TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Independent candidate Greg Orman's business dealings faced new scrutiny Wednesday in Kansas' unexpectedly competitive U.S. Senate race, as he acknowledged his friendship with a former Goldman Sachs board member sentenced to federal prison for insider trading.
Orman said he has a "very modest" investment in a company with Rajat K. Gupta, who was convicted in 2012, received a two-year sentence and was considered among the government's biggest catches in a multiyear crackdown on insider trading. Also in late 2012, according to federal court records, Orman replaced Gupta's representative on the board of New Silk Route, a billion-dollar fund focusing on investments in Asia.
A 45-year-old Olathe businessman, Orman is trying to unseat three-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts. Kansas is a GOP-leaning state, but the 78-year-old incumbent looked vulnerable after a tough primary. The Democratic nominee stopped campaigning and wants his name off the ballot, potentially boosting Orman's chances and hurting the GOP's designs for recapturing a Senate majority.
Orman hasn't yet submitted a financial disclosure report with the Senate and faces a Sunday deadline after having it extended. Roberts has received extensions in the past but filed a disclosure report in August, and his campaign called on Orman to divulge information about his finances.
Orman said he won't abandon Gupta because Gupta is a friend. Also, nothing in court records suggests the insider trading case involved Orman's businesses.
"Ultimately he made a significant mistake, and he's paying a price for it," Orman said during a news conference after a lecture at Washburn University in Topeka. "I'm someone who believes in forgiveness and redemption, and ultimately I'm not somebody who, when a friend makes a mistake, I just throw them away."
But Roberts' campaign manager, Corry Bliss, said voters are learning about Orman's "shady business dealings" and cited Orman's association with Gupta as an example.
"The more we learn about Mr. Orman's business record the more he looks like another millionaire politician trying to deceive voters and hide his past," Bliss said.
Gupta was sentenced to prison after being convicted of feeding tips about Goldman Sachs to a billionaire hedge-fund owner who also was convicted of insider trading. Gupta also was fined $13.9 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Orman said he has an investment of less than $50,000 in a company that also involves Gupta. They were listed as two of the three owners of 5 percent or more of the capital in Exemplar Wealth Management, of Olathe, on its annual reports from 2009 through 2013. Orman signed each of those reports, the latest one dated in March. The company was formed in 2008.
Greg Orman campaign: http://www.ormanforsenate.com/
Pat Roberts campaign: http://www.robertsforsenate.com
AP researcher Judith Ausuebel in New York contributed to this report. Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .