Ending one of several embezzlement cases involving Congressional campaigns that came to light in 2003, a former aide to Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) was sentenced last week to more than three years in federal prison for stealing better than $412,000 in political funds from the potential presidential aspirant.
Roger Blevins, 34, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kent Jordan to three years and one month in prison, concurring with a federal prosecutor’s assertion that Blevins diverted Biden’s campaign cash to “fund his own fantasy life,” according to The News Journal of Wilmington, Del. Blevins stole the money from Citizens for Biden and spent it on three men from Florida he met on a gay pornographic Web site, making at least 20 transfers out of the account between October 2002 and July 2003 — during which time Biden was considering making a late entry into the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries.
Instead of being used as seed money for a presidential campaign, the money was spent on a Porsche Boxster, a BMW convertible, expensive dinners and other gifts to Blevins’ romantic partners, one of whom alerted the authorities after an altercation over one of the items.
Biden is again considering a presidential bid, although he is approaching the 2008 race in a much more traditional fashion than he did in 2004 — delivering policy speeches to key constituencies and traveling to Jefferson-Jackson dinners held by state Democratic parties. Aides said the loss of the embezzled funds played no role in his decision not to enter the ’04 race, but it was a significant loss of cash: Biden had $574,000 on hand as of Dec. 31, according to reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.
The missing $400,000 would put him at almost $1 million on hand, all of which could be transferred into a presidential campaign account.
All but $10,000 of the stolen money was lost, with the $10,000 recovered from friends of Blevins who were given that amount of cash as a wedding gift. Upon learning of the stolen money, the couple returned the cash.
But Biden is far from alone in experiencing campaign theft from once trusted aides. In 2003 alone, Sens. Elizabeth Dole (R-N.C.) and Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) had their campaigns robbed of approximately $100,000, and Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) reported his campaign treasurer allegedly stole more than $400,000. And a former aide to Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) pleaded guilty that summer to taking as much as $160,000 from his leadership PAC.
Additionally, last July, authorities announced the arrest of a former finance director to Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) who allegedly stole roughly $200,000 from Capps’ campaign in the previous three years.
And sentencing is set for June in the case of Roger Chiang, a former fundraiser who pleaded guilty last month to stealing $360,000 from the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. All but $11,000 was recovered in that case.