Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The Koch Influence...

by: Les Carpenter
Rational Nation USA
Purveyor of Truth


Special interests at play in the political arena. Money does indeed talk and what it buys is usually not good for this floundering democratic republic.

When a federal judge blocks an investigation into the possibility of illegal spending during a recall election it should raise some eyebrows, especially when the judge orders all the evidence gathered destroyed.

If you're thinking the name Koch figures into this somehow you'd be correct.

PR Watch - The federal judge who ordered a halt to Wisconsin's "John Doe" criminal investigation into spending during the 2011 and 2012 recall elections has regularly attended all-expenses paid "judicial junkets" funded by the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and other ideological and corporate interests.

On May 6, federal District Court Judge Rudolph Randa blocked an ongoing John Doe criminal probe into allegedly illegal coordination between nonprofit groups like Wisconsin Club for Growth, which spent $9.1 million on electoral ads during Wisconsin's recall elections, and the recall campaigns of Governor Scott Walker and state senators. John Doe investigations are similar to grand jury investigations, and Wisconsin Club for Growth -- and its director, Eric O'Keefe, a longtime compatriot of the Koch brothers -- asked the federal court to stop the probe, alleging it violated their "free speech" rights.

Judge Randa sided with O'Keefe, and also ordered prosecutors to destroy all evidence gathered in the investigation, an extraordinary edict in a criminal case made even more astounding by the fact that it came in the context of a preliminary injunction. The Seventh Circuit has blocked this part of his ruling; an appeal of the remainder of his decision is pending.

An analysis by the Center for Media and Democracy shows that Judge Randa attended privately-funded, all-expenses-paid judicial seminars put on by George Mason University in 2006, 2008, 2010 and 2012, according to publicly-available financial disclosure forms. (The 2013 disclosure form has been requested but has not yet been publicly posted).

The George Mason University seminars are bankrolled by a long list of right-wing foundations, like Koch, Bradley, and the Searle Freedom Trust, as well as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and corporations like BP, Exxon Mobil, and Dow Chemical. Many of these interests have long opposed limits on money in politics,... a

It is time to neuter special interests and take the influence of money out of politics.

Read the full report BELOW THE FOLD.

Via: Memeorandum

27 comments:

  1. I think this is an inevitable consequence of the wide disparity of wealth distribution among the people today.

    I remember, many years ago, I was arguing politics with a friend of mine. He was relatively conservative, a contemporary Reagan fan. He pointed out the growth in the "number of millionaires" (a popular subject some years ago) as a positive sign for the economy. I told him I thought exactly the opposite. That it was a bad sign, portending unbalance, corruption, market bubbles, political stratification, and such. He could not understand why I would say, "We have too many millionaires," thinking I was over-rationalizing.

    Well, it's been well over twenty years since that conversation, and pretty much everything I imagined has come to pass - and now "millionaire" is just a trite title. I can't imagine what these billionaires are capable of wrecking.

    JMJ

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  2. In the interest of being "fair and balanced" the article you cite is published by PRWatch, which is owned by the organization whose investigation it references: The Center for Media and Democracy. They apparently have their own issues with shadowy funding.
    https://www.activistfacts.com/organizations/12-center-for-media-democracy/

    So who's zooming who?

    ReplyDelete
  3. viburnum,
    You seem to miss RN's point. Why.Burn.Um.When.You.Can.Simply.Shred.Evidence. Fishy.Fishy.Fishy!

    This is a judge who should have recused himself. FYI: It's called Conflict.Of.Interest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know all about conflicts of interest. I'm also aware of the requirement for continuing education in the legal profession as my wife is in it. Sans evidence that the judges ticket was part of some quid pro quo there is nothing here but innuendo. Pointing out that the allegation is being made by a group funded by George Soros, complaining about a group funded by the Koch's was pointing out that those 'special interests' are in play on both sides.

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    2. Why.Burn.Um: “Sans evidence that the judges ticket was part of some quid pro quo there is nothing here but innuendo.

      Nintendo Innuendo! There is a great deal of difference between judges who preside over cases versus litigants before the bench. Judges, by ethical definition, are required to avoid any/all appearances of bias or impropriety; litigants are not similarly constrained. There is no he said/she said before The Law; so let’s not play partisan games over legal definitions of conflict of interest. Nope, doesn't wash.

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    3. In our area recently, the husband of a woman on trial for DUI paid for pizzas that three jury
      members had on lunch break. He claimed he was 'just being nice', the payment was anonymous. He has been charged with a felonly. IMO, judges are trending to the 'Judge Judy' circus type character.

      Delete
  4. By golly viburnum you have it. Special interests are in play on both sides. So, do you agree that special interests on BOTH sides should be taken out of play and their special interest money dried up?

    BTW, is your wife an attorney? If so any political ambitions?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do. Contributions should be from individual only and some reasonable limit placed on the amount. While that may present some difficulties at first, at least we'd be spared the current hypocrisy of "our money is unequivocally good and the other guys is intrinsically evil"

      As for my wife's political ambition, I hope not. She'd get mad at me for voting against her. ;-)

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  5. When I read of ridiculous excuses and rationalizations like this, it reminds me of why 99% of all lawyers give the rest a bad name.

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    Replies
    1. "Judges, by ethical definition, are required to avoid any/all appearances of bias or impropriety;"

      Sounds good, but is in fact not the actual standard which is to be found in 28 U.S.C § 455 which states: (a) Any justice, judge, or magistrate judge of the United States shall disqualify himself in any proceeding in which his impartiality might reasonably be questioned.

      Perhaps the judge in his consideration of the matter did not find it reasonable to give the weight to a potential future allegation based on innuendo predicated on a post hoc argument that you do.

      Delete
    2. Wisconsin politics have grown weird since I left the state. Governor Walker
      has had shady dealings since he was censored as a student politician at Marquette University.

      Delete
  6. Why.Burn.Um: "... a potential future allegation based on innuendo predicated on a post hoc argument ..."

    Redundancy in prose does not mask the sophistry behind this argument. In response to Judge Randa's highly unprecedented order to destroy evidence gathered in a criminal investigation, the Seventh Circuit held that Randa “overstepped his authority.” Pretzel logic – plus Randa’s failure to disclose his expense-paid conference attendance – are sufficient grounds to question his impartiality.

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    Replies
    1. Evidence is suppressed all the time in the case of illegal warrants, known as "fruit of the poisoned tree". If the investigation itself was held to be illegal, and from what I can see this John Doe investigations was little little more than a partisan fishing expedition, why should the same principle not apply?

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    2. As I suspected the ruling states:"Therefore, for all of the foregoing reasons, the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the defendants‘ investigation violates their rights under the First Amendment, such that the investigation was commenced and conducted ―without a reasonable expectation of obtaining a valid conviction"

      http://media.jrn.com/documents/doeruling.pdf

      I have a hard time finding fault with it's reasoning, but feel free to point out it's deficiencies if you find any.

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    3. I have a hard time finding fault with it's reasoning, but feel free to point out it's deficiencies if you find any.”

      Buried beneath this free speech bullshit lies one simple fact: What we used to call “graft” – pay to play – is now considered standard operating procedure. Influence over legislation, special access, special favors, special tax breaks, bid rigging – there was a time when we considered these forms of influence peddling as acts of bribery and corruption. No Longer! Since the Citizens United decision, the Supreme Court has in essence made bribery legal under the rubric of free speech. Bullshit! The idea of “pay to get in the game” has never served the public interest - and never will. Democracy is sabotaged when any powerful group leverages its power to privilege itself at the public expense. There is no way you can rationalize corruption, and the John Doe investigation is by no means “a partisan fishing expedition” as you characterize it.

      This is the ONE issue that is uniting liberals and libertarians alike - people of all persuasions who demand “equal and fair” treatment by their government.

      I believe you have run out of arguments here.

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    4. Democracy is also sabotaged whenever one powerful group abuses its authority to silence the opposition.
      There are laws against bribery and corruption which can be resorted whenever it can be proven.If spending years trolling for evidence without result isn't fishing, I'd invite you to imagine the hue and cry were the politics of the parties involved reversed.

      Defending the 1st Amendment,and all the rest of the Constitution, is never bullshit.

      Delete
    5. P.S. I'll run out of arguments when you run out of straw men

      Delete
    6. Why.Burn.Um: “P.S. I'll run out of arguments when you run out of straw men

      You’ve run out of arguments because your straw man retort is a projection. You said:

      Democracy is also sabotaged whenever one powerful group abuses its authority to silence the opposition.

      Where is your example, your reference to the specific subject of an empty allegation, insinuated via innuendo but bereft of any antecedent? Do you mean Scott Walker, a sitting governor who holds the mantle of power and abuses it by favoring his benefactors with beneficent legislation, or the Club for Growth, a political slush puddle funded by a powerful family on the receiving end of Pay-for-Play who spend hundreds of millions of dollars, not for the public good, but to further their commercial self-interests?

      Nope, you’re out of arguments. The vector of your straw man assertion points back to you and says: BULLSHIT!

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    7. It's right next to your evidence for "Democracy is sabotaged when any powerful group leverages its power to privilege itself at the public expense."

      Which 4 years of investigation has apparently been unable to uncover.

      Delete
    8. Another non sequitur, I would expect nothing less from a shill for Scott Walker and the Kochroaches.

      Delete
    9. Gee, I'm very sorry that you missed the rather obvious connection between "Democracy is sabotaged when any powerful group leverages its power to privilege itself at the public expense.", and “Democracy is also sabotaged whenever one powerful group abuses its authority to silence the opposition.” IMO both situations are intolerable.
      What actually piqued my interest here is this "John Doe" investigation nonsense. It doesn't actually investigate a crime. It investigates, apparently without benefit of probable cause, the possibility that perhaps a crime has been committed. It operates in secret, and without necessarily informing witnesses that they may be a target of the investigation. That strikes me as being as easily subject to abuse as the infamous Star Chamber, a rather despicable institution of political oppression that the British abandoned nearly four centuries ago. I find it quite troublesome that such methods could be resurrected here.

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    10. I missed nothing. Again, you have committed this fallacy - conveniently sidestepping one issue (to the point of tone-deafness) while erroneously advancing your own erroneous talking point.

      For instance, you missed “the rather obvious connection between” a judge who failed to disclose past affiliations with a defendant before the court versus conflict of interest. When the vector of time points to a past indiscretion, you have no defense to justify this: “ [A] potential future allegation based on innuendo predicated on a post hoc argument.” The past informs the present, and your presumed post hoc fallacy does not apply. Clearly, the judge failed to recuse himself. Then there is this:

      It doesn't actually investigate a crime. It investigates, apparently without benefit of probable cause, the possibility that perhaps a crime has been committed. It operates in secret, and without necessarily informing witnesses that they may be a target of the investigation.”

      Then kiss goodbye every successful prosecution that has put a crime lord or a drug lord in prison; kiss goodbye FBI investigations and court approved wiretaps; and kiss goodbye a recent SCOTUS decision that sanctioned strip searches by law enforcement even when a detainee has committed no crime. Yes, that’s right: The only crime committed by subject detainee was a PAID parking ticket that his DMV failed to record. This decision was handed down, not by the liberal wing of the SCOTUS, but by a majority conservative wing.

      Finally, if this were a supposed “fishing expedition,” as you characterized it, then why is the corrupt authoritarian Governor of Wisconsin negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors to the chagrin of his well-healed benefactors?

      You're wasting my time here.

      Delete
  7. Yes, you're correct, "evidence is suppressed all the time in the case of legal warrants." That is part of the problem, and with the help of big money justice, or the truth becomes of secondary importance.

    Accepting the status quo insures continuation of a flawed and corrupt system.

    Attorneys seem to love it as it keeps them in business. Or perhaps I should say it creates opportunity for more attorneys.

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  8. "When it comes to political speech, Randa wrote, the government may regulate only "express advocacy" — that is, ads or other communications that explicitly urge people to vote for or against a candidate. But Wisconsin Club for Growth and groups like it engage in "issue advocacy" — communications that promote or denigrate candidates without coming right out and saying how people should vote." I'm thinking the 7th District Appeals Court will find that to be flimsy legalese for
    suppressing an investigation by county attorneys and ordering the destruction of all evidence.

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    Replies
    1. I'm thinking they'll find it entirely consistent with the analysis and decision in Buckley v Veleo from whence it came, and which guidance they are obliged to follow. Judge Randa didn't reinvent the wheel here.

      http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/424/1

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    2. The priority of Buckley v Veleo did not deal with 'express advocacy" v "issue advocacy" nor the intermingling of sitting politicians cozying with such groups, IMO. 7th District will overturn, Walker will go to the SCOTUS and Scalia, Roberts, Thomas et. al. will back Randa. It's a gimmee.

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    3. "In summary, [n178] we sustain the individual contribution limits, the disclosure and reporting provisions, and the public financing scheme. We conclude, however, that the limitations on campaign expenditures, on independent expenditures by individuals and groups, and on expenditures by a candidate from his personal funds are constitutionally infirm."
      Buckley v Veleo

      Delete

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