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CAMPAIGN '08: RACE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE

Clinton, Boxer donor Jinnah to plead guilty

He admits reimbursing others for donations made to the senators.

February 21, 2008|Chuck Neubauer and Robin Fields | Times Staff Writers

Southern California businessman Abdul Rehman Jinnah has agreed to plead guilty to funneling tens of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions to Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barbara Boxer, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Jinnah is expected to formally enter his plea next week in Los Angeles federal district court. He could face more than a year in prison.

Under a plea agreement filed with the court, Jinnah admits he reimbursed employees and associates for $53,000 in donations made in their names to Clinton's political action committee and Boxer's 2004 reelection campaign.

His case, much like that of jailed Democratic fundraiser Norman Hsu, exemplifies the pitfalls of political fundraising, in which candidates hungry for cash ignore warning signs about those able to raise it.

Though Jinnah had faced corruption charges in Pakistan and accusations in the U.S. that he was a tax deadbeat and had engaged in bankruptcy fraud, he was prized on the Democratic fundraising circuit for his ability to tap the increasingly affluent Pakistani American community.

From mid-2004 to early 2005, he hosted a series of high-profile events, welcoming Clinton and Boxer into his home and collecting funds for presidential candidate John F. Kerry, then-Los Angeles Mayor James K. Hahn and then-City Council President Alex Padilla.

Jinnah was indicted in May 2006. Soon after, he fled the country for his native Pakistan. Jinnah's attorneys said later that he left to care for his ailing mother and stayed in Pakistan after falling ill himself.

After being told of the criminal charges against Jinnah, Clinton and Boxer gave charities or the U.S. Treasury the contributions listed in the indictment as well as donations made by Jinnah and his family.

Jinnah returned to the U.S. in May and has been under house arrest. An attorney for Jinnah declined to comment and said the matter would be dealt with in court.

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chuck.neubauer@latimes.com

robin.fields@latimes.com

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