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  Sen. Cantell [sic] helped lobbyist's clients
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Last EditedImperator  Sep 08, 2006 05:35am
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MediaWebsite - Yahoo News
News DateFriday, September 8, 2006 11:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionWASHINGTON - Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell (news, bio, voting record) helped arrange more than $11 million in federal money in the past year for projects benefiting clients of a lobbyist who is advising her re-election campaign and still owes her money from a personal loan.

Cantwell, a Democrat who is in a tight re-election race, has reported for years that former campaign manager Ron Dotzauer owes her between $15,000 and $50,000 for a personal loan predating her first Senate election in 2000. Dotzauer now runs a lobbying firm.

The loan was still listed as outstanding on the financial disclosure report Cantwell filed in May. The senator's office said Dotzauer continues to advise informally Cantwell's campaign as an unpaid adviser.

Since last fall, Cantwell has helped persuade Senate appropriators to set aside $9.6 million — known as "earmarks" in congressional parlance — for a dam project benefiting two clients of Dotzauer's firm and $2 million more for the biotechnology company Inologic also represented by his firm.

Cantwell's spokesman said Thursday the senator's efforts to secure the money had nothing to do with Dotzauer or his personal loan, and were driven by the fact that the projects benefited her home state.

"She believes a senator from Washington state should fight for the people and companies of the state when it comes to matters before the federal government. That's part of her job," spokesman Michael Meehan said.

Senate ethics rules require lawmakers to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest in taking official acts that benefit people with whom the senators have a personal financial interest.

Ethics experts said Cantwell's case illustrates the difficulties lawmakers can get themselves into when they have personal dealings with a lobbyist who has client business before their offices. They said she should have avoided helping the clients or made sure the loan was repaid before she helped.
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