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Freddie Mac lobbyist will quit

Mortgage finance giant Freddie Mac has asked its top lobbyist, R. Mitchell Delk, to resign because of alleged improprieties in his political fundraising for members of Congress, sources who have been briefed on the matter said yesterday. ...

Until the press accounts last summer, Delk had hosted a fundraising dinner at Galileo [a restaurant in the West End of Washington] every other week or so for the past few years. What caught the eye of Freddie Mac's board was the unusual discount arrangement he had with the Italian restaurant, which charged him just $25 a person for a three-course dinner, wine, drinks, tax and tip for up to 20 dinners.

Each dinner would have cost $2,000 or more at the prices the restaurant charged most of its customers. Delk reported his payment for each dinner as an "in-kind" donation of $500 or $750 to the House member he hosted.

Under campaign law for most of the period, an individual could donate as much as $1,000 per election to a candidate. Usually, contributions are in the form of checks, but they also can be a donation of something of value, such as stamps or flowers, or in Delk's case, dinners.

Campaign law says candidates cannot benefit from discounts that are not generally available to the public. Last summer, Delk's lawyer at the time, Jan W. Baran, said in an e-mail, "Mr. Delk is fully compliant with all legal and reporting requirements." -- Freddie Mac Lobbyist Told to Quit (washingtonpost.com)

Thanks to Alfredo Garcia for the link.

The article also says that the FEC is investigating this. Let me speculate for a moment: Delk had a deal with Galileo so that he was billed $500 for a $2000 meal. If Galileo was providing these meals at lower than its cost, it would be making a contribution. But if Delk was paying Galileo under the table, then Delk was making the contribution. Just speculation, but what else would the FEC be investigating?