A Pennsylvania man convicted in a notorious corruption case played host to former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a fundraiser last night, despite the Giuliani campaign's public efforts to distance itself from the man.
Bob Asher, a major Pennsylvania Republican player as a national party committeeman, was one of four hosts for the $2,300-a-person event. Asher was convicted in 1986 on charges stemming from a bribery scheme intended to win a $300,000 state government contract. The case gained national attention when his co-defendant in the case, Pennsylvania state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, committed suicide at a televised news conference. Asher was sentenced to serve one year in prison.
At that time, Giuliani was a federal prosecutor in New York, building a reputation by locking up criminals for similar corruption-related misdeeds.THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS
Giuliani came and went from last night's fundraiser without comment, ducking down in his car as ABC News cameras attempted to photograph him arriving.
Asher made himself more available than the candidate.
"That's 21 years ago, so we'll let that go. I did what I did, and I've paid my dues for it," Asher told ABC News outside the event last night. The event was closed to the press. "I've worked for [former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom] Ridge, [Sen. Arlen] Specter [R-Penn.] and all of the rest of the Republicans," Asher noted.
Asher was also the Pennsylvania state finance chair for the Bush-Cheney re-election campaign in 2004. He is chair of one of the largest political fundraising groups in the state, the Pennsylvania Future Fund Political Action Committee.
Asher announced earlier this year he had agreed to be Giuliani's Pennsylvania political chairman, according to the New York Times, although the Giuliani campaign disputed that.
When asked about his role in the campaign last night, Asher said, "There's been no one named in Pennsylvania to any post here at all."
Maria Comella, a spokeswoman for the Giuliani campaign, said that Asher has assisted with fundraising efforts in the state, including several fundraisers yesterday, but does not hold an official title. She would not disclose how much Asher had raised.
The intimate dinner, attended by local GOP officials, was held at the home of Valerie and Alvin Clemens in Philadelphia's exclusive western suburbs. Asher, whose name was listed first among co-hosts on invitations for the event, tried to downplay his role in the affair.
"I'm just one of the people here," he told ABC News.
Asher is one of the heirs to popular Asher's Chocolates and now serves as co-chairman of the company. After he left prison, Asher became the Pennsylvania committeeman for the Republican National Committee, a position he holds today.
Justin Rood contributed to this report.