Not every investment dollar accepted by apparent $50 billion Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff went to pay dividends to other investors. The man who has shaken up Palm Beach, Jewish and other nonprofits - as well as dozens of wealthy people from Los Angeles to London - gave generously to politicians and the Republican and Democratic parties, and also spent a minor fortune on lobbying, according to Federal Election Commission records analyzed by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Since 1991, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities spent $372,100 in campaign contributions ?mostly to Democrats – and $590,000 in lobbying – mostly to the firm of Arlington, Va.-based Lent, Scrivner & Roth, which has represented oil, telecom and pharmaceutical companies. Among issues lobbied on Madoff’s behalf, according to lobbying records: money from Interior, National Park Service, and housing appropriations for a “tenement museum” on the lower east side of New York City.
Another lobbying firm, Dow Lohnes Government Strategies, quickly severed ties with Madoff’s firm on Dec. 12. Among projects pursued on Madoff’s behalf, according to lobbying registration records: Urging adoption of the $700 billion bailout legislation.
As noted elsewhere, there’s nothing quite like the popping of an asset bubble to expose investment scams. But not everybody lost money along the way; beneficiaries of Madoff’s political contributions over the years (assuming they didn’t also invest with Madoff) included U.S. senators such as Hillary Clinton, Charles E. Schumer, and Charles Rangel, as well as the Securities Industry Association, records show.
As for U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, another beneficiary of political donations? His charitable foundation invested $12.8 million of its $13.8 million in assets with Madoff, and in 2006, according to this report, returned 12.4 percent. Some 106 organizations benefitted from the charity’s donations that year.