The politics of charity – Corzine discloses gifts

The multimillionaire Democrat running for New Jersey’s Senate seat has disclosed that he gave at least $100,000 to groups whose leaders or sponsors later backed his candidacy, The New York Times reported Sept. 19.

Jon S. Corzine, who for months would not disclose his charitable contributions, said the gifts were part of more than $10 million in cash and stock he gave to dozens of charities since last year.

Corzine contributed to many more New Jersey charities during that time than in the past, the Times said.

He denied at a news conference that the donations were tied to his campaign.

But the Times said that some of the information he disclosed gave “at least the appearance that charitable giving and political support were not entirely unrelated and raised questions about how forthcoming Mr. Corzine has been about his charitable donations.”

The Times cited an announcement in April by 20 members of the Black Ministers Council of New Jersey that they were endorsing Corzine in the Democratic primary, which he won after spending $35 million.

Corzine, who attended the April  announcement, was asked at the time whether he had contributed to any of the ministers or their churches.

Several ministers angrily said his only contribution had been what he put in the collection plate during Sunday services, the Times said.

But the data disclosed by Corzine on Sept. 18 showed that four months before the April announcement, Corzine’s family foundation had given $25,000 to St. Matthew’s A.M.E. Church in Orange, N.J.

Its pastor, the Rev. Reginald T. Jackson, is executive director of the Black Ministers Council, which has long been key to delivering black votes to Democrats, the Times said.

Corzine said Monday that he didn’t speak up at the April endorsement because he had not been asked about the foundation.

“I answered the question that was asked,” he said. “I wasn’t trying to deceive anyone.”

For full story, go to The New York Times.

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