Steve Cooley's Potential Finance Scandal Ignites Kamala Harris Press Storm

Categories: Politics
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Steve Cooley is accused of taking funny money from not-so-funny people
San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris has wasted no time jumping on a report by our sister paper, LA Weekly, accusing her opponent in the state Attorney General's race of hypocrisy.

The article, which ran yesterday, notes that as Los Angeles' District Attorney, Steve Cooley aggressively prosecuted cases against fat cats accused of using straw donors to siphon money-laundered contributions to Democratic candidates. Yet, the Republican accepted donations from a twice-convicted felon named Gladwin Gill -- who was since convicted of pulling off identical campaign finance schemes to funnel funds to GOP politicians.

The ploy Gill -- and Cooley's Democratic-leaning targets -- executed is fairly simple. In order to skirt campaign contribution limits, a moneyed individual (or company) reimburses various family members, friends, or associates for their contributions. According to LA Weekly, while Cooley was busting Democrats for doing this, he accepted $1,000 from Gill in 2004.

Cooley also received the $1,000 max donation from six contributors tied to Gill by federal prosecutors in their successful case against him for campaign finance fraud. While the Democratic donors Cooley went after were charged on the local level, Gill's scheme funneled money to national politicians and was prosecuted in federal court.

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'Follow the money,' is good advice when being smart on crime, right?
Gill was found guilty of making $67,000 in phony contributions to four federal campaigns between 2003 to 2005. He was sentenced to 366 days in a federal prison and mandated to pay a fine of $200,000.

Harris has pounced on the damning LA Weekly story about Cooley's office as energetically as she attempted to refute a damning SF Weekly story about her own office.

At a press conference scheduled for 1:30 p.m. today, she'll call on Cooley to take "immediate action" regarding the six-year-old contributions.

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