Obama campaign may return funds from MF Global's Corzine

Wed Nov 2, 2011 3:54pm EDT

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* Campaign says will return money if Corzine is charged

* MF Global chief was major fundraiser for Obama

By Kim Dixon

WASHINGTON, Nov 2 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama's re-election campaign would return the donations made by embattled MF Global chief Jon Corzine if he were charged with any wrongdoing, a campaign official said on Wednesday.

Corzine, who is at the center of a storm over the securities firm's bankruptcy this week, was a major fundraiser for Obama. The former Goldman Sachs chief has raised or "bundled" donations of at least $500,000 so far for Obama's 2012 re-election effort.

Corzine himself has donated the maximum that an individual can give for a presidential campaign, according to campaign finance records. He held a lavish $35,800-a-head fund-raising dinner for Obama at his home in April.

A campaign official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Obama's campaign would return the donations from Corzine as an individual if civil or criminal charges are brought against him.

"Politicians, like business people, are risk averse," said Jim Kessler, a policy analyst at the Democratic-leaning think tank Third Way. "Until people know more of what is going on they will distance themselves from Jon Corzine."

Neither MF Global nor Corzine have been accused of any wrongdoing, though investigations are under way by several U.S. regulatory agencies.

Bad European debt trades made by MF Global pushed the company into bankruptcy, but the heat on the firm now is concentrated on why it cannot account for large sums of customer money that was supposed to be kept separate from other funds, sources told Reuters.

MF Global said in court this week there are no shortfalls in its brokerage accounts.

Obama has a frosty relationship with Wall Street because of the regulatory overhaul he ordered following the 2007-2008 economic meltdown. But bankers and other financiers remain prominent among his big financial backers. (Editing by Christopher Wilson)

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