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Bar Mitzvah Fireworks Cause Trouble for NY Congressman

A NY congressman solicited donations from constituent who sought his help in obtaining permits for bar mitzvah fireworks celebration
By Rachel Hirshfeld
First Publish: 8/16/2012, 4:26 PM

fireworks
fireworks
Reuters

A New York Congressman allegedly solicited donations from a constituent who sought the lawmaker’s help in obtaining government permits for his son’s bar mitzvah fireworks celebration.

Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) reportedly asked for donations from hedge fund manager Eric Semler of Southampton, N.Y. after Semler appealed to the politician for assistance in securing government permits for his son’s bar mitzvah bash, Politico reported.

Semler claims that he had received a request from the congressman’s staff to make a contribution of up to $10,000 to Bishop’s reelection campaign, before the lawmaker had completed the work on his behalf.

After Semler obtained the necessary permits, he made a $5,000 donation to Bishop’s re-election campaign. Semler reportedly never made prior donations to the congressman campaign.

Rep. Bishop, told Politico that Semler voluntarily gave the money as a show of appreciation, adding that Bishop’s campaign staff solicited the hedge funder, not Bishop himself.  

According to the House Ethics Manual, “a solicitation for campaign or political contributions may not be linked with an official action taken or to be taken by a House Member or employee, and a Member may not accept any contribution that is linked with an action that the Member has taken or is being asked to take.”

“I did my job," Bishop said, according to Politico. "I was asked to fix a problem for a constituent that I did not create. I fixed it,”

“I never directly solicited him. We told him how he could help. And then a month later, he helped,” he added.