Whittemore Asks Nevada State Bar for Leniency

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RENO, Nev. (AP) -Former powerbroker Harvey Whittemore told a Nevada State Bar disciplinary panel that he did not think he broke the law when he used family and friends as "straw donors" to pump more than $130,000 into the campaign of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2007.

Whittemore, who was convicted last year of violating campaign finance laws and sentenced to two years in prison, is seeking leniency from the panel.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reports Whittemore testified Friday that he studied the law and decided that he could legally take out a loan, distribute the funds as gifts and ask the recipients to support Reid's campaign.

He said he didn't think he was committing a crime and he believed he was "absolutely authorized" to make the contributions.

After hearing closing arguments Jan. 22, the disciplinary panel will have 30 days to decide what punishment, if any, it will recommend to the Nevada Supreme Court.