Dee Ann Divis: Rep. Taylor’s role in loans questioned

Business,Dee Ann Divis

A Washington watchdog group has requested an investigation this week into whether the Justice Department gave Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C., preferential treatment during a bank-fraud investigation.

The Aug. 15 letter from Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington to the Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility asserts the congressman was not properly questioned during an investigation into millions of dollars in fraudulent bank loans. The loans were made to Taylor’s friend Charles Cagle and his family through the Blue Ridge Savings and Loan of Asheville, N.C., which was founded by Taylor.

"We’ve been on the issue of Charles Taylor for a while and his ethical problems keep getting more and more severe — and the congressional House Ethics Committee keeps doing nothing about it," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. "The more I read, particularly about the bank fraud, the more outrageous it seemed to me that Charles Taylor had never been questioned in connection with that."

The bank loans are also mentioned in what CREW called a "complaint" released Tuesday in the hope it would trigger a member of Congress to request an investigation by the House Ethics committee. In addition to the question on the loan investigation, the complaint links Taylor to the Jack Abramoff scandal. CREW said Taylor and Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont., wrote a letter supporting a request by the Saginaw Chippewa Tribe for federal funding for a school, and links the letter to contributions from the tribe and Abramoff and his firm.

Taylor’s office did not respond to calls requesting comment on the CREW allegations.

Hillary clinton gets backing from D.C.-area donors

Contributors in the Washington area were among the top supporters to Sen. Hillary Clinton’s campaign fund for re-election to the U.S. Senate, according to totals compiled by PoliticalMoneyLine from campaign finance disclosure documents.

During the second quarter, individual supporters in Maryland donated $132,875 to the Clinton, D-N.Y., campaign, followed closely by supporters in the District who wrote checks for $124,787 — a tally topped only by supporters from New York, California and Massachusetts. Virginia came in ninth with contributions of $80,630.

The trend continues one seen in previous quarters. The District has been the fourth-highest source of individual contributions for Clinton with more than $902,000 donated so far. Maryland and Virginia are eighth and 10th place with $673,000 and $533,000 respectively.

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