WASHINGTON — Sen. Harry Reid has shed $9,600 in campaign contributions linked to a big-time Democratic fundraiser who pleaded guilty to a $292 million bank fraud.
Hassan Nemazee, who ran a New York private equity firm, pleaded guilty in March to defrauding Citigroup Inc., Bank of America Corp. and HSBC Holdings.
Prosecutors said Nemazee spent some of the money on political contributions. They have been seeking its return, including funds given to Reid’s campaign committee, Friends for Harry Reid.
But in a letter sent Friday to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, a Reid campaign attorney said the money was donated to charity soon after Nemazee was arrested in August.
The U.S. Veterans Initiative and the Three Square food bank in Las Vegas each was given $4,800 in September, according to attorney Mark Elias.
“Because it has already disposed of the Nemazee’s contributions, the committee believes that it has satisfied its obligations,” Elias told prosecutors.
According to records at the Federal Election Commission, Nemazee and his wife each gave Friends for Harry Reid $4,800 on June 1, 2009.
Reid’s campaign said the couple attended a fundraising event, and Reid had no prior relationship with them.
Nemazee was finance chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and an active moneyman for the party dating to the Clinton administration.
In 2008, Nemazee raised money for Hillary Clinton’s presidential race, then brought in more than a half-million dollars for Barack Obama after Clinton dropped out of the race.