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Opinion: Corrected: Caroline Kennedy not using the Chicago Way to gain her Senate seat

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Out in Illinois, Democratic Gov. Rod Blagojevich faces charges that he wanted to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

But one thing is clear from Caroline Kennedy’s history of campaign donations. She’s not buying the New York Senate seat she’s seeking.

Kennedy has given only one donation in this decade to a New York politician. That was $1,000 to Christine Quinn, Speaker of the New York City Council, according to a review of Kennedy’s political donations in the New York State Board of Elections.

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Among the politicians who have received none of her money is New York Gov. David Paterson, the Democrat who would fill the seat left vacant by Clinton, once she’s confirmed as President-elect Obama’s secretary of State.

The daughter of President Kennedy has given no money to her presumed rival, New York Atty. Gen. Andrew Cuomo. But others in the Kennedy clan have given to him. Ethel Kennedy, widow of Robert F. Kennedy, gave $20,000 to Cuomo in 2002.

Caroline Kennedy has given more -- but still modestly -- to federal candidates, $29,000 since January 2000, a review of Federal Election Commission records shows.

She’s given only minor amounts to sitting senators: $3,000 to Hillary Clinton’s 2006 run for the Senate; $2,000 to Christopher Dodd; $4,000 to John Kerry; and $2,500 to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Kennedy, along with cousin California First Lady Maria Shriver, became one of Obama’s high-profile backers in the presidential race and helped picked his VP running mate, Joe Biden.

But Kennedy started out apparently backing Clinton, giving her $2,300 in June 2007.

In September 2007, she gave $2,300 to Obama, then another $2,300 for his general election last July. A month later, in August, Clinton returned a second $2,300 contribution to Kennedy. Clinton still has a multimillion-dollar campaign debt.

Correction: Clinton was required to return the second $2,300 donation because it was made to Clinton’s general election campaign fund. Clinton returned thousands of donations in August, including the one made by Kennedy.

-- Dan Morain

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