Tag Archives: Corruption

Palin cleared, for what it’s worth by now

An independent panel (emphasis this time on “independent”) has exonerated Sarah Palin of wrongdoing in the dust-up formerly known as “Troopergate.” The panel was convened by the nonpartisan state Personnel Board with an independent investigator, instead of by one of Gov. Palin’s most vocal opponents in the Alaska legislature with an investigator bought and paid for by him. (More here and here.)

Of course the first “investigation,” spearheaded by State Sen. Hollis French, did the damage it was designed to do. Exoneration now comes too late for the damage to be undone. But then again, that was the point of French’s crusade to begin with…it was never to punish wrongdoing, just to punish opposition (which, in French’s fevered mind, amounts to a distinction without a difference).

How else to explain why French’s entire set of findings rested on the perceived violation of an unenforceable non-statute (a violation which the more recent investigation found wasn’t worth the air Sen. French wasted on it)? How else to explain why no charges were filed? How else to explain why the French panel’s findings were never adopted by the Alaska Legislature, or any committee or subcommittee thereof?

There is no other explanation. Sarah Palin did her job, and abused no aspect of the office. Sen. French tried to dance around it, and fortunately nobody applauded, but then he wasn’t going for the applause, was he?

Kiss Alaska goodbye. Thank Ted Stevens.

Newly convicted Sen. Ted Stevens is digging in his heels, and this blogger sees no sign of any intent to resign, before or after the election. The man honestly thinks he won’t spend day one in jail; I don’t think he’s capable of envisioning a Senate without him.

National Republicans are abandoning him, the state party is clinging to him, his fellow senators (of both parties) are talking openly about expelling him, and local political experts are still saying he might eke out one final re-election victory.

News developments, analysis, and more wonkery below the break.

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Welcome to the bighouse, Ted. Now what?

The Congressional Indicted Caucus officially has one fewer member. Senator Ted Stevens has been convicted on all counts. To quote a certain played-out, over-the-hill cartoonist: “Guilty, guilty, guilty!” (More here, here, here, and here.) For his part, Stevens has announced he will appeal, maintaining his innocence and lacerating the prosecutors for what I admit was some pretty messed-up lawyering.

I can’t say I’ll be sorry to see Sen. Stevens go, which will come as no surprise to WitSnapper readers (who may have read my thoughts on the man here, here, here, here, and elsewhere). His Senate seat will likely go to his Democratic opponent, Anchorage mayor Mark Begich, now effectively running unopposed. Republicans now are scrambling to assess their very limited options.

Bunches of scenario-weaving below the break.

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Are Murtha’s days numbered? Polls say maybe.

Rep. John Murtha, whose claims to fame include Abscam conspiracy, slandering Marines, smearing half his own state as racist, and serving up enough pork in Congress to supply Oktoberfest, may be watching his custom-gerrymandered seat slip away.

One poll recently released has Murtha’s Republican opponent, Bill Russell, pulling within the margin of error in the upcoming election, while another poll leaked to Miz Michelle by her Pennsylvania source shows Russell with a comfortable lead.

No need to remind me that I just tossed up the world’s longest freakin’ post on how I think the polls this year are about as useful for toilet paper as they are for predicting elections. However, given that Murtha is a guy who has held this seat since 1974, who typically considers a 2-to-1 victory margin on Election Night a squeaker, who lives in a district with a 63% Democratic registration roll, and who is running in a “we all hate Republicans worse than liver worse than root canals” year, it is absolutely unheard of that Russell, a Republican Iraq hawk who won a spot on the ballot with a write-in campaign, could be giving Murtha the race of his life.

I don’t think it’s petty of me to note how anxiously I am looking forward to seeing Murtha assuming long overdue civilian status, bringing with him little but his shredded dignity, his Abscam souvenirs, his various coffee mugs from his favorite defense contractors, and his pending slander suits.

UPDATE: Commenter MommaMT (see below) is kind enough to alert me that the “worse than liver” expression is not quite apt in significant parts of Pennsylvania. I hope my substitution is satisfactory.

Transparency: Sure beats McCain-Feingold!

The McCain-Feingold “Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act” is one of the things for which I will never forgive John McCain.  Nor, for that matter, will I forgive President Bush for signing it into law, as anyone will know who watched/heard me growling obscenities at the TV while the President commented, during the freakin’ signing ceremony, on how he was pretty sure it was unconstitutional, but was going to sign it anyway because he was sure the Supreme Court would get his back (anyone remember how that turned out?).

I believed then, and still believe now, that total transparency would be far more effective in weeding out corrupt influences arising from questionable campaign contributions, combined with far more effective screening techniques for weeding out fake IDs used for multiple submissions and other contribution fraud.

Which brings me to my point.  I saw something from Captain Ed today, the looks of which I liked a whole lot.  The RNC is planning to use the filthy lucre in Barack Obama’s campaign vault as a hit point in an ad campaign calling on him to be far more transparent about his own campaign donors.

Obama first distinguished himself as a target of suspicion on this front when he went back on his word to subject himself to public campaign financing, allowing him to collect unlimited amounts of money and at the same time be really cagey about where the money was coming from.  Last month alone, the Obama campaign raised a stench-ridden $150 million.

The RNC has responded by launching a new website allowing access to a database containing the first names, last names, and amount donated of all people donating $200 or less since John McCain officially became the Republican nominee (i.e. since the convention, after which his campaign switched to public money and the RNC began running issue ads to supplement his campaign effort).  They are calling upon Obama to do the same with his donors up to $200.

Thing is, Obama is balking.  The law does not require that he do so, of course, but given his pledge to be a different kind of politician, on top of the brazen breach of his public-financing promise, people are going to wonder what he’s hiding.

For their part, journalists are having trouble thinking of a good reason why Obama would be reluctant to release the names and donation amounts of his donors.  It’s not enough information on them for other Democrats to use the database for their own fundraising purposes (which would rob Obama of a terrific power-brokering tool).  Might it be that the database might include too many donors named “Doodad Pro” or “Jgtj Jfggjjfggj”…?

Captain Ed sums up their quandary:

There really is no good reason not to reveal their donors.  If the RNC can do it with a website in the middle of a presidential campaign, then the Obama campaign certainly can as well.  Do they want to admit to a certain amount of incompetence at basic data management that will undermine their tech-savvy patina, especially after shooting themselves in the foot for making fun of John McCain’s inability to use e-mail?  I think not.

Hey, when all anti-First Amendment regulation regimes fail, transparency moves in to pick up the slack.  At least it might turn lack of transparency in fundraising, at long last, into a campaign liability, which is as it should be.

Stevens trial: It’s all over but the sequestering

Testimony ended Monday as the defense rested its case in Sen. Ted Stevens’s corruption trial, apparently back on track after a major snafu by prosecutors led a judge to threaten a mistrial three weeks ago.

Closing arguments were delivered after Sen. Stevens himself was cross-examined, by what must have been a very exasperated prosecutor.  The Los Angeles Times describes a very cagey senator who, though expensive items were left at his house by their owners and never retrieved, somehow didn’t count as “gifts:”

Public integrity attorney Brenda Morris repeatedly challenged Stevens on the witness stand Monday, saying his explanation that the items in question were not gifts, even though they remained at his homes, was not plausible.   

Morris asked Stevens about a $2,700 Brookstone massage chair delivered to his home in Washington in 2001. Stevens has taken the position that the chair was a loan from a friend. But he acknowledged on cross-examination that it remains in his home to this day.

“How is that not a gift?” Morris asked.

“We have lots of things in our house that don’t belong to us, ma’am,” Stevens replied.

I’ll bet you do, Senator.  It’s going to be tough to convince a jury, I think, that you were never billed for any of them.

Stevens is accused of accepting over $200,000 in gifts, including home renovations, furniture, and sculpture, and failing to report it to Congress’s ethics office as required by federal law.

Philly: 8,000 bad ACORN forms and counting

And Pennsylvania gets worse.  CNN is on the case (link via Hot Air), with the seemingly unstoppable Drew Griffin on his ACORN beat, which is really taking on a life of its own:

1,500 registration forms in Philadephia have been sent to the U.S. Attorney by city officials after having been deemed “problematic” (read: sufficiently obvious in their fraudulence to warrant investigation by a U.S. Attorney).  They are part of a total of 8,000 forms — a total that is growing as I write — which have been screened out by election officials as unsuitable for processing; every last one of those 8,000 forms bear ACORN’s stamp of approval.

Deputy City Commissioner Greg Voigt says his office is catching them, but admits that his staff is limited:

Are there going to be bad votes? Sure, there are going to be bad votes. There are always bad votes. Am I concerned this is a close election? Of course, I’m concerned it’s a close election. But, you have to weigh everything in terms of your capacity to find things out.

Yes, that’s pretty much the point.  Drop an avalanche of paper at the latest possible date on an office whose priority is making sure that registrations are processed before Election Day.

Voigt, in a fit of common sense, implicitly blames not the field operators, but ACORN management itself, for hiring people desperate for money (homeless people, drug addicts, recent parolees) and telling them they get paid per signature before setting them loose with a pen and clipboard full of registration forms, when the field people know they can just “fill in any old name” and turn them in.  Griffin confronts the local ACORN chairperson, Jeannette Marcano, with this systemic flaw, and her response is:

“That’s not the point.”

More at Power Line, which has a spiffy new design.