Nevada campaign donor is indicted

Nevada lobbyist and lawyer Harvey Whittemore was indicted Wednesday on charges that he made unlawful campaign contributions to a member of Congress and lied about it to the FBI.

Justice Department officials, in the indictment, did not name the lawmaker who received the contributions. But law enforcement sources said it was Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). Reid has not been accused of wrongdoing or charged in the case.

“At no time did Senator Reid have any knowledge that Mr. Whittemore was engaging in these alleged unlawful contributions to Senator Reid or any elected official,” said Kristen Orthman, a spokeswoman for Reid.

Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer said that the violation of campaign finance laws “jeopardizes the integrity of our elections.”

“Mr. Whittemore allegedly used his family members and employees as conduits to make illegal contributions to the campaign committee of an elected member of Congress,” Breuer said .

Whittemore, 55, of Reno, was also charged by a grand jury with causing false statements to be made to the Federal Election Commission. If convicted, he ­faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each of four counts.

His attorney, Dominic P. Gentile, said in a statement that “Mr. Whittemore always acted in a law abiding manner, well within his constitutional rights and with complete transparency.”

According to the indictment, Whittemore allegedly devised a scheme in March 2007 using relatives and his employees and their spouses as “conduits” to funnel money to an official’s campaign.

Reid and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said in February that they would donate to charity thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Whittemore after t he Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that a federal grand jury was investigating the lobbyist.

Whittemore and Reid have a friendship going back decades. Records show that on March 31, 2007, Reid’s Senate campaign received more than $100,000 from donors with ties to Whittemore.

Sari Horwitz covers the Justice Department, after 30 years at the paper where she has been an investigative reporter and covered federal law enforcement, crime, education and social services.
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