Bush pardon donor gave $4,600 to Coleman

President Bush has reversed a pardon for New York mortgage scamster Isaac Toussie on conflict-of-interest grounds because Toussie’s father gave the Republican National Committee $28,500 in April. But Robert Toussie had another favored recipient: Norm Coleman.

The elder Toussie and his wife gave Coleman $4,600 — the maximum allowed — on Oct. 15, three weeks before Election Day. Toussie gave Oregon GOP Sen. Gordon Smith the same amount on the same day.

Why those two? We don’t yet know. Coleman is the ranking member of the Senate’s Subcommittee on Investigations, while Smith sits on the Finance and Commerce committees. Some might argue Coleman’s committee could investigate a Bush “get-out-of-jail-free” card, but given the president’s absolute pardon power, there’s not much they could do to change it.

There’s no evidence either senator knew the Toussies’ sordid past. According to the New York Times:

“… the name of Isaac Toussie is detested by many working-class people in the New York metropolitan area. In 2001, several hundred of them sued in Federal District Court, accusing Mr. Toussie and his father of masterminding a scheme in which inexperienced or first-time buyers were promised affordable and comfortable suburban houses but instead were sold shoddily built homes in poor neighborhoods and saddled by mortgage payments that shot up surprisingly.”

Here’s one circumstantial theory: by mid-October, many incumbent Republican senators faced certain defeat; the two best hopes to block a filibuster-proof Democratic majority were Coleman and Smith. (North Carolina’s Liddy Dole was already being written off as a sure loser; Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss wasn’t considered vulnerable, even though he was forced to a runoff to win.)

It’s not too farfetched to think the Toussies realized — or were told — that giving in Minnesota and Oregon would help the national GOP the most. That would put their gifts in the same vein as Robert Toussie’s large RNC donation, his first-ever federal contribution.

Among other post-Christmas questions: Given what we now know about the Toussies’ scummy past, will Norm give the $4,600 back?

You can also learn about all our free newsletter options.

Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by syk piskal on 12/25/2008 - 03:31 pm.

    Smithtown Bancorp Approved by U.S. Treasury for Capital of $37.8 Million

    Name and Address of Selling Shareholders

    Robert I. Toussie
    290 Exeter Street
    Brooklyn, NY 11235



  2. Submitted by Dick Novack on 12/26/2008 - 07:20 pm.

    This theme is silly. It may be fascinating to imagine that anyone in campaign leadership, especially the candidate, sees the donations flowing. Even more fascinating is that someone would imagine setting up (and funding) a large enough staff to analyze the background of donors. (Maybe it happens in Illinois.) Obama’s campaign would have to have investigated many millions of people, and hundreds of thousands of “large donors.” The investigative cost is prohibitive. Everyone should just keep the campaign money and move on.

    My own experience in campaigns is that money arrives, one at most checks that the donor did not exceed any legal limits, that the donor is not on the campaign’s or candidate’s NO LIST and then the money is funnelled into the bank by the bookkeepers. Most campaigns – beyond local elections – set up rules about NOT informing the candidate about donors. Meanwhile the candidate sleeplessly campaigns and staff plots how to budget the money that does arrive. I’ve never seen anyone at the top look at the money source, even though we know some of it always comes from those that might want influence or a chance to “meet” the candidate. It’s take the money and run. Sure, you sometimes shmooze and gladhand some people letting them think they are special. Sort of like a salesman at Cartier or Tiffany.

    Trust me, meeting the candidate doesn’t do much for most people. Certainly not me. I’ve met 3 presidents, numerous senators and congressmen, and drank with a couple MN governors. I can’t remember getting any favors that regular unconnected citizens cant ge’t by simply asking the officials constituient services staff persons at the public phone number. In fact that is how I do get my “favors.” I contact staff….

  3. Submitted by Robb Mitchell on 12/30/2008 - 02:45 pm.

    I’ve worked on campaigns and for U.S. Senators in their state offices. Certainly in the heat of the battle, much of what Dick Novack says is true. Money crosses the transom and as long as the numbers clear basic contribution laws and the names don’t stand out from a list of troublesome individuals, corporation, or PAC donors, not much attention is paid. However, that’s not the whole story.

    Donors do make their contributions strategically. Access is given to large donors and elephants never forget. Staff plays a critical role in making sure the candidate or Senator is fully aware of their connections to constituents and donors both on a local level and in the national arena’s.

    And Coleman is particularly well informed on these issues of access since he lives in the residence owned by a big time lobbyist Jeff Larson and their offices are also located there. How convenient…

    Novack, when saying he has “met” 3 presidents, senators and congressmen, must certainly be referring to the grip-and-grab occasions when the candidate is making an appearance or photo-op but that’s not when policy or, more specifically, pardons and investigations are discussed. Let’s not play too stupid here.

Leave a Reply