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Rosen signs on as Graham's fundraiser

By ADAM C. SMITH, Times Political Editor
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 14, 2003

A prominent Democratic fundraiser closely involved in Bill Clinton's moneyraising scandals will be leading the effort to raise money for U.S. Sen. Bob Graham's campaign for president.

Marvin Rosen, a Miami lawyer and former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee, will be Graham's finance chairman.

"His ability, his talent and his unequalled and extensive nationwide connections and friendships are legendary," Graham said in a statement. "As we are getting started and moving into our most critical summer and fall months of our fundraising, Marvin's leadership, persistence and tenacity is invaluable."

Rosen, who divides his time between Miami and New York, is among an elite group of Democratic fundraisers who have made Florida one of the top states for campaign money. A former senior partner at the law firm of Greenberg Traurig in Miami, Rosen previously served as a top fundraiser for presidential campaigns for Bob Kerrey, Gary Hart and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy.

"The fact that he has signed on with Bob Graham says a lot about how people should take a strong look at Sen. Graham as a very serious candidate and as a candidate who will raise the necessary funds to win," said a statement from Kerrey, whose presidential campaign included a number of top operatives now working for Graham.

Rosen, 62, served as Bill Clinton's co-finance chairman for Florida in 1992 and as national finance chairman for the DNC in 1995 and 1996. His fundraising before and during his tenure at the DNC entangled him in federal investigations into campaign finance abuses.

Rosen was never directly charged with wrongdoing. His law firm was fined $77,000 for soliciting campaign donations from a German developer, Thomas Kramer, in violation of a prohibition on foreign campaign donations. Published reports said Rosen solicited money from Kramer in 1994, though he said Friday he did not recall that happening.

Senate and Justice Department investigators later questioned Rosen about whether Bill and Hillary Clinton made fundraising calls from the White House in 1996. He had recommended those calls but told investigators he did not know whether they were made.

Rosen also helped plan for White House coffees with Clinton and prospective donors and recommended people to sleep overnight in the White House.

"There were certainly some mistakes that the DNC made, and there was money that was taken that had to be returned. . . . But there was nothing I did that I thought was inappropriate," Rosen said in an interview Friday.

A spokeswoman for the Graham campaign said Graham was aware of Rosen's fundraising controversies but glad to have his help.

"None of it really stuck," said spokeswoman Kristian Denny. "It was more about procedures, as opposed to outright breaking of the laws."

Rosen called Graham the strongest candidate to take on President Bush.

"Graham is being very well perceived nationally, and I think it's going to start paying dividends in a number of states starting in July," he said. "As he emerges the fundraising is going to become easier and easier."

Graham's campaign was delayed by his heart surgery, and he is playing catchup. By March 31, he had about $1.12-million. By comparison, Sens. John Edwards of North Carolina and John Kerry of Massachusetts had raised more than $7-million.

- Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report. Adam C. Smith can be reached at 727 893-8241 or adam@sptimes.com

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