Just saying the name Bernie Madoff can make any investor break out in a cold sweat. He's the man charged in a $50 billion scam, the biggest in Wall Street history.

A prominent Texas businessman is now accused in a similar fraud that could send 50,000 people across the country and the world into financial ruin.

Investigators say R. Allen Stanford masterminded an $8 billion fraud. L ike Madoff, he has contributed money to the biggest names in Washington, including senators John Cornyn and Kay Bailey Hutchison and congressmen Pete Sessions, Joe Barton and Sam Johnson.

It's Ppolitics 101 to return contributions from unsavory donors. Some are, some are not, and some haven't said.

Through political committees, family members, employees, and his own checkbook, Stanford spent $7 million on lobbyists and political contributions.

"It is clear that Allen Stanford is the thief-in-residence," said SMU political scientist Cal Jillson.

Republican Rep. Pete Sessions of Dallas was one of Stanford's favorites; he has contributed more than $4,000 since 1989.

A spokesperson said Sessions is keeping the money.

"Pete is looking down in his palms and he sees $41,000 and he says, 'Can I put this in my pocket, or do I have to give it back?' And to anyone - including Pete Sessions - $41,000 is enough money that he wants to just think about it," Jillson said.

Sen. John Cornyn took almost $20,000 from Stanford and is also keeping the money. A spokesperson told News 8 Cornyn believes in the "presumption of innocence".

In 2004, Stanford hosted Cornyn and his wife on trip to Antigua worth $7,400. The Senator described it as a "fact-finding mission."

"The apparent value, short-term, was a nice vacation," Jillson said. "I'm sure it was very pleasant, but there are no facts, relative to being senator in Texas, to be found in Antigua."

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison received $7,300 from Stanford. She told News 8 she would donate that amount to charity.

Rep. Joe Barton took $2,000 from Stanford. He did not return a call from News 8.

Some of Stanford's biggest money went to senators John McCain of Arizona and Bill Nelson of Florida. Both say they will donate the money to charity.

News 8 also contacted Rep. Sam Johnson of Plano Wednesday morning. A spokesperson called us back to say he plans to donate his $1,500 contribution to the USO.


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