Would you take money from this man?
Scott Rothstein relished his flashy persona — the spiky hair, the Ferrari, the multi-million-dollar mansion. He was Bronx raised, Fort Lauderdale rich, and the politicians, charities and businesses that accepted his money rarely asked where it came from.
On Tuesday, a Florida judge placed Mr. Rothstein’s law firm in receivership after his partner sued and federal authorities began investigating whether he defrauded investors of up to $400 million with a Ponzi scheme based on selling legal settlements.
Even without criminal charges, the accusations are already leading to panic from Tallahassee to Miami, and what appears to be the largest giveback of donations in the state’s political history.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Republican Party of Florida, which received more than $500,000 from Mr. Rothstein, his wife and his law firm since 2002, said it would place contributions from the most recent election cycle ($148,244) into a victim compensation fund.
Minutes later, the Democratic Party of Florida said it had just refunded a $200,000 donation received two months ago from Mr. Rothstein’s firm, followed by Gov. Charlie Crist’s Senate campaign, which said it would refund $9,600 in donations from Mr. Rothstein and his wife…
In all, election records show that in the last seven years, Mr. Rothstein has contributed to more than 20 Florida lawmakers from both parties; the Republican Party in six states; and a wide range of national leaders, including Senator John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, and Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader and a Democrat, who received $4,800 in June.