Wednesday, December 11, 2002

What's the buzz?


Lindner chips in for GOP

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A ban on soft-money contributions to national political parties took effect after Election Day, but the Tristate's biggest political donor - Reds owner Carl Lindner - managed to write checks for $860,000 before the law hit the books.

Among the contributions were $550,000 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee in a two-month period ending Aug. 30, federal records showed.

Mr. Lindner would not comment. But he no doubt will receive requests to give through channels left unaffected by the new law, probably newly formed third-party lobbying groups run by people affiliated with the political parties.

And those close to him said they don't see him cutting off the contributions, as long as they're within the rules.

"There's still going to be a lot of avenues for people like Mr. Lindner to give big dollars," said Larry Noble, executive director of the Center for Responsive Politics in Washington, which has filed a protest arguing that the third-party groups circumvent the law.

The law bans previously unregulated soft-money contributions to national political parties.

Mr. Lindner wasn't alone in his big giving. Cintas Corp. chairman Dick Farmer and Tristate developer Bill Brisben each gave six-figure contributions last spring to national Republican campaign groups.

Not again

Loveland businessman Gary Bentz has gone back to jail after spending funds frozen by a court order.

Mr. Bentz, one of the two men responsible for operating Wellington Bank & Trust in Grenada, was sentenced to three month on a criminal contempt charge in November, according to the Security and Exchange Commission's Internet site.

In May, he faced a civil contempt charge after failing to explain why he improperly spent about $142,000 in frozen money.

U.S. District Judge David Hamilton imposed the freeze in early 2001.

A receiver found that Wellington raised more than $20 million from investors, with no luck recovering the losses.

Mr. Bentz's lawyer, Kevin McShane of Indianapolis, could not be reached for comment.

Show me the money

Some last-minute politicking aside, it looks like a $100 million Ohio venture capital fund targeted to help early-stage technology companies will become state law.

Passed by the Ohio House, the bill was delayed when some senators objected to last-second amendments dealing with taxation of dividends from S corporations. The Senate was on the verge of approving the compromise Tuesday.

The bill would offer tax credits to private investors to guard against losses.

E-mail cpeale@enquirer.com



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