Just hours before the University of Florida Gators administered a 51-21 trouncing of LSU last year, Gov. Bobby Jindal was rubbing elbows with well-heeled Florida supporters at a fundraiser-cum-tailgate party held in a private home north of Gainesville.
One of the co-chairs of the October 2008 reception was none other than Scott Rothstein, then a prominent Fort Lauderdale attorney, now accused of a fraud worth $1 billion.
He contributed the maximum $5,000 to Jindal, and his firm, Rothstein, Rosenfeldt, and Adler ponied up another $5,000, according to Louisiana campaign finance records. Jindal, a potential GOP presidential hopeful, is the latest addition to a lengthy list of pols who hit up Rothstein for money.
A huge football fan, Rothstein is known in south Florida for teaming up with Miami Dolphins Hall of Famer Dan Marino on sundry charity drives (video of the two is here). His law firm even gave out football-shaped luggage at a VIP party before the national championship game this year.
It was just one of a recent string of Jindal fundraisers around the country gathering money for his state campaign war chest but also designed to bolster his national credentials. He is up for reelection in 2011.
Politicians in Florida have been falling over each other to give back Rothstein’s donations, now tainted by the allegations that he operated a scheme selling phony legal settlements. We’ve asked Jindal’s office about their plans for the $10,000, and we’ll let you know when we hear back.
Jindal’s relationship with the accused fraudster went gone beyond just the one pre-game meeting.
GOP operative Roger Stone, a former business associate of Rothstein’s, tells TPMmuckraker he remembers Rothstein huddling with Jindal at the Republican Governors Association conference in Miami, held the month after the football game. And the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported at the time that Rothstein himself hosted another fundraiser for Jindal in Miami, also around the time of the RGA meeting.
Late Update: Jindal’s office says he will give the money to a victims compensation fund.