Katherine Harris says Nelson took illegal money and kept it by Mitch E. Perry07/07/06
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that Katherine Harris is accusing her chief Senate opponent, Bill Nelson, of accepting illegal campaign contributions.
Speaking at the Kissimmee Bay Country Club yesterday, Harris was asked by an audience member about illegal contributions made to HER campaign by defense contractor Mitchell Wade of the group MZM. Harris said that she had not known the $32,000 donation was illegal and she has since donated the money to charity.
But she then followed up that comment by saying Nelson had made a similar mistake.
The Sentinel quotes Harris as saying, "That actually happened in the past, and it happened to Bill Nelson,". "The difference is that when I did find out, I donated that money to charity. . . . He received some $80,000 the same way and he never did reimburse. So there is a little bit of difference, and I'm happy to draw attention to that."
She never identified the money to which she was referring.
But today Harris campaign spokesman, Chris Engram, said she was referring to illegal campaign contributions received from the Riskcorp Corporation â€“ a Sarasota Insurance Company - back in the 1990â€™s. (roll tape#1 o.q.â€?around $80,000â€?)
Nelson was one of 27 candidates in Florida who received illegal campaign contributions From Riskorp. So did then state Senate candidate Katherine Harris. But Harris campaign spokesman Chris Engram says , the difference was, she gave the money back (roll tape#2 o.q. â€œnever did return any of that moneyâ€?)
WMNF contacted a spokesman for Senator Nelson. He said he would call us back. He didnâ€™t.
The St. Petersburg Times reported back in 1997 that when Nelson was appraised about the tainted contributions, he said it was too late for him to refund the $62,000 he got from Riscorp. A spokesman said Nelson has even considered writing a personal check, but since election accounts have been long closed, there would be no place to send it.
In a poll conducted by Quinnipiac University last month, likely voters chose Nelson over Harris by a 2-to-1 ratio if the election were held now.
Last month, a spokesman for Nelson, Dan McLaughlin, accused Harris of being a â€œbribe takerâ€?.