A major donor to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) was forbidden from giving to the Democratic National Committee due to a past conviction on three counts of wire fraud following his electrocution of a horse to collect an insurance payout.
George Lindemann Jr., a Miami-based real estate developer and son of billionaire New York investor George Lindemann, was vetted earlier this year as a possible donor to the committee and to attend an event with President Barack Obama, according to an exchange contained within the latest batch of hacked DNC emails released by Wikileaks.
Clayton Cox, the DNC’s regional finance director in Florida, Georgia, and the Midwest, asked for a background check into Lindemann Jr. on May 9.
The same day, Chadwick Rivard, a senior research and compliance supervisor for the DNC, returned an extended report into Lindemann Jr.’s checkered past.
Lindemann Jr., a former equestrian who had Olympic aspirations, hired a man named Tommy Burns in 1990 to kill his horse, named "Charisma," by electrocution so he could cash out on an insurance policy worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The insurance company ruled that the horse had died from natural causes. The plan had temporarily worked, as he was issued the $250,000 policy for the horse’s life.
However, federal investigators later uncovered a conspiracy between Burns and another person, named Barney Ward, to kill numerous horses for money. The practice allowed the horse’s owner to then collect the insurance policy, as Lindemann Jr. had done.
Burns provided information to the FBI on Lindemann Jr. It was discovered during this process that a man named James Druck had taught Burns how to electrocute horses to cash in on the insurance payout. Druck was the father of Rielle Hunter, the former mistress of John Edwards, who was born Lisa Druck.
During the trial, Lindemann’s defense argued that the $250,000 insurance payout did not matter to Lindemann Jr. given his family’s net worth. A U.S. attorney later described Lindemann Jr. as a "a very wealthy kid that has a toy that he doesn't like or gets mad at and throws it on the floor and stomps on it."
Lindemann Jr. was convicted on three counts of wire fraud in 1995 for his role in Charisma’s death. The judge presiding over Lindemann Jr.’s case ordered him to pay $500,000 in fines and $250,000 in restitution. He was sentenced to 33 months in prison, the maximum sentence.
Alan Reed, another DNC compliance officer, responded to the email chain saying, "I vote fail….again."
Wasserman Schultz, who recently resigned as chair of the DNC following the release of the Wikileaks emails, accepted tens of thousands in donations from Lindemann Jr. to her leadership PAC and campaign committees in recent years.
Lindemann Jr. gave a $5,000 donation to Democrats Win Seats PAC, the leadership PAC of Wasserman Schultz, in February 2014. More than a year later, in April 2015, he contributed another $5,000 to the PAC.
Additionally, he gave $2,600 to Wasserman Schultz’s primary campaign in 2014 and added another $2,400 to her general election. He also combined to give $3,500 to the Democratic Executive Committee of Florida that year.
Lindemann Jr. has donated to both political parties throughout the years. He had failed previous background checks from the committee.
Wasserman Schultz’s office did not return a request for comment on the donations by press time.