SPECTER: RAISED FUNDS A WEEK BEFORE CHANGE

Senator Arlen Specter must have really been on the fence about changing political parties’right up to the end.

On Monday, April 21st’one week before he announced his shift from the Republican party to the Democratic party’Specter had a fundraising lunch in New York.

The lunch was hosted by Wilbur Ross, owner of private investment group W.L. Ross (part of Invesco, an even bigger major global investment firm) at the Algonquin Hotel on West 44th St.’ The lunch took up the largest banquet room, on the 2nd floor of the fabled hotel.

Ross, who was once married to New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey, has been a regular contributor to Republican candidates like John McCain and Rudolph Giuiliani.

As a political donor, Ross has a lot in common with Specter: According to public records, Ross gave to Democrats during the Clinton years, then switched to Republicans during the Bush administration. Invesco also contributes heavily to Republican causes.

In 2005, Wilbur Ross, Jr. was ranked #347 on the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. He has been heavily invested in the coal and steel industries in Specter’s state, Pennsylvania, over the years. His returns have been plentiful, too, in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

Major Republican donors were said to be in attendance at the lunch. It’s unknown how much money, if any, was raised. But one guest said afterward that he was ‘shocked’ when, a week later, Specter switched sides.

Neither Ross nor his press rep has responded to calls or emails. Specter’s office pointed out that in his announcement on April 28th the Pennsylvania senator said he’d return any campaign funds to disgruntled supporters. So far, according to reports, several donors have made the request including fellow Congressmen.

Author
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. He wrote the Intelligencer column for NY Magazine in the mid 90s, reporting on the OJ Simpson trial, as well as for the real Parade magazine (when it was owned by Conde Nast), and has written for the New York Observer, Details, Vogue, Spin, the New York Times, NY Post, Washington Post, and NY Daily News among many publications. He is the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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