Judge orders political committees to return funds from Allen Stanford
By R. Jeffrey Smith,
Five national political party committees are obligated to return more than $1.6 million they received from alleged Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford to a court-appointed receiver for his Houston-based international company, a federal judge in Texas ruled on Tuesday.
Judge David C. Godbey rejected the committees’ claims that the receiver’s demands were not filed quickly enough or barred by federal campaign law, granting a summary judgment on behalf of the receiver, Texas lawyer Ralph S. Janvey.
“Although as innocent beneficiaries ... [of Stanford’s funds] the Political Committees deserve some sympathy,” they are not entitled to special treatment exempting them from an obligation to give back funds that appear to have been derived from a Ponzi scheme, Godbey said.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee owes $950,00; the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee owes $200,000; the National Republican Congressional Committee owes $238,500; the National Republican Senatorial Committee owes $83,345; and the Republican National Committee owes $128,500, according to the court.
Shripal Shah, spokesman for the DSCC, said “We disagree with the court’s decision and are currently reviewing our legal options.” The other committees had no immediate comment.
An attorney for the reciever, Kevin Sadler, called the decision an “important victory” for the victims, and said the committees had needlessly incurred attorney fees and other expenses the receiver will also seek to recover.
Sadler said that in the past month, eight lawmakers — including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. Charles Schumer — had returned a total of $26,000 in Stanford funds, but that many others have continued to ignore the receiver’s appeals.