WASHINGTON – Howard Dean (search) is crying foul over John Kerry's (search) acceptance of donations from former New Jersey Sen. Robert Torricelli (search), who was investigated by the Justice Department for giving huge gifts to a former donor who pleaded guilty to fund-raising abuses.
Torricelli has admitted to raising $100,000 for Kerry, and last week took part in a donor meeting with the Democratic front-runner in New York City.
"I have raised some money for John. I have known him for many years and probably have contributed to most members of the Democratic caucus," Torricelli told The Associated Press. "I don't have a role in the campaign nor am I seeking one ... I am happily retired from political campaigns. But I certainly support his candidacy."
The Kerry campaign argues there is nothing untoward in taking Torricelli's help.
"John Kerry and Bob Torricelli served together in the Senate for many years," Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter said on Friday. "Many of Kerry's current and former Senate colleagues are supporting his bid for the presidency with the united goal of defeating George Bush."
The Dean camp, however, says Torricelli's fund-raising provides more evidence that Kerry is a captive of special interests and a Washington insider.
Torricelli recently gave $50,000 to a group called Americans for Jobs and Health Care (search), a Florida-based group with ties to Rep. Dick Gephardt that ran ads attacking Dean in Iowa.
The ads used video of Usama bin Laden (search), and suggested that if Dean were elected president, Al Qaeda would continue to thrive. At the time, Fox News reported that the group was not comprised solely of Gephardt supporters but included partisan Kerry supporters as well.
Americans for Jobs and Health Care spent $633,000 on anti-Dean ads and about one-third of the money came from labor groups that had backed Gephardt. A third came from people and organizations that back Kerry.
Torricelli abandoned his Senate re-election campaign in 2002 when it became clear that allegations of fund-raising abuses and other problems had so wounded him that he could not win. The Justice Department ultimately concluded it did not have enough information to indict Torricelli. The Senate Ethics Committee (search) gave Torricelli a stiff rebuke.
Fox News' Carl Cameron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.