Former Democratic U.S. Sen. Robert Torricelli has spent almost $1 million from his campaign account since leaving Congress, giving money to people with influence over his or his clients' business interests, according to a report by The New York Times.
The report, published for Friday's newspapers, found Torricelli donated $900,000 from his campaign account mostly to charities and nonprofits, but also to politicians and organizations tied to them.
For instance, in early 2006 Torricelli, who quite the 2002 Senate campaign amid ethical misconduct allegations, contributed $10,000 to the mayor of Trenton and his City Council candidates.
The donation was made as city agencies were reviewing an ultimately approved proposal by Torricelli to develop retail and office space in the city.
The report also found Torricelli gave more than $40,000 to Nevada Democratic Party organizations and candidates linked to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Torricelli then began reaching out to Reid for the government of Taiwan, a client that had retained him for $15,000 a month.
Torricelli contacted Reid to discuss Taiwan's opposition to a new
Chinese law that authorized force if Taiwan declared independence.
The report noted there was no evidence Torricelli violated federal rules.
Sean Jackson, Torricelli's campaign treasurer and a lobbying partner, denied the contributions were tied to his business interests.
"Bob has supported people who he believes in, and he doesn't regret doing it," Jackson said.
A Reid spokesman said it was unfair to single out Torricelli's donations because the state was receiving attention from Democrats who viewed it as key in the presidential election.
Trenton Mayor Douglas H. Palmer said the donations didn't play a role in Torricelli getting approvals.
"It's not like if you give me money, you're going to get stuff," he said.