Judicial Watch • Congressional Disgrace

Congressional Disgrace

Congressional Disgrace

JUNE 10, 2011

June 10, 2011

From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:

Congressional Disgrace

Judicial Watch’s mission is, in part, to advocate high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. The Anthony Weiner scandal is but the latest example of how these standards of ethics and morality are so lacking.

Our friend Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government broke the story of the New York Democrat congressman’s sending of unsolicited lewd photographs of himself to women on the Internet, and now it appears he was sending those pictures to underage girls. Weiner, who is married, spent a week lying (rather obviously) about his activities to the public, to his colleagues in Congress, and to virtually every major news outlet. This past Monday, he finally admitted his lies but said he would not resign from Congress. The Democrat leadership is horrified and trying to push him to resign. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi even requested an “ethics” investigation by the House Ethics Committee! Republicans, who have had more than their fair share of scandals, are happy to sit back and watch.

Most of you, Dear Readers, are not from Washington, so I won’t insult you by spending time explaining to you why Weiner should resign. Unfortunately, there is a certain amoral, cynical crowd that thinks no sexual misconduct (or related criminality) warrants resignation from public office. It used to be called the Clinton administration. It is no coincidence that Weiner is close to Clinton and that Weiner seems to consider Clinton his confessor. The Clinton example shows the way for Weiner. It also highlights the rank hypocrisy of liberals in Congress who are screaming for Weiner’s resignation when those same people applauded Bill Clinton on the day of his impeachment.

A president has an affair with a White House intern; “allegedly” sexually assaults a woman outside the Oval Office; is credibly accused of rape; hires investigators to intimidate witnesses; and lies to the American people, his cabinet, a federal court and grand jury, etc…that president didn’t resign. The Senate couldn’t even be bothered to remove him from office. Weiner must think, “If Clinton didn’t go, why should I?” Bill Clinton is an elder statesman in this corrupt city. His wife, who helped orchestrate the effort to destroy the women who were witnesses against him, is our pretender Secretary of State. The Clinton way is now the prevailing ethic for Washington, especially for liberal politicians. Weiner’s decision to try to ride out the scandal and remain in office is therefore no surprise. The term of office for too many elected officials is one long power trip. Ethics, morality, and respect for the rule of law barely register for politicians like Weiner.

This arrogance infects politicians of both political parties and every ideology. It is a sad sign of our times that the exceptions prove the rule when politicians like former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer resign in the face of scandal.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that Congressman Weiner’s office reached out to us a few weeks ago about legislation he had been pushing to combat government corruption. We had been working with his staff up until last week. Obviously, we have placed our work with his office on hold while we push for his resignation!

(And while Washington is focused on the sexual predations of a member of Congress, we should remind them of our recent lawsuit against Florida Democrat Congressman Alcee Hastings on behalf of Winsome Packer, a congressional employee. Her lawsuit alleges that Hastings repeatedly subjected her to “unwelcome sexual advances,” “unwelcome touching” and retaliation.)

What next for Weiner?

He may have resigned by the time you receive this.

Or, if the Clinton way works for him, he may be Senator from New York in six years.

In the meantime, let’s all do the obligatory work of eternally vigilant citizens and call our congressmen and let them know our opinion on Weiner. The Capitol switchboard is 202-224-3121. I assure you no call or letter to Congress is a wasted effort.

JW Defends Institution of Marriage with CA Supreme Court Amicus

The institution of marriage is under vicious attack not only by President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department, but also by liberal politicians and activist courts at the state level.

A few weeks ago, I told you we filed a FOIA lawsuit against the Obama Justice Department to find out why the nation’s top law enforcement agency reversed course and decided to not defend the Defense of Marriage Act in court.

Well, Judicial Watch also separately filed an amicus curiae brief with the California Supreme Court supporting the right of California citizens to defend the Proposition 8 law after gutless politicians failed to do so. Proposition 8, you may recall, states that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Here’s a squib from our brief:

At stake in this case is the ability of California’s public officials to thwart the will of the people of California, as expressed through the initiative process, by failing to defend an initiative in court when it is challenged. If this Court finds that the proponents of an initiative have no such recourse when elected officials fail to defend an initiative in court, California’s political officials will be given a clear opening to abuse the powers entrusted to them by the people of California in a manner that is not transparent and not accountable.

On August 4, 2010, Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. On August 16, 2010, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ordered the judgment stayed pending an appeal.

Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and current Governor Jerry Brown have both refused to defend Proposition 8 in court, prompting proponents of the initiative to seek to intervene as defendants (Kristin M. Perry, et al. v. Edmund G. Brown, Jr., as Governor, etc. et al.).

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has now asked the California Supreme Court to decide whether Prop 8 proponents are permitted to defend the law before proceeding with the appeal.

(At the same time, a federal district judge has ordered a hearing to determine whether the original ruling by now-retired Judge Walker should be voided altogether. Walker apparently failed to disclose the fact that he has been in a homosexual relationship for the past ten years prior to presiding over the case and ruling in favor of the same-sex marriage lobby. Prop 8 proponents argue Walker’s situation represents a conflict of interest. If Walker’s ruling stands, he would directly benefit should he decide to “marry” his partner. The hearing will be held on Monday, June 13. Regardless of whether he should have recused himself, Walker’s original decision was over-the-top judicial activism. He has since retired from the bench.)

When liberals lose at the ballot box they know liberal judges will bail them out. That’s the only way they can get their extreme and often anti-Constitutional agenda implemented. Even worse, these radicals have seemingly convinced President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to do their part by refusing to defend the federal marriage law.

But the citizens of California spoke loudly and clearly on Election Day 2008 when they passed Prop 8, and now they deserve to have a voice in court. (Ironically, that very same California electorate gave the majority vote to Barack Obama for president.)

Judicial Watch took these strong actions in court not only to help defend traditional marriage but also to uphold the rule of law that is under assault in California from the Governor’s Mansion and in Washington, DC from the White House.

Blago Re-Trial Recap: Blago, Rep. Jackson, Jr., and “Rhambo” Take the Stand!

Federal prosecutors are taking their second shot at former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is facing 20 criminal charges, including one count of attempting to “sell” former President Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder.

The first time around, prosecutors short-changed their own case by refusing to call key witnesses to the stand, including former Obama chief of staff (and current Chicago mayor) Rahm “Rahmbo” Emanuel and Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. Blago, for his part, never took the stand. As a result, the jury deadlocked on all but one count—lying to the FBI. This time around, however, all three have been on the stand and under oath.

The prosecution has rested its case and Blago has testified in his defense. He was described as “combative and argumentative” during cross-examination by prosecutors. Now a jury will decide the fate of former Governor Blagojevich.

Judicial Watch’s blogger Irene Garcia has been on the ground in Chicago covering the Blago re-trial. Irene’s experience includes 13 years as a reporter at the Los Angeles Times. So Judicial Watch has a great onsite resource, reporting details that the other media will gloss over during this important Chicago/Illinois/Obama corruption trial. Here are some especially exciting excerpts from her detailed reports. (Click here to read them in their entirety):

Blago on Wire Tap Tirade Against Obama: I was “Venting”

Like Isaiah in the Old Testament, Rod Blagojevich wanted to “get the rich to help the poor” when he offered to send Barack Obama’s close friend (Valerie Jarrett) to the U.S. Senate in exchange for a nonprofit set up by wealthy Democratic donors close to the president. The multi-million-dollar charity would promote healthcare for children and “working families” and, of course, Blagojevich and his pals would run it.

…Blagojevich testified that he never promised or connected any deals to the senate appointment. In fact, he testified that he was only “venting” when he blasted Obama on a secret FBI recording because he offered only to be “grateful and appreciative” in exchange for Jarrett’s appointment. “[Expletive] them,” Blagojevich is heard saying on the wire tap. That’s when he devised a plan to get Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, to help set up the healthcare nonprofit by hitting up wealthy Democratic donors like leftwing activist George Soros and investor Warren Buffett for money…

In Rambling Testimony Blago Says Bribes are Part of Politics

Trading a U.S. Senate appointment for a personal benefit is perfectly legal and politicians throughout history have committed similar acts, according to Rod Blagojevich, who took the stand for a fourth day [on June 1, 2011] in his corruption retrial. As a recent example the impeached Illinois governor offered a deal brokered between Barack Obama and his then-rival Hillary Clinton during the 2008 presidential election. Obama offered to appoint Clinton Secretary of State in exchange for pulling out of the presidential race and gave her $10 million to settle her campaign debt…

Blagojevich’s defense has two parts; he truly didn’t think he committed any wrongdoing because his actions are commonplace in politics and that he was simply following the recommendations of trusted advisers…Keeping with tradition, Blagojevich was determined to get something in return for his power as governor to appoint a senator…“I’m not giving it up for nothing,” he testified, recalling how it all went down in the fall of 2008. “I knew it was a unique opportunity.”

Blago on the Stand: “I am an f-ing jerk and I apologize”

Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich offered perhaps the most accurate description of himself just minutes after taking the stand for the first time: “I am an f-ing jerk and I apologize.” The disgraced politician rambled about his youth, Little League baseball, the struggles of his Serbian immigrant family and his childhood job as a shoe shiner. He also mentioned that history inspires him and choked up about the death of his parents, who incidentally he claims have helped him from heaven.

It was an apparent effort to win jurors over, though none showed any signs of compassion and one reporter inside the courtroom observed a juror “extremely annoyed” by all the personal history… “I would prefer to be somewhere else,” Blagojevich told jurors, adding that he was in court to tell the truth after a 2 ½-year wait. Now he feels “very liberated.”

Rep. Jackson, Jr. Denies Bribe Offer

[Jackson, Jr.], the son of the famed “civil rights” con artist with the same name denied ordering a major political fundraiser to offer $1.5 million in exchange for a U.S. Senate appointment that became available when Barack Obama got elected president. Appearing somewhat nervous, Jackson testified that he has never directed anyone to raise money for another politician other than himself and he did not offer any fund-raising in exchange for the appointment…

…Jackson aggressively pushed for the appointment when it became open in 2008 and even launched a media campaign he hoped would build public support. Prosecutors claim Blagojevich considered awarding the seat to Jackson because the congressman’s emissaries had promised to raise at least $1 million for the former governor’s campaign fund. In fact, Jackson is mentioned as “Senate Candidate 5” in the government’s original 76-page indictment, though he has repeatedly denied having any knowledge of a bribery scheme on his behalf.

Rahm Emanuel’s Gripping 5-Minute Testimony

Emanuel’s testimony was even shorter [than Jackson, Jr.’s], though his appearance alone created commotion and required heightened security around the courthouse grounds. Earlier in the trial Blagojevich’s top aide testified that, as Obama’s chief of staff, Emanuel called to suggest appointing the president’s close friend Valerie Jarrett, who ended up taking a White House job.

In court…Emanuel testified in less than five minutes that he was never asked for anything in exchange for appointing Jarrett to Obama’s vacant senate seat. Prosecutors assert that Blagojevich tried to negotiate a cabinet position or a lucrative “nonprofit” that he could run after leaving office for appointing [Valerie] Jarrett.

Blago Wiretap: “I Want to Make Money”

Blagojevich’s onetime chief of staff (John Harris) delivered damaging testimony about the inner workings of his boss’s administration, painting the portrait of a crooked politician who abused his power to advance his career…Some of the [FBI’s wiretap] recordings were played for the jury…In the tapes Blagojevich uses profanity with regularity and he flat-out says he wants to leave Illinois. In fact, in one segment he reveals being “depressed” on the eve of his reelection as Illinois governor because that meant he’d be stuck there four more years.

In another segment Blagojevich discusses appointing his wife Patti, a struggling real estate agent, to a state board that pays six figures or a lucrative job with a company that does business with the state. The bottom line is that Blagojevich was strapped for cash and he was determined to use his position to get some. “I want to make money,” he’s heard telling Harris on the tapes. Blagojevich also made clear that he wouldn’t accept a federal job from Obama if it only paid a measly $190,000 a year because he already made $170,000 as governor.

Blago Former Chief of Staff: Emanuel Pitched Jarrett

Rod Blagojevich’s onetime chief of staff, John Harris, testified about negotiations between his former boss and President Barack Obama to fill the U.S. Senate seat once held by the commander-in-chief… Shortly upon taking the stand…Harris testified that he and Blagojevich discussed the Senate appointment in October 2008 and Blagojevich asked him “What do you think I can get for this?”

Obama’s top aide, Rahm Emanuel, called Harris in 2008 to suggest the then-governor appoint Obama’s close friend Valerie Jarrett, according to Harris’s testimony…In the first trial Harris testified that Obama sent Blagojevich a list of “acceptable” Senate candidates to fill his old seat. The list included then Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth, Illinois State Comptroller Dan Hynes, Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. and Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky. Obama eventually named Duckworth to a top position at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

As many of you well know, JW has long investigated widespread corruption in the Blagojevich administration. In 2006, Blagojevich refused a JW public records request for subpoenas relating to the federal probe of his office and, in 2007, JW filed an open records lawsuit in Cook County Court to obtain them. In 2009, JW obtained public records that prove Obama and Blagojevich had repeated contact after Obama became president even though the White House has vehemently denied it.

Obama won’t talk about it and Emanuel won’t admit it (even under oath, or perhaps especially not under oath), but it is clear that Obama and his top people were wheeling and dealing with the corrupt and disgraced Blagojevich over this Senate appointment. It will be interesting to see how this all comes out this time around when the jury reaches a verdict.

And as I said, you can track Irene’s Blagojevich trial reports on our blog, Corruption Chronicles.

Until next week…



Tom Fitton
President


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