Why Didn't The Herald Write More About Bill Nelson's Stanford Ponzi Problem?
First, let's give the feds some credit.
If the Miami Herald's Sunday story updating the Allen Stanford Ponzi-o-rama is accurate, it took the daily only about ten months to finally begin probing the dozens of federal officials who took millions in cash from the (alleged) scam artist and then looked the other way while he ripped of thousands of victims. Yay, feds!
But where in hell was Sen. Bill Nelson in this story?
If you'll recall our February story about Stanford's political ties, you'll surely remember Nelson took more cash from Stanford than any other single member of Congress. Here's a rundown on Nelson's connections to the saga, from our last story:
In 2002, as Congress took up a bill called the Financial Services Antifraud Network Act, which would have strengthened U.S. regulators, Stanford upped his lobbying. That year, according to the Center for Responsive Politics -- a nonprofit group that monitors campaign money -- Stanford's group gave $800,000 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee -- the vice chairman of which was ... Nelson. The senator received more of Stanford's cash than any other member of Congress, according to one study, with $45,900 donated to his campaign. Stanford, in fact, personally hosted a fundraising event for Nelson in Florida. The anti-money-laundering bill died in a Senate committee.
The Herald's story on Sunday mentions Nelson's name just once and only to note he's given $45,000 of Stanford-donated cash back to charities.
Just to be clear, we're not saying Nelson played any more nefarious a role in the Stanford affair than, for instance, Texas Rep. Pete Sessions, whose hilariously bromantic emails to Stanford were the focus of the Herald story.
But it would be mighty odd if the feds weren't as interested in Nelson's role at the DSCC back in 2002 as they were in Session's interest in his fellow Texan. Here's what Nelson's staff told us back in February about his connections:
Nelson has given all of the donations back to charity, and there is no clear link between his actions as DSCC vice chairman or senator and what appear to be Stanford's efforts to kill the bill. The Florida Democrat was a junior senator in his first term when the bill was taken up, and his staff disputes the notion that he wielded enough power to influence the legislation. The same provisions later found their way into the Patriot Act, and Nelson voted for them there, says Nelson spokesman Dan MacLaughlin.
"Allen Stanford never asked us for anything, nor did he receive anything," MacLaughlin says, noting that $45,900 was not a significant sum in a campaign that garnered tens of millions.
There's one other far less significant but much funnier local connection the Herald missed. Katherine Harris, everyone's favorite clown/former congresswoman, almost certainly took one of Stanford's famed luxury junkets to Antigua in 2005 .
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Miami New Times' biggest stories.