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Ex-Aide Says Harris Hid Subpoena

August 3, 2006 GMT

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) _ Rep. Katherine Harris’ floundering Senate campaign received a grand jury subpoena from federal investigators, but she kept it from her top advisers, prompting several staff members to quit when they found out, a former aide said Wednesday.

The Justice Department is investigating Harris’ dealings with Mitchell Wade, a defense contractor who pleaded guilty to bribing another congressman.

Harris, a Republican, has trailed Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson in most polls. Fundraising has been slow, GOP leaders tried desperately to find another candidate, and core campaign staff members have quit in recent months.


Some Republican leaders have warned that Harris _ the former Florida secretary of state who played a key role in the 2000 recount that gave George W. Bush the White House _ is so hated among Democrats that she could drag down the entire GOP ticket.

In June, the Harris campaign received a legal bill in June for thousands of dollars that contained a reference to ``DOJ subpoena,″ according to the aide, who spoke with The Associated Press on condition of anonymity to avoid hurting his career.

It was only then that Harris disclosed that the campaign had received the Department of Justice subpoena, the aide said.

About two weeks later, the aide and several other campaign staff quit. The disclosure was one of several factors that led to their departures, the aide said.

Harris was reached on her cell phone Wednesday by the AP, but said she had a bad connection and referred the call to her campaign office.

Campaign spokeswoman Jennifer Marks said Harris is cooperating with the investigation but is ``not a target.″ She would not comment further.

The receipt of the subpoena was first reported by The Tampa Tribune, which spoke with former campaign manager Glenn Hodas. Hodas, the third person to hold the position, resigned after three months on the job, saying Harris was uncontrollable.

Wade admitted giving Harris $32,000 in illegal campaign contributions. Harris sought $10 million in federal money to help Wade’s company, MZM Inc., could set up a Navy counterintelligence program in her district. The request was rejected.

Harris has said that she was not aware of the illegal contributions and that she was only trying to bring high-wage jobs to her district.

In February, Wade pleaded guilty to bribing former Rep. Randy ``Duke″ Cunningham, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, in exchange for help in getting $150 million in Pentagon contracts.