Contract earned Rendell donor $600,000
HARRISBURG -- Gov. Ed Rendell was not aware the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency awarded a no-bid contract in 2003 to a California company headed by a member of his transition team for the Department of Revenue, his spokesman said Tuesday.
Since then, CDR Financial Products has collected nearly $600,000 as a financial adviser to the housing agency, according to figures provided by Brian Hudson, the agency's executive director. Its current contract is for $45,000, Hudson said.
CDR's president, David Rubin, donated $35,000 to Rendell's campaigns -- $20,000 of it in 2002, state records show.
The prominent businessman is caught up in a grand jury investigation that ended any role for New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson in President-elect Barack Obama's administration.
Rubin donated $100,000 in 2003 and 2004 to the political committees of Richardson. The contributions came both before and after Rubin's company won a state contract to help finance $1.4 billion for highway and transportation projects, a contract that brought $1.5 million in business for CDR.
In 2005, he donated $10,000 to Philadelphia Future PAC, which is controlled by Comcast executive David Cohen, a close confidant of Rendell's who served as his chief of staff when he was Philadelphia mayor.
"The administration has had absolutely no role in choosing the firm to do this work at PHFA," said Rendell spokesman Chuck Ardo. Rendell was elected in 2002 and took office in January 2003.
Hudson said he made the decision and wasn't contacted by anyone in the governor's office or the transition team. A veteran of several administrations over 34 years, Hudson became executive director of the housing agency in 2003.
"From my perspective, it is much ado about nothing," Ardo said.
In a statement on his company's Web page, Rubin has denied engaging in "pay to play," a reference to companies and individuals who make political contributions or personal gifts to public officials in return for government contracts. He could not be reached for comment.
A federal grand jury met last month in Albuquerque to look at how the company won $1.5 million of work from the New Mexico Finance Authority in 2004. In New Mexico, CDR donated $100,000 to Richardson's campaign committees.
Richardson has said he will be cleared but that the investigation likely would have disrupted a timely nomination.
CDR has other ties to Pennsylvania.
The company in 2006 was paid $225,000 as a "swap adviser" on City of Philadelphia Gas Works bonds, according to a memo to city officials from broker JP Morgan.
The company has been represented in Harrisburg by Philadelphia lawyer Alan Kessler, a longtime fundraiser for Rendell, state records show. Kessler could not be reached by phone or e-mail. Kessler as a lobbyist listed thousands of dollars of expenditures for CDR in 2006. It could not be determined whether he still represents CDR.
Records show Rubin donated $5,000 in 2003 to Philadelphia-based political action committee Citizens Action. The committee was set up by Philadelphia attorney Ronald A. White and operated from his Center City office.
A federal grand jury in 2004 indicted White, along with former Philadelphia City Treasurer Corey Kemp and two officers of New Jersey-based Commerce Bank in a pay-to-play case. A prolific fundraiser for then-Mayor John F. Street, White died before being brought to trial.
Kemp, who was charged with accepting bribes in return for awarding city business to the bank, was found guilty in 2005 and is serving a 10-year prison sentence. Two bank officers were convicted.
Ardo said Rendell received "contributions from a well-known wealthy donor who is known to make contributions to Democrats at all levels of government. ... It is not surprising the firm does work for other government entities."
The $20,000 Rubin gave in 2002 is not a significant contribution considering Rendell got much larger ones, Ardo said.
The American Spectator reported Tuesday that Rendell is under investigation, but Ardo said the publication "has no way of knowing whether there's an investigation." The governor and his staff have not been contacted about any supposed investigation, Ardo said.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Linebacker Timmons hoping for contract extension
- Fire destroys home in Springfield
- Penguins notebook: Dupuis’ intangibles provide 1st-line value
- Humane Society lifts quarantine on dogs at North Side shelter
- Butler man charged in connection with fatal ATV crash
- Friends, family, history lure natives back to Western Pennsylvania
- Uniontown teen charged in shooting of friend
- Steelers veteran linebacker Harrison focused on stretch run
- Emotional send-off awaits Pitt seniors
- Starkey: Artie Rowell’s incredible odyssey
- Penguins co-owner Lemieux snuffs rumored rift with Crosby