Back in December, when the story broke that Bernard Madoff had fleeced investors of billions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme, the Huffington Post's Sam Stein asked the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee if it would return more than $100,000 the group had received from Madoff. A DSCC spokesman said at the time that that decision "is under review."
Today, Madoff pleaded guilty and now faces a sentence of up to 150 years in jail. Asked this evening if the DSCC would return the Madoff money, spokesman Eric Schultz told me: "We haven't returned the money, and there are no immediate plans to do so." Schultz declined further comment when asked if the DSCC, whose chairman is New Jersey senator Robert Menendez, is concerned that the group had accepted $100,000 in what is essentially stolen cash.
Bernard Madoff was a big Democratic donor, as Jonathan V. Last noted earlier today. According to OpenSecrets, 88 percent of the $238,000 he and his wife donated since 1991 went to Democratic politicians, many of whom have given, or are in the process of giving, the money to charities.
For example, according to Sen. Chuck Schumer's office, the New York senator is in the process of giving all $29,300 received from Madoff, his wife, and extended family to a trust being established for Madoff's victims.In December, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) donated $14,000 in Madoff contributions to a food bank in Oregon, though he kept $19,000 in contributions from other Madoff family members.
Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.) has donated the $2,000 he received from Madoff to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem, and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.) is in the process of determining where to donate the $1,000 contribution he received from Madoff back in 1993.
The offices of Sen. Chris Dodd, Rep. David Obey, and NARAL did not respond to inquiries about Madoff's campaign contributions. A State Department spokesman said he did not know what Hillary Clinton had done with Madoff's contributions to her.
According to a 2002 New York Times report on how politicians were handling contributions received from Enron, "all four of the Congressional campaign committees are returning contributions they received -- either to the company or to funds that have been established to help employees who have watched their retirement savings dry up."