The bundle of $2,300 and $4,600 checks that poured into Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign on March 12 came from an unlikely group of California donors: a mechanic from D&D Auto Repair in Whittier, the manager of Rite Aid Pharmacy No. 5727, the 30-something owners of the Twilight Hookah Lounge in Fullerton.From p. 24 of How the Good Guys Finally Won, Jimmy Breslin's excellent book on Watergate:
Harry Sargeant III, a former naval officer and the owner of an oil-trading company that recently inked defense contracts potentially worth more than $1 billion, is the archetype of a modern presidential money man. The law forbids high-level supporters from writing huge checks, but with help from friends in the Middle East and the former chief of the CIA's bin Laden unit -- who now serves as a consultant to his company -- Sargeant has raised more than $100,000 for three presidential candidates from a collection of ordinary people, several of whom professed little interest in the outcome of the election.After initially helping to raise money for former New York mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, a Republican, and Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Sargeant, 50, has emerged as a major player in Florida fundraising for McCain.
The 2008 presidential campaign, which could see each side spend close to $500 million, has heightened the importance of "bundlers" such as Sargeant, who not only write checks themselves but also recruit scores of other donors to give the legal limit of $2,300. Questions about such donor networks have repeatedly emerged as points of stress for the campaigns.
In January, Norman Hsu, a top Clinton bundler, was indicted in part on charges of circumventing legal giving limits by routing contributions though "straw donors." Earlier this week, McCain drew questions about more than $60,000 in donations that were made this year to the Republican National Committee and his campaign by an office manager with the Hess oil company and her husband, an Amtrak track foreman. In that case, the couple said they used their own money.
Some of the most prolific givers in Sargeant's network live in modest homes in Southern California's Inland Empire. Most had never given a political contribution before being contacted by Sargeant or his associates. Most said they have never voiced much interest in politics. And in several instances, they had never registered to vote. And yet, records show, some families have ponied up as much as $18,400 for various candidates between December and March.
Both Sargeant and the donors were vague when asked to explain how Sargeant persuaded them to give away so much money.
[A]t the start of 1973, instead of having such a smashing year with the Kalmbachs blocking for him, Steinbrenner wound up being tackled by James Polk of The Washington Star-News. Polk is first class. He spoke to Steinbrenner about the campaign contributions made by American Shipbuilding employees. Steinbrenner told Polk a story which Polk did not believe. Polk then went to American Shipbuilding employees. He found an accountant who earned $16,000 in salary had contributed $3000 to Dedicated Americans for Good Government and another $3000 to Dedicated Volunteers for a Better America. The accountant said they were personal contributions, not corporate contributions which of course were illegal. Polk learned that the employee had made out the campaign checks at the same time he had received a surprise bonus of $6000 from American Shipbuilding. Oh, no, the employee said. His contributions had been out of patriotism. Polk printed the stories. He also called the situation to the attention of the Watergate Special Prosecutor's office at the time it was established. The Special Prosecutor's office sent FBI agents out to interview Steinbrenner and his employees.The more things change...
"Don't worry about it," John H. Melcher, Jr., American Shipbuilding counsel, told the employees. He, Steinbrenner, and the employees told the same story to the FBI that they had told to Polk. Subpoenas then were issued to the employees, calling them before a grand jury. "Don't worry," Melcher told them again. This time they did worry. "He would be saying 'don't worry' to me the day I got put behind bars for perjury," one of them said.