Staffers say Harris asked funding approval

May 4, 2006 at 2:25 PM

WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- A rejected defense contractor's $10 million funding bid was later approved on instruction from U.S. Rep. Katherine Harris, R-Fla., former staffer members claim.

Harris insisted Mitchell Wade's request last year be given to a defense appropriations subcommittee even though the request was late and difficult to understand, reports the Orlando (Fla.) Sentinel, quoting two former staff members and Harris' former chief political strategist who did not want to be named.

"She said, 'It's important to me, so submit it,'" the report quoted a former staffer as saying. "She wanted it in."

Wade is the contractor at the center of a congressional bribery scandal that has landed a California lawmaker in prison, the newspaper reported. It said Wade, whose company had contributed thousands to Harris' 2004 congressional campaign, offered to stage a fundraiser for her 2006 Senate race.

The newspaper said Common Cause, a government watchdog, has asked the Justice Department to investigate Harris' ties to Wade. The newspaper said Harris' campaign called the Common Cause complaint "false and outrageous."

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