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Venture Capitalist Is the Latest Donor to Get Dumped


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Oregon venture capitalist Craig Berkman owes his investors $28 million in civil damages for misappropriating their money. The investors, however, haven't yet received his cash--but lawmakers, including presidential candidate John McCain, have. And if other politicians follow McCain's lead, they'll be dumping Berkman's tainted political contributions as soon as they can.

A one-time gubernatorial candidate in Oregon and the state's former Republican chairman, Berkman admitted that he lent himself $5 million of his investors' money without telling them, according to the Washington Post. Berkman has a long record of giving to Republican lawmakers and continued to do so this election cycle despite the deep debt he owes his investors, opening his wallet instead to McCain (who received the maximum $4,600 per election cycle from both Berkman and his wife); former presidential candidates Mike Huckabee and Rudy Giuliani (both of whom collected the maximum $2,300 for the primary election from him) and the Republican National Committee (which got $23,900 through Berkman's contribution to the McCain Victory Fund). When notice of the jury's decision reached McCain's camp, he promptly gave the money to the American Red Cross to distance himself from Berkman, and called on the RNC to follow suit.

In the 2006 election cycle, the list of lwamakers to receive money from Berkman included Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.). Even President Bush got $2,000 for both his 2000 presidential campaign and his 2004 re-election campaign from the embattled venture capitalist, who "repeatedly referenced his political connections as a means of luring investors," the Post wrote in a front-page article Wednesday.

To add insult to injury, some of the investors Berkman owes may not support the lawmakers he's been backing. Investor Jordan Schnitzer, for example, has given Democrats more than twice what he's given Republican candidates so far this election cycle ($11,600 compared to $5,000). Other investors who sued are more in line with Berkman's politics. Peter Stott, for example, favored Republicans with his contributions this cycle, giving nearly six times more to Republicans between his wife and himself. Yet Stott and other Republican backers who are among the investors would still probably rather see Berkman's money in their own pockets.

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