$8 Million Fine For Illegal Corporate Donations
Pennsylvania trash firm pleads guilty to laundering contributions
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, Oct. 9) -- In what prosecutors called the largest fine ever for a campaign finance violation, a Pennsylvania landfill company has agreed to pay an $8 million penalty for making $129,000 in illegal corporate campaign contributions.
USA Waste Services Inc. agreed to the penalty to settle violations of federal campaign laws by the company's previous owners.
According to a federal indictment, the firm -- previously known as Empire Sanitary Landfill -- funneled $129,000 in illegal corporate contributions to 10 political campaigns, including those of Republican nominee Robert Dole and President Bill Clinton last year.
The indictment alleged that the company worked to disguise the contributions so it appeared the donations came from company employees or people associated with the company, then reimbursed them with corporate funds.
While the company has pleaded guilty, six people, including four former officials, a Pennsylvania state representative and a business associate, still face trial in the case.
Under federal election law, it's illegal to give corporate funds to a candidate or make a contribution in another person's name.
Even though USA Waste only acquired the landfill in December 1996, it is legally responsible for the actions of the former employees and will pay the fine, U.S. Attorney David M. Barasch told The Associated Press.
USA Waste, North America's third-largest solid waste company, said the company may sue the former owners for not apprising them about the full extent of the investigation.
The Washington Post reported the biggest beneficiary of the Empire scheme was the Dole presidential campaign, which allegedly received $80,000 in illegal contributions in April and May 1995. The Clinton-Gore campaign received $10,000 in illegal contributions in September 1995, the indictment said.
The other recipients of the allegedly illegal contributions, the Post reported, were Pennsylvania Republican Sens. Arlen Specter ($10,000) and Rick Santorum ($6,000); two unsuccessful GOP Senate candidates from New Jersey, Chuck Haytaian ($10,000) and Richard DuHaime ($5,000); Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) ($1,000); and Reps. Jon D. Fox (R-Pa.) ($3,000), Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) ($3,000) and Bill Paxon (R-N.Y.) ($1,000).
Barasch said no evidence exists to suggest any of the candidates, including President Clinton and Dole, knew about the illegal contributions.
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Thursday Oct. 9, 1997
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