Ryan (Wis.) also supported a bill in Congress that benefited Troha and his trucking company, legislation that drew the interest of federal prosecutors because of the contributions Ryan and other congressmen had accepted from Troha and his family.
Ryan was not found to have violated any laws, nor was he a target or key figure in the federal investigation, people familiar with the inquiry said. He was among more than 20 politicians of both parties who benefited from Troha’s largess. Troha was convicted of funneling illegal donations to other politicians, not Ryan, and Ryan donated Troha’s contributions to youth programs when the businessman was indicted.
When a Troha associate pleaded guilty in the campaign finance scheme, the only political figure specifically named in court documents for receiving contributions from the associate was Ryan.
The Romney campaign looked into the Troha matter “and concluded it was a complete non-issue,” a campaign official said on the condition of anonymity because he was not an authorized spokesman.
In an interview Saturday, Troha said Ryan “is a very bright, energetic and talented young man. My family was blessed financially, and I thought, ‘My goodness, this is someone, if he wins, we should support him.’ ”
Between 1999 and 2005, Troha and his family members contributed $58,102 to Ryan’s campaigns, according to campaign finance records. At the time, Troha was seeking support for his proposal to open an $808 million Indian casino in Ryan’s district.
Although state officials had final approval, Ryan agreed to call the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which was reviewing environmental impact studies. “He stated that his constituents are in favor of the application,” according to an e-mail written by a bureau staffer and obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which wrote extensively about the Ryan-Troha relationship.
In a 2006 interview with the newspaper, Ryan described the call as a routine inquiry on behalf of a constituent and said he was “neutral” on the casino project. But Troha said Ryan “made it very clear to me” that he opposed the project and felt it was “not appropriate” for the district. “I just asked him to make contact to see where things stood,” he said.
A spokeswoman for Ryan’s congressional office, Smythe Anderson, said Saturday that Ryan, “just as he has done for tens of thousands of constituents in southern Wisconsin, placed an inquiry with a federal agency. It is a simple example of casework, and there was never any allegation of impropriety.”