It started with a warehouse in the town of Milford. Now the investigation of Delaware businessman Christopher Tigani has expanded from a shady land deal to $200,000 in illegal campaign contributions
to everybody from state legislators to Vice President Joe Biden.
Tigani is the former president of NKS, a local beer and liquor distributor that was supposed to build a new warehouse on state-owned land in Milford a few years back. That deal turned into a black eye for him and the state alike when somebody actually read the contract
and noticed that the rent on 10 acres of land was set for less than the monthly payment on a decent house, with a 66-year term. That turned into an inquiry, and then a lawsuit from the state attorney general
to kill the contract. Federal agencies got involved when it turned out nobody ever asked for permission to build NKS its own entrance onto a federal highway.
For a while, the assumption was that NKS got a sweet deal because Tigani was a personal friend of then-Governor Ruth Ann Minner,
and the fallout from this and other DelDOT land deals
led to the resignation of transportation secretary Carolann Wicks in early 2011. This week we found out about the money. Tigani pled guilty in federal court
to paying his employees to give $160,000 in cash and physical gifts, usually of beer and liquor, to candidates at every level in the 2004 election, governor included. Another $60,000 went to what appears to be Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in 2007, although the court has refused to identify the candidate in question. He also admitted to tax evasion totaling $361,000.
Some of those contributions also went to Biden’s son Beau, the state’s attorney general, who is now recusing himself and his office from the investigation.
Full disclosure: I work for a Delaware newspaper and have covered the Tigani/NKS story. None of the above links go to any site I work for or have ties to (which is why most of them go to Delaware Online; there are few publications in Delaware with an online presence). Others have done far more complete coverage of the topic than me, which is why I've chosen to post this here instead of Projects.