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'Swift Boat' Figure Joins Romney

By Chris Cillizza and Matthew Mosk
Saturday, March 17, 2007

The primary funder of an independent group that raised questions about the résumé of Sen. John F. Kerry during the 2004 presidential election has signed on to raise money for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney's GOP presidential campaign.

Bob Perry, a Houston home builder, is named as a member of Romney's Texas Leadership Team in an invite for a fundraising event in Dallas on March 26.

Perry has earned a reputation for his willingness to finance "527" groups. He gained notoriety for the $4.5 million he donated to Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, a group of Vietnam War veterans who questioned Kerry's military credentials. He funded similar pro-GOP groups in 2006, including the Economic Freedom Fund, which ran ads attacking Democrats in Georgia, Iowa and West Virginia, and A Stronger America, which financed ads attacking Democrat Mike Hatch in his Minnesota gubernatorial bid last year.

In 2006, Perry was the largest political donor in Texas, doling out nearly $400,000 to GOP Gov. Rick Perry's campaign alone (the two are not related).

Kerry has neither forgiven nor forgotten the group and its financiers. In a recent hearing on the nomination of one donor, Sam Fox, as ambassador to Belgium, Kerry questioned the nominee about the levels of "personal destruction" in modern politics among other topics.

When news of Perry's decision to sign on with Romney made it to Kerry's Senate office, his spokesman, David Wade, said it was "appalling but not surprising that a Texas tycoon famous for funding lies would now bankroll a presidential campaign built on flip-flopping and fiction."

Clinton Urged to Return Firm's Contributions

International Profit Associations, an Illinois firm that has been one of Hillary Rodham Clinton's largest sources of campaign funds, is facing new allegations of racketeering from former clients.

The firm's former customers, most of them small-business owners, filed suit in federal court this week alleging they were bilked out of tens of thousands of dollars. One plaintiff, Shelley Amari, who owns a commercial plumbing firm in Woburn, Mass., said she wants to know why the junior senator from New York has been willing to accept so much money from the firm.

"She should return this money," Amari said. "She should be looking at who these donors are."

Firm executives have donated more than $100,000 to the senator during her career. The Center for Responsive Politics identified the firm as her 12th-largest source of contributions. The firm also paid former president Bill Clinton $125,000 in speaking fees.

Asked yesterday whether Hillary Clinton would return the money, spokesman Phil Singer said by e-mail, "The allegations raised in these cases are troubling and we're continuing to monitor their outcomes."

Issues facing the firm and its owner have been well documented. Last year, the New York Times reported that IPA's founder had been disbarred in New York and had a record for attempted larceny and patronizing a 16-year-old prostitute; the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission opened one of its largest sexual harassment cases against the firm; and the Illinois attorney general has examined the firm's marketing tactics. At that time, Clinton's office said she was considering whether to return the money.

Politicians including Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) have returned contributions from the firm's executives. Former senator John Edwards (D-N.C.) took $6,000 from the firm; his spokesman declined to comment.

An IPA spokeswoman said yesterday that a similar suit was dismissed last year.

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