicians and the Democratic and Republican parties.

Troha got six months probation, his business associates Achille Infusino and John Erickson each got 18 months probation and former Kenosha County Executive Allan Kehl was sentenced to two years in prison.

After Troha was charged in early March 2007, Doyle said, “My campaign was aware of nothing to suggest that the contributions received from Mr. Troha were in any way inappropriate or unlawful.” And later when prosecutors agreed to drop the charge involving laundered Troha family contributions to Doyle as part of a plea bargain, a campaign spokesman said Doyle wouldn’t return any Troha contributions.

Hanging your hat on one charge being dropped in a plea deal is pretty flimsy cover. Federal investigators found the contributions were made with corporate funds, which is illegal, and on behalf of Troha by others, which is also illegal.

Republican U.S. Representative Paul Ryan and Democratic U.S. Representative Jim Oberstar of Minnesota either returned or gave to charity more than $78,000 of Troha-related contributions well before Troha or any of his cohorts were even convicted.

Doyle’s resistance to giving back the Troha conspiracy contributions is curious given other contributions he has returned to donors in the past.

In May 2006 Doyle returned $10,000 to 10 New York lawyers whose firm and two partners were federally indicted. He also returned a $5,000 contribution from an Illinois businessman in 2005 after he found out the contribution was made at the time the state was negotiating an out-of-court settlement involving complaints about the donor’s business practices.

Doyle also returned a 2003 contribution in 2006 from a former associate of a convicted Washington D.C. lobbyist even though the donor was never charged with any wrongdoing. At the time, a Doyle campaign spokesman said the cash was returned because the lobbyist’s actions were “so out of whack.”

Sounds like a good description of Doyle’s standard for returning questionable campaign contributions.

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