Skip to comments.McBride's chief fund-raiser reinvents himself again [McAuliffe's father-in-law]
Posted on 09/29/2002 5:32:12 AM PDT by summer
Election 2002: McBride's chief fund-raiser reinvents himself again
Sunday, September 29, 2002
By MIKE SCHNEIDER, Associated Press
ORLANDO Richard Swann stood at the bleakest point of his career a decade ago.
Federal regulators had taken over the savings and loan company that he led and nurtured in the 1980s. His collapsed S&L cost taxpayers more than $500 million and Swann was forced to declare personal bankruptcy, disband his law firm and sell the 17-room home where he had raised his four children.
Such a business disaster would have ended the career of many executives. But it didn't sink Swann, who has glided between the worlds of business and politics for more than two decades with his share of controversy.
After keeping a low profile the past few years, Swann, 62, is back in the game. He has risen to a new prominence as the chief fund-raiser for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Bill McBride, a newcomer to running for office. Not since his days as President Carter's top finance man in Florida has Swann played such a big role in a major campaign.
"I'm surprised I've gotten involved with this one as much as I did," Swann said. "I've just kind of gotten deeper and deeper."
Swann's rebound has been helped by a strong will, a wealth of contacts and always having enough balls in the air that should one drop, there's always another to chose from, friends and acquaintances say.
"He's resilient," said Irby Pugh, an Orlando lawyer and Democratic fund-raiser. "It's to his credit that he has been able to pull it out and he's doing well again."
It also hasn't hurt that Swann's son-in-law is Terry McAuliffe, current chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Swann has been known to telephone McAuliffe while his son-in-law is playing golf with former President Clinton.
"He has my cell phone number, which no other finance chairman of any other gubernatorial or Senate candidate has," McAuliffe said.
Swann's roots grow deep in central Florida. He was born into a well-connected Orlando family and went to college and law school at Duke University.
The soft-spoken Swann, described by friends as a family man and Southern gentleman, made a name for himself in national political circles as an early supporter of then-Georgia Gov. Jimmy Carter's 1976 presidential campaign.
Swann met his future son-in-law during Carter's 1980 re-election campaign. Swann had gone to the campaign's Washington office looking for an assistant to help put together a fund-raiser at Sea World Orlando. That person ended up being a fresh-out-of-college McAuliffe, who wore a T-shirt and running shorts to his first meeting with Swann, who rarely is not dressed in a suit.
McAuliffe ended up living in Swann's house for weeks and later traveled around the country raising money for Carter's unsuccessful campaign. McAuliffe married Swann's daughter, Dorothy, several years later.
"Richard would introduce me to the people and I would work them for the next six weeks to get the money out of them," McAuliffe said.
Swann's Carter connections allowed him to meet high-powered players as MCA chief Lew Wasserman, who oversaw the Universal Studios entertainment empire. Swann would become Universal's Florida lawyer and helped broker the company's purchase of land in Orlando for a theme park resort. Swann also entertained at his home such dignitaries as King Constantine of Greece and Jordan's King Hussein.
Then in 1990, his world crumbled. Facing bad loans and debt, Swann's American Pioneer Savings Bank was taken over by federal regulators in 1990 at a time when large numbers of savings and loans were going under.
Swann and his business partners blamed the collapse on the effects of tax reform on real estate loans. The savings and loan, which at one time had more than $2 billion in assets, also owned an insurance company, a home building company and a commercial construction concern.
Swann said his family and close friends lost $55 million in cash. He hunkered down for about five years, trying to rebuild his law practice, and stayed away from politics.
"It was a very bleak story in my life," he said.
Everyone who was involved with a savings and loan had to lay low for a while because they were tainted just by their association with the industry, said Edward Haddock, Swann's former partner.
"I don't think Richard ever gave up his interest or willingness to help candidates he believed in," Haddock said. "But he was distracted substantially for a period of time."
Swann resumed his real estate law practice and eventually purchased the historic home that had belonged to his wife's parents.
At the same time, McAuliffe became Clinton's chief fund-raiser. But Swann and McAuliffe's business relationships led to an investigation by the Department of Labor over real estate deals in which the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers had invested. No wrongdoing was found.
It wasn't the first time that Swann's business dealings had been probed. He was called to testify to Congress in 1989 about a business deal involving former House Speaker Jim Wright. Nothing came of the investigation.
Swann's big return to politics has been with McBride, whom he threw his support behind in March 2001.
"He came over for dinner one night ... and he said 'I think you should run for governor and if you decide to do it, I will help you,'" said McBride, who has known Swann for 25 years.
McBride said he knew of Swann's experience with American Pioneer but acted surprised when told that Swann had filed for personal bankruptcy several years ago.
"That bankruptcy part, I didn't know that but it doesn't change my mind about anything," McBride said. "He's an honest, good man. He's someone that I, everybody trusts."
Swann helped McBride raise more than $3 million in the primary race. He has been effective at bringing aboard money people from the campaigns of McBride's primary opponents, Janet Reno and Daryl Jones, said McAuliffe, who stayed neutral during the primary but has since made fund-raising calls for McBride.
Swann has his work cut out for him since McBride spent most of his money during the primary and Republican Gov. Jeb Bush already has five times as much in the bank.
Politicians and friends say Swann is up to the challenge.
"The bottom line is performance," said U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla. "And he performs."
Is McLawyer (AKA "McMumble") planning to run FL the way his chief fundraiser ran his collapsed Savings & loan before filing for bankruptcy?
A good description for a pair of grifters.
McBride said. "He's someone that I, everybody trusts."
Another description for grifter.
This is great stuff! What a riot! What amazes me the most is that they brag about it.
He was not disbarred or disciplined for his role in the S&L debacle? Was there a mortgage involved in the historic home purchase after the bankruptcy?
The more I read, the more the plot thickens...
Swann helped bring us 24% home mortgages back in 1978. How lovely.
The above article reads like a B movie script for a two-bit conartist. Oh wait, that's Swann's life story.
A perfect match Swann - McbriBe. Two sleazy low lifes living on the edge of the law. Reno never had a chance. The deck was stacked against her from the gitgo.
JEB can beat this guy hands down as long as he can bring us a clean election.
This morning, on tv it was announced that black coalition leaders are endorsing McLawyer this week. See what they're doing?
Here's my sound bite for JEB BACKERS: STOP LYING TO FLORIDIANS CANDIDATE MCBRIDE! We need to say this, put this on banners, our cars, on fliers. It is based upon what we heard the other evening. LIE, LIE, LIE, LIE, followed by: "The Governor knows this."
The democratic ticket CANNOT BE TRUSTED but democratic voters and swing voters, we should continue to reach out to them. FV
McBrideOfMcAuliff's law firm isn't any too healthy financially, either. McLawyer did nothing but wheel and deal and bloat the firm's assets, and when he left, the bottom fell out - as is normal.
Not to mention that Swann's aiding Jimmy "The Peanut Man" Carter get elected will probably not go over well with the Cuban American population.
He's going to have a harder time than Al almost did...the underhanded tactics of Al's handlers and allies like Je$$e and his Rent-a-Riot, have given Florida voters a rather unfortunate reputation. Whenever the words "Florida" and "election" are used together in the same sentence anymore, practically everyone in the country's ears perk up. You can almost hear the collective groan, "Oh, here we go AGAIN."
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.