WASHINGTON - He gave to Republicans. He gave to Democrats. And often, he gave big.
Public records show that Albert Lord has long made donations across a broad swath of the political spectrum, but one quiet contribution has now embroiled the retired Sallie Mae CEO in the case surrounding U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah.
Lord, who is not charged with any crime, is known to be "Person D," the donor prosecutors say gave a $1 million loan that allegedly was illegally laundered into Fattah's 2007 mayoral campaign. Fattah, a Democrat, improperly arranged to pay back some of the loan using charitable donations and federal grants meant for education programs, prosecutors say.
How much Lord knew about the alleged scheme is not clear. Fattah has said he is innocent, and Lord is not named as a conspirator in the charges announced Wednesday.
Lord did not return a message and his attorney declined to comment for this story.
In the past, Lord, 69, has described himself as someone who does things big.
And he has the resumé to back it up, from making big changes in student lending as Sallie Mae's chief executive, to shaking up Pennsylvania State University's board of trustees and his record of generous campaign giving.
Once wealthy enough to lead a group trying to buy the Washington Nationals baseball team, he has made dozens of federal contributions over the years and gave the Fattah mayoral campaign's exploratory committee $100,000 in 2006.
Described as hard-charging and demanding, "Al" Lord spent much of his adult life in the Washington suburbs, but has long-standing ties to the Philadelphia region and a deep love for Penn State.
"You don't have to agree with what he says," said Anthony Lubrano, a fellow member of the Penn State board of trustees, "but you have to respect that when he comes to the table he comes prepared."
Lord's style raised eyebrows in a 2007 Sallie Mae earnings call that made headlines for its abrasiveness. After reportedly snapping at analysts on the call, Lord said as it wrapped up: "There's no questions. Let's get the [expletive] out of here."
Congressional lawmakers chided Lord in 2007 when he sold $18.3 million of company stock days before President George W. Bush proposed a subsidy cut. A Sallie Mae spokesman at the time called the sale's timing "completely coincidental."
A Republican, Lord gave to John McCain and Bush when each ran for president and to the GOP's national committee. But he also gave to the Democratic committee trying to win the Senate.
In June 2004, Lord gave $25,000 to the Democrats' House campaign arm and the next year he gave the same amount to the Republican equivalent, federal records show. He gave $550 to Texas Republican Louie Gohmert, one of the most strident tea party lawmakers in Congress, but also donated to one of the Senate's leading liberals, New York's Charles Schumer.
In 2013 and 2014, Lord gave $750,000 to the Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign of Rob McCord, the former state treasurer who pleaded guilty this year to attempting to use his position to extort potential donors.
Lord's quest to join Penn State's board and help restore the school's image after the Jerry Sandusky sex-abuse scandal spurred his McCord donations, some of the biggest in the state's history.
"When I do things, I do them in a big way," Lord told the Harrisburg Patriot-News in January, explaining his support.
Lord turned to McCord after then-Gov. Tom Corbett declined to put him on the Penn State board. He said at the time that McCord understood the importance of helping the school recover.
Lord was deeply angered by the report by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, which placed some blame on the school's administrators and football-adoring culture for the Sandusky scandal.
After failing to win over Corbett, Lord campaigned among alumni and was elected to the board in April 2014.
"We must restore the reputations of Penn State, Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley, and Gary Schultz, and make these names a part of Penn State's future," Lord wrote to friends, fellow alumni, and members of Penn Staters for Responsible Stewardship.
(Among Lord's political donations were $4,000 to Scott Paterno, son of the late coach, who ran for Congress but lost to Democratic incumbent Tim Holden in 2004.)
Lubrano said Lord brings a welcome skepticism.
"His presence makes the board a better governing body because of his willingness to challenge the veracity of the information we're given," he said.
A day after Fattah's indictment, Lubrano was one of the only people willing to talk about Lord.
More than a dozen calls to fellow Penn State trustees and political insiders in Washington and Pennsylvania yielded few who said they knew him or were willing to talk about him on the record.
One congressional aide said Lord was often lobbying for the interests of Sallie Mae, which worked in a heavily regulated field and at times faced criticism for the profits it made while lending to needy students.
Lord lived for a time as a child in the Abbotsford Homes in Philadelphia's East Falls section, the son of an Inquirer typesetter. He earned a degree from Penn State's Smeal College of Business and graduated from the university in 1967.
In the 1970s, he was treasurer at the holding company for First Pennsylvania Bank. He left in 1981 for a job at the company that would become Sallie Mae, rising to the company's executive ranks.
Lord, who now lives in Naples, Fla., spent much of his professional life living in the Washington suburbs and then Annapolis, Md., while working for Sallie Mae.
At one time one of the highest-paid executives in the Washington area, Lord retired from Sallie Mae in 2005 but later returned, leaving for good in 2013.
In between - in 2007 - Lord "experienced acute financial difficulty," according to prosecutors, and called in the remaining $600,000 owed by Fattah's campaign operative, Tom Lindenfeld.
Fattah, prosecutors allege, cooked up an illegal scheme to pay Lord back.