Tuesday, March 31, 1998

FBI is latest to investigateMilton Holt

The bureau is looking into his
political fund-raising reports

By Ricard Borreca

The finances of former state Sen. Milton Holt, already under review by the state attorney general and the campaign spending commission, have now drawn the interest of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The FBI has inquired about Holt's political fund-raising reports filed with the state campaign spending commission, the Star-Bulletin has confirmed.

Robert Watada, the commission's executive director, declined to comment about the FBI's queries. A local FBI spokesman also declined comment.

Watada would only say that none of Holt's campaign reports have been subpoenaed by the federal government.

Holt, who is now a special projects officer with Bishop Estate, is already being investigated by the campaign spending commission after reports showed $43,000 missing from his campaign fund.

Holt has said the money was not lost, but simply an accounting error due to a new computer program.

Watada, however, said Holt has until 4:30 p.m. tomorrow to file an explanation for the missing money.

The commission can then either accept the report or file a complaint against Holt.

In the course of investigating Bishop Estate's expenditures, the attorney general has found $21,000 in strip club, restaurant and Las Vegas casino charges by Holt on Bishop Estate credit cards.

Holt was unavailable to comment today.

He lost his Senate seat in the 1996 Democratic primary election. Four years before that, he was accused by his Republican foe of campaign spending abuses.

Between 1988 and 1992, Holt paid his family members $27,000 to help in his Senate campaigns. Some of the money went to car loans for his brother, clothes and donations to family organizations.

Holt's opponent, Earle Seaman, filed complaints with both the state and federal tax offices, saying that Holt's campaign money was collected to be used for political campaigning, not other purposes.

At the time, the IRS said it did not routinely audit campaign expenses, and a state tax spokesman said it leaves the matter up to the campaign spending commission. Commission rules at the time did not specifically prohibit Holt's spending.

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