Lobbyists Gave to DeLay,
Reid Defense Funds
House Republican leader Tom DeLay (Tex.) and Senate Democratic leader Harry M. Reid (Nev.) are among five lawmakers who have accepted lobbyist donations to their legal defense funds despite rules prohibiting such contributions.
Congressional records show that DeLay accepted contributions from five lobbyists and one lobbying firm totaling $8,000 from 2001 to 2004. He has returned $3,500 from two of the donors.
Reid accepted one lobbyist contribution of $3,000 in 1999. The contributions were reported by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonpartisan, tax-exempt organization that conducts investigative research and reporting on public policy issues. Lawmakers can establish defense funds to help pay legal bills for ethics and criminal investigations or other legal matters including election recounts.
DeLay spokesman Kevin Madden said an audit by an independent firm is underway to ensure that the donations complied with the rules. "Any donations that are in noncompliance with the rules pertaining to legal defense funds will be returned," Madden said. "The audit will be finished shortly. Oftentimes, because of the volume or timing, some donations that are in noncompliance slip through."
Lobbyist Robert Odle Jr. said a $1,000 contribution to DeLay's fund in 2001 actually was made by his wife; the fund reported both their names -- as listed on the check.
Reid spokeswoman Tessa Hafen said the senator received a contribution from a longtime friend who had registered as a lobbyist shortly before the donation. She said Reid was not aware of the registration at the time. Hafen said the legal defense fund account is closed and Reid has asked the Senate's ethics committee how to proceed.
Israeli Gets 3 Years for
Dealing Nuclear Devices
An Israeli businessman who conspired to ship controlled nuclear technology to Pakistan was sentenced to three years in federal prison.
U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina imposed the sentence Thursday on Asher Karni, who pleaded guilty last year to helping ship devices that could be used to test, develop and detonate nuclear weapons.
Karni, who was based in South Africa, admitted routing sophisticated oscilloscopes and high-speed electrical switches through South Africa to avoid raising authorities' suspicions. The scopes and the switches were then shipped to Pakistan.
A federal indictment is pending against Humayun A. Khan, a Pakistani businessman who the government says was Karni's partner. Khan remains at large. The United States prohibits the export of the switches -- also known as "triggered spark gaps," which can be used in medical and military devices -- to Pakistan and some other countries to prevent nuclear proliferation.
Judicial Watch Awarded
$900,000 in Legal Fees
A federal judge awarded the legal group Judicial Watch nearly $900,000 for attorneys' fees and costs stemming from suits for documents related to Commerce Department trade missions in the 1990s.
U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth ruled last week that the group should be reimbursed for some costs incurred during roughly 10 years of litigation with the department.
Judicial Watch sued the Commerce Department in the 1990s for information about the department's trade missions in an effort to document whether businesses won seats on those missions in return for donations to the Democratic Party.
-- From News Services