Two Ns, Many Political Donations


(Photo: Forbes.com)

Cincinnati’s own Chiquita Brands International is in the headlines for paying a $25 million fine to the federal government after admitting it gave cash for years to a known Colombian terrorist group that traffics in cocaine as protection money. But a review of other federal documents raise troubling questions about Chiquita’s former owner, billionaire financier Carl Lindner Jr., and his family.

Lindner, his wife, sons and other family members are well known as big-money political campaign contributors, mostly to conservative Republican candidates and causes including President Bush. A review of documents filed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), however, show that the family also gives money to candidates under the similar name of “Linder.”

The pattern of listing campaign contributions without the second “n” in the family’s name isn’t limited to one or two reports, and appears to be a pattern going back several years.

According to documents filed with the FEC, it’s not just one “Linder” error, and it’s not just Carl Jr.’s last name being misspelled repeatedly; the same error shows up with a variety of other Lindner family members, including his wife, Edyth, and his son, Carl III.

For example, “Carl Linder Jr.” gave $500 to the congressional campaign of Geoff Davis in 2001; a person listed as “Carl Linder III” gave $4,000 to the U.S. Senate campaign of David Vitter in Louisiana in 2004 and $1,000 to Virginia Gov. George Allen’s senate campaign in 1999. There are multiple other instances in the reports over the years, as well.

During the 2004 election cycle, the Lindner family contributed tens of thousands of dollars, funneled through each member of the family, to various conservative groups, including the Republican National Committee and several GOP politicians. Among the donations, Lindner gave $250,000 to the Swift Boat Veterans PAC, the group recently fined for inaccurate TV commercials smearing the military service record of Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry.

Because a number of donations involve a systematic misspelling of the family’s name, it’s unclear whether the listings are merely a clerical error made for years or an effort to conceal donations as a method for avoiding federal campaign contribution limits.

Current campaign contribution limits include $2,300 per election to a federal candidate or the candidate’s campaign committee and $5,000 per calendar year to a political action committee (PAC), which can support candidates or issues.

Also, contributors may give $10,000 per year to a state or local party committee and $28,500 per year to a national party committee. The total cap on campaign contributions from an individual for a two-year period is $108,200.

In presidential campaigns, individuals may contribute up to $2,300 for the entire primary campaign period, not $2,300 for each state primary in which the candidate runs.

Carl Lindner Jr. is founder of the United Dairy Farmers convenience store chain and a former owner of the Cincinnati Reds. Along with his three sons, Lindner holds a 42 percent stake in the American Financial Group. On Forbes magazine’s 400 richest people list in 2006, Lindner was ranked 133rd, with a value of $2.3 billion.

Surely that’s enough to afford a proofreader.

— Kevin Osborne

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11 Comments on “Two Ns, Many Political Donations”

  1. Marilyn Says:

    Wow, it just gets better and better. I was hoping CB would pick up on this and give us their take…

  2. Brian Says:

    I’m sure HE can afford a proofreader, but I see their name misspelled ALL THE TIME. It may not be his family’s fault. I’d bet a clerical error rather than a big conspiracy, even if his politics stink.

  3. Jasper Lamar Crabbe Says:

    The Lindners contribute an enormous amount of money to politicians and PACs. It seems likely that they have a dedicated employee (a lawyer and/or financial services expert) who handles their donations and tracks them. Presumably the person/people who manage these contributions for the Lindners are regularly seeing their FEC filings. How is it that this convenient spelling error goes undetected for so long?

    Good stuff, Kevin. Keep digging!

  4. Marilyn Says:

    Brian, let’s just say – for the sake of argument – that the contributions in the name of Linder are a big ole co-inky-dink / clerical error. Does that negate his giving cash to the Colombians?

  5. The Dean Says:

    Once again, Kevin Osborne starts with interesting questions, then leaps, absent any meaningful evidence, to fantastical conclusions. The Lindners are complicit in breaking campaign contribution laws? What a load of crap! Tell us, Osborne. Do you pay federal taxes? Are you therefore not complicit in the slaughter of children in Iraq by the U.S. military?

    (source)

  6. JP Says:

    Paying protection money almost has me convinced that they were the victim. Since 1954 the private armies have been used to protect the interests of United Fruit and Chiquita in the other Americas. The names have changed through the years but the game is the same. What interests do they protect and from whom? The answer can be found by looking at the activities of these private terrorist organizations. They remove people from their land through terrorist activity and disappear labor organizers that might demand better conditions or decent wages. The lack of worker rights for the sake of profit is immoral, although probably legal since they own the politicians and write the laws for them. Irresponsible corporate behavior must be exposed and you have taken the hardest step, the first one. Thank you Kevin

  7. The Dean Says:

    In all seriousness, it looks like there are other spelling errors in regard to the Lindner/Linder thing.

    I found Lindner and Linder contributions coming from Cincinnati, Cinncinati, Cincinatti, Cincinnatti, Cinti, and Loveland.

  8. Chiquita Republic Says:

    [i][url=http://www.counterpunch.org/krebs03162007.html]Chiquita, Its Workers and Colombia’s Death Squads[/url][/i] by Al Krebs, CounterPunch, 3-16-07

  9. Chiquita Republic Says:

    http://www.counterpunch.org/krebs03162007.html
    Chiquita, Its Workers and Colombia’s Death Squads by Al Krebs, CounterPunch, 3-16-07

  10. Pinky Says:

    Nothing surprises me anymore… There appear to be no depths that people will fall to in their devotion to ruin America…

    And they call Democrats traitors…

  11. Howard Roark Says:

    Campaign contribution forms are filled out by campaign staff and/or the campaign Treasurer. Individual contributors do NOT fill these out.


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