After the various fundraising scandals that sank many Republican political careers (our own J. D. Hayworth may have been torpedoed, in part, by his association with Jack Abramoff), the sick bastard inside of me worried that the Republicans would learn from these mistakes and not affiliate themselves with some of the more unsavory characters that they have been raising money from.
Well, as it turns out, there is not much danger of that.
Enter Tom Stewart. Stewart, his wife and his company’s PAC, has given $13,000 to John Shadegg and $20,000 to the Arizona Republican Party. Like many members of the Thurston Howell wing of his party, he doesn’t let his belief in free markets interfere with his trying to get his share of government contracts. He was living in Washington State until he got fed up with their inheritance taxes. He pulled up stakes and moved to Scottsdale.
The guy may have just finally worn out his welcome too. He’s had numerous battles with the Seattle City Council. A few years back, his company, Service Group of America, was involved in a controversy over state food service contracts. Even worse, his company was fined $60,000 dollars for distributing tainted meat.
But hey, given who throws money around to politicians, this is pretty tame stuff.
Stewart’s most spectacular violation, at least in terms of the punishment, was back in 1998 when he pled guilty to violating campaign finance laws. He was fined $570,000 for an illegal contribution to an initiative campaign, plus, get ready for this, $4.2 million for illegal contributions to the campaign of Republican congressional candidate Peter von Reichbauer. Stewart had had his employees give to von Reichbauer’s campaign, and he would reimburse them from company funds. This is considered a big no no, since it amounts to a corporate contribution. In addition to the fine, he was subjected to house arrest, had to wear an ankle monitor, and do 160 hours of community service.
Did this make him persona non grata in Republican circles in Washington? Not immediately. He still hosted the annual Republican picnic at one of his homes, before dialing back his activity with the party. Maybe they no longer wanted to have anything to do with the man.
Here in Arizona though? Well, I guess our Republicans don’t have the same standards.