Cantwell to donate funds tied to Abramoff
The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., responded to the growing scandal involving lobbyist Jack Abramoff by announcing Friday that she will donate more than $17,000 in campaign contributions to an American Indian charity.
Cantwell, who is seeking re-election this year, had said Wednesday she would not return contributions from out-of-state Indian tribes represented by Abramoff, who pleaded guilty this week to fraud, conspiracy and tax evasion in a wide-ranging political corruption investigation.
But Cantwell's campaign said Friday she had decided to give money to the National Congress of American Indians Education Fund to clear up any confusion caused by media reports about donations related to Abramoff.
Cantwell wanted "to err on the side of caution, so there would not even be a whiff of a connection between his illegal, confessed activities and our campaign," spokesman Michael Meehan said Friday.
The amount being returned, $17,865, includes any funds from organizations or individuals that have ever been connected to Abramoff based on media reports, Meehan said.
Because Abramoff confessed to such a massive fraud, Cantwell decided to cast a wide net in deciding whether to donate a contribution to charity, Meehan said, "so any connection to this Republican criminal would not touch our campaign. We want to hold the bar a little bit higher."
Fellow Democratic Sen. Patty Murray said this week she is keeping nearly $41,000 in tribal donations related to Abramoff. Murray could not be reached for comment Friday.
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