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Spitzer to Return Donations

The candidate for New York governor received $124,455 from indicted law firm Milberg Weiss.

May 20, 2006|From Times Wire Services

New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer will return $124,455 in contributions to his gubernatorial campaign from Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, the law firm accused of paying kickbacks to clients, Spitzer aides said Friday.

The campaign decided to return money after Thursday's indictment of the New York firm, said Christine Anderson, a spokeswoman for Spitzer's campaign.

The figure includes contributions from individual lawyers, she said.

"We would return the money from any entity under indictment," said Darren Dopp, a Spitzer spokesman. The attorney general wasn't involved in the Milberg Weiss investigation, he said.

Stephen Minarik, chairman of the New York State Republican Committee, has criticized Democrat Spitzer for months for accepting donations from the class-action firm, saying the state attorney general turned a blind eye to lawyers he should have been investigating.

Minarik said Friday that it was proper for the campaign to return the money.

"I applaud them for doing that," he said.

Dopp said U.S. prosecutors didn't seek assistance from Spitzer and the attorney general wouldn't launch his own investigation knowing one was underway.

The U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles conducted the Milberg Weiss investigation. Besides the firm, partners David J. Bershad, 66, and Steven G. Schulman, 54, were indicted. They denied the allegations.

The firm called the indictment "unjust, misguided and misinformed."

Also Friday, Ohio Atty. Gen. Jim Petro fired Milberg Weiss as special counsel on a class-action lawsuit.

A spokesman said Petro dismissed the law firm from representing the Ohio Tuition Trust Authority in federal court in Maryland in litigation involving Putnam Investments. Putnam is a unit of Marsh & McLennan Cos.

Bloomberg News and Reuters were used in compiling this report.

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