THE BLOG
05/23/2006 09:56 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Katherine Harris -- Still a Crook

Back in November 2000, while Katherine Harris was hard at work trying to suppress the voters' will by preventing a presidential election recount, I commented on Wolf Blitzer's program that the then-Florida Secretary of State was a crook. I thought it was significant that the person charged with handing Florida ballots was not only deeply entangled in the Bush campaign, but that she also had a history of corruption.

The backstory behind my allegation - entirely true and unchallenged - was that during Harris's 1994 state senate campaign, she had taken over $20,000 in illegal contributions. (The story was especially strange, given that Harris is independently wealthy. The University of Florida's football stadium is named after her grandfather.) Harris's campaign manager took the fall and was named an un-indicted co-conspirator in the subsequent criminal investigation that landed the corporate donor's founder in prison for five months. Two years later, Harris shamelessly sponsored a bill favorable to the offending corporation from which she had taken the $20,000 at the request of its lobbyists.

For pointing out Harris's seedy past I was subject to a barrage of abuse from the likes of The Washington Times ("When This is All Over, We Spray for Lawyers"), The Weekly Standard ("The Politics of Personal Destruction"), National Review ("Alan Dershowitz, Goofball"), and of course, various FoxNews shows.

Then, last Friday, the Boston Globe reported that Harris, now a congresswoman, faces the exact same charges and has offered up the same feeble defense as she did back in the '90s. Prosecutors are accusing Harris, among others, of accepting tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions from defense contractor Mitchell Wade. "Wade then discussed getting specific defense appropriations with Harris and Goode or their staffs, according to court documents." The story goes on to relate an incident in which Wade and Harris met for a dinner costing $2,800, which Wade paid for, in violation of House ethics rules. Harris's excuse is that "she didn't eat or drink much at the dinner and that she thought her staff had paid for her share."

Katherine Harris, apparently, is the same crooked politician that she was in 1994 and 2000. The only difference is that back then, she was a state-level crook. Today she's a federal crook.

My e-mail for accepting apologies from my Republican critics is dersh@law.harvard.edu.