Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Jailed lawyer Rothstein accused of making improper campaign contributions

Fort Lauderdale lawyer Scott Rothstein doled out large bonuses to his firm's lawyers, purportedly for exemplary work — but they would receive the awards only after they made fat campaign contributions in their names to political candidates of Rothstein's choice.

That allegation, tucked into federal racketeering charges filed Tuesday against Rothstein, says the employees' donations to politicians — including Gov. Charlie Crist — were illegal because they were bundled and funded with money from the lawyer's $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

"(The) conduct was designed to conceal the true source of the contribution and to illegally circumvent campaign finance laws," according to the charges.

Rothstein, 47, was under investigation for a month after investors in his deals to sell legal settlements accused him of stealing from them. He was arrested Tuesday on racketeering, money laundering and fraud charges, and pleaded not guilty before a magistrate judge in Fort Lauderdale. He faces up to 100 years in prison. He was ordered held in jail until trial.

Authorities said he spent tens of millions of dollars on his lavish lifestyle and donated millions more to charities and politicians to enhance his reputation.

All told, Rothstein and the lawyers associated with his firm gave more than $2.1 million to state and federal candidates and political committees since he allegedly began his scam in 2005.

Crist, a Republican, received more contributions from Rothstein and lawyers of his firm — Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler — than any other candidate this year: $80,450 for his U.S. Senate bid, according to records.

Asked whether he would return all the money now that federal authorities are alleging Rothstein's contributions were tainted, Crist said: "Well, certainly, if there's evidence that indicates (wrongdoing) that's exactly what we would do."

Dozens of other politicians are preparing to do the same.

Rothstein was so instrumental in Crist's successful 2006 governor's race that Crist appointed him to a panel that nominated Broward County judicial candidates.

Except for Democratic Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who is running for governor, a few Democrats and a single $200,000 check Rothstein gave to the Florida Democratic Party in September, most of Rothstein's political contributions went to Republicans. The state's Republican Party has received at least $628,000 from Rothstein and his firm since 2005.

According to the racketeering charges, prosecutors sought to recover campaign donations made by Rothstein himself to Crist ($9,600), Sink ($6,000) and the state GOP ($145,000). All three voluntarily returned the money to the U.S. government, prosecutors said.

Times/Herald staff writer Lee Logan contributed to this report.

Jailed lawyer Rothstein accused of making improper campaign contributions 12/01/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 10:46pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Double your fun: Twitter's testing a 280-character limit for tweets


    Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey last year made a definitive announcement about the company's famous 140-character count amid rumors that the firm would substantially relax the limit. "It's staying," Dorsey told the "Today" show's Matt Lauer. "It's a good constraint for us."

    In this 2013, file photo, the Twitter logo appears on an updated phone post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. [AP photo]
  2. Dead woman with sun tattoo found near elementary school


    TAMPA --- She had a tattoo of a sun on her abdomen, with the words "The World is Mine."

  3. CentCom shares complexities of job with Tampa Rotarians


    TAMPA — As the commander of U.S. Central Command, Army Gen. Joseph Votel has one of the world's most challenging to-do lists.

    Army Gen. Joseph Votel, commander of U.S. Central Command, tells Tampa Rotarians about the complexities of the region he oversees. [HOWARD ALTMAN   |   Times staff]
  4. Rick Baker debuts new campaign ad to woo younger voters


    Former mayor Rick Baker's campaign unveiled a reboot of sorts Tuesday with the debut of a new TV ad.

    In a new ad, former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker surprises a group of people in a restaurant who are talking about his accomplishments. He says, "You ain't seen nothing yet."
  5. Editorial: DOT listens, adjusts on I-275 plans in Tampa


    Florida continues to improve its plan for modernizing the interstate system in Tampa Bay. The Florida Department of Transportation has unveiled four new options for rebuilding I-275 near downtown Tampa, and some of them would ditch previous plans for toll lanes downtown while keeping express lanes for faster, …

    State officials are re-evaluating parts of I-4 and I-275 in Tampa as part of a supplemental environmental impact study, or SEIS.