I wrote yesterday about how former MZM executive James C. King, a onetime aide to former NSA chief Michael Hayden, participated
in two campaign "straw donor" scams on behalf of his company, according to government records. Basically, he wrote checks to candidates at the direction of MZM head Mitchell Wade
, and Wade immediately reimbursed him in cash.
I wondered, if King was considered a lawbreaker, why had he apparently escaped punishment? I called oft-quoted political finance expert Brett Kappel, or Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease, and put it to him.
"Technically, straw donors have committed felonies," Kappel told me. But the Justice Department rarely prosecutes them. "In 28 years, I've never seen them prosecute a straw donor." (Participating in such scams is a violation of FEC rules, too, according to Kappel -- but their record on prosecutions is about the same, he believes.)
Generally, Kappel said, federal prosecutors rely on the donors to testify against the main donor who reimbursed them. In this case, Wade has confessed to the scam. So it looks like King walks.