Mystery Donor Gives Away $900K and Vanishes

James Williams did it all from his little apartment
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2012 4:10 PM CDT
A mystery man with a cane. Possibly James Williams?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – How can a small apartment in Queens, New York, be the source of nearly $900,000 in political donations? This odd center for financial activity is the home of 64-year-old James Williams; not much is known about him except that he's reclusive, he walks with a cane, and he likes ordering in Chinese food. And he has started at least 25 companies, most of them based in his apartment. So the New York Times tried to uncover a little more.

Turns out his donations have earned him VIP status in New York's Republican circles. But there's a dark side—like the apparent phoniness of his companies and a federal probe into a possible real estate scam perpetrated by Williams. What's more, his own PR rep can no longer find him. Williams “was one of those guys who had his hands in everything,” says a former New York City official. “You never knew what was real. The next time he’d come, he’d tell you he had a time machine.” (Read more political fundraising stories.)

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