DES MOINES (AP) — Special prosecutors say they dismissed charges against two men accused of making an illegal contribution to former Gov. Chet Culver's campaign because it was in the “best interest of justice.”
All charges were dropped last week against Fort Dodge businessman Steve Daniel, and illegal campaign contribution charges were dismissed against Davenport attorney Curtis Beason. Beason had advised a casino group, Peninsula Gaming, that the deal was legal.
It's illegal in Iowa to make a political contribution in another's name. Both men were to stand trial this week.
“We believe there was sufficient evidence on all the elements to proceed to trial and were preparing to do so when we were contacted by the defendants with offers to plead,” the special prosecutors, Larry Scalise and Rick McConville, said in a statement.
The case concluded with simple misdemeanor guilty pleas from Beason on a count of interference with official acts for making statements that obstructed law enforcement and one from Daniel's company, Webster County Entertainment, for accessory after the fact. Beason was fined $350, while the entertainment company was fined $100.
Months earlier, Peninsula Gaming acknowledged that it had improperly funneled $25,000 to the governor's campaign through an agreement with Webster County Entertainment.
“We accepted these determinations because, in our judgment, those responsible are being held accountable for their actions and to avoid further protracted litigation and appeals at additional cost,” Scalise said in the statement.
The cost of prosecution in the investigation was at least $181,000, according to bills submitted to the state by the special prosecutors.
Last year, all charges of illegal campaign contributions were dropped against Peninsula Gaming and two of its executive officers, Brent Stevens and Jonathan Swain. Part of the settlement with Peninsula called for the casino company to pay all costs of the prosecution of the case once it was completed.
Peninsula also agreed to pay a $4,000 fine to the Iowa Ethics and Campaign Disclosure Board as part of a settlement agreement where company officials acknowledged wrongdoing, state records show. But the settlement agreement also says that the company and its executives specifically deny that they intended to violate the law.
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