Posts Tagged ‘Bribery’

Monica Conyers Sentenced to 37 Months in Prison

March 11, 2010

Well, yesterday the city of Detroit finally received some well-deserved justice.  Former Detroit City Councilwoman Monica Conyers (wife of the Congressman John Conyers), was sentenced to serve 37 months in a federal prison after she plead guilty to accepting bribes.

Her plea was for taking bribes to support a contract with Synagro, a sludge processing company; however, the trial of her former aide, Sam Riddle, also exposed a series of other payoffs.  Because of that,  U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn was going to increase Conyers’ sentence.  He had originally planned on 3 years, then wanted to move up to 4-5 years, but Conyers protested and claimed she was a victim of an overzealous media out to get her.  She wanted to take back her guilty plea, but the judge wouldn’t allow it.  Instead, he backed down on the sentencing and went back to 3 years (37 months).

Here is a video, courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

And when reporters went to talk to Conyers, again courtesy of FOX 2 Detroit:

Conyers absolutely deserved this (in fact, she probably deserved the full 5 years).  She plead guilty to the charge, and then when she saw that she as going to get a REAL punishment, she tried to back out of it.  If she wasn’t guilty, she never should have plead guilty the first time.  Detroit deserved some justice yesterday, and I am happy to see Monica Conyers going to jail.  Her crooked ways and the ways of those like her (Kwame Kilpatrick, for one) are purely disgusting, and not what Detroit needs.  Hopefully, this, along with the sentencing of Kwame Kilpatrick, mark the road to recovery for Detroit politics and an end to corruption in Detroit.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican

Illinois House Votes to Impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich

January 9, 2009

The Illinois House of Representatives, just in the past hour, voted to impeach Governor Rod Blagojevich (D), 114-1.  The only representative voting against impeachment was Milton Patterson (D-South Chicago).  Representative Elga Jefferies (D-Chicago) voted “present.”  Typical Cook County politics, if you ask me.  I commend the other 114 representatives who voted in the affirmative to impeach Governor Blagojevich.  This will no go to the Senate, who will decide whether or not to remove Blagojevich from office.

Let’s get some quotes:

  • House Majority Leader Barbara Flynn Currie (D-Chicago), chair of the House panel that held the impeachment hearings, said, “Due to his conduct, the governor has failed to uphold the oath of office.  He is no longer capable of defending our liberties.  He should be impeached.”
  • Representative Jack Franks (D-Woodstock) characterized the situation as a “plague” on the state.  He later said, “Our duty is to clean up the mess and stop the freak show that has become our government.”
  • Representative John Fritchey (D-Chicago) said, “My Illinois is not the Illinois of George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich. Our Illinois is the Illinois of Abraham Lincoln and Paul Simon and Barack Obama.”

This vote comes after the House investigation committee voted on Thursday, 21-0 to proceed with impeachment for Blagojevich’s abuse of power.  The committee issued a report, saying, “The citizens of this state must have confidence that their governor will faithfully serve the people and put their interests before his own.  It is with profound regret that the committee finds that our current governor has not done so.”

Blagojevich has remained mostly silent for the day, but is expected to release a statement at 2:00 P.M. (I’m assuming that will be in Central time).  Personally, I think for the sake of his dignity (or what’s left of it), and for the sake of Illinois, Blagojevich should resign.  He still maintains his innocence, but I don’t see how he can avoid embarrassment if he goes through with it.  I think Blagojevich will step down this afternoon (or at least announce his resignation – who knows when it’ll go into effect).

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Barack Obama “Saddened and Sobered” Over the Arrest of Blagojevich

December 9, 2008

Today, while meeting with Vice President-Elect Joe Biden and former Vice President Al Gore to discuss energy and climate change, President-Elect Barack Obama confirmed that he was in no way involved with Governor Blagojevich’s attempts to profit off of the Senate nomination that he was going to make.  Obama said that he was “saddened and sobered” about the events that transpired earlier today.  I’ll let you watch the video for yourself:

Obama did say, “I had not contact with the governor or his office, uh–and so we were–I–I was not aware of what was happening.  And as I said, it is a sad day for Illinois.  Beyond that, I don’t think it’s appropriate to comment.”

So, assuming that Obama is telling the truth (and I think he is – he has NO reason to lie, since that will only hurt him, and he already knows that there are numerous conversations that were recorded where he would be found out if he had done anything wrong), this really won’t affect Obama at all.  Again, I believe Obama is telling the truth.  I don’t see why he’d lie, because he would only eventually be found out anyway.

Hopefully the state of Illinois can move on and try to recover from this situation.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich Arrested on Corruption Charges Regarding Obama’s Senate Replacement Selection

December 9, 2008

This is currently a developing story–this morning, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich (D) was arrested and charged with corruption.  His chief of staff, John Harris, was also indicted this morning.  This is the result of a 5 year investigation of corruption allegations.

A copy of the affidavit, from the United States Attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois can be found here.  Parts of it are actually pretty funny, if it wasn’t so sad that this is a government official we’re talking about.

Here are the two counts that Blagojevich has been charged with:

Count One

From in or about 2002 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants did, conspire with each other and with others to devise and participate in a scheme to defraud the State of Illinois and the people of the State of Illinois of the honest services of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, in furtherance of which the mails and interstate wire communications would be used, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1341,1343, and 1346; all in violation of Title 18 United States Code, Section 1349.

Count Two

Beginning no later than November 2008 to the present, in Cook County, in the Northern District of Illinois, defendants ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH and JOHN HARRIS, being agents of the State of Illinois, a State government which during a one-year period, beginning January 1, 2008 and continuing to the present, received federal benefits in excess of $10,000, corruptly solicited and demanded a thing of value, namely, the firing of certain Chicago Tribune editorial members responsible for widely-circulated editorials critical of ROD R. BLAGOJEVICH, intending to be influenced and rewarded in connection with business and transactions of the State of Illinois involving a thing of value of $5,000 or more, namely, the provision of millions of dollars in financial assistance by the State of Illinois, including through the Illinois Finance Authority, an agency of the State of Illinois, to the Tribune Company involving the Wrigley Field baseball stadium; in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Sections 666(a)(1)(B) and 2.

He has been accused of saying, “I want to make money” as a result of his Senate appointment to replace President-Elect Barack Obama.  The job of replacing the former Senator falls soley on the Governor’s shoulders, under Illinois law.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald said that Blagojevich (it gets easier to type after you’ve done it a few times) “put a for sale sign on the naming of a United States Senator.”

The affidavit even cites a recording where Blagojevich said, “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain.  You hear what I’m saying.  And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.”

According to the affidavit, there are 5 candidates in the running.  The affidavit makes  it sound like Obama (who is referred to as “President-elect”) wants “Candidate 1” to get the seat.  The affidavit shows conversations between Blagojevich and Harris and others where Blagojevich wants to make a deal with the President-elect, but there are no accusations (or evidence) that Obama knew about any of this.  All the affidavit indicates is that Obama had indicated who he wanted to replace him, and that’s a perfectly legal and normal thing.

So far, the Obama transition team has not returned any phone calls to the press.

I’m going to give you some quotes from the affidavit (warning: the following does contain some harsh language) (the page numbers are the pages of the actual affidavit, not the PDF, which contains 2 introduction pages which are not numbered):

  • On November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Deputy Governor A. … “if . . . they’re not going to offer anything of any value, then I might just take it.” (p. 58)
  • Later on November 3, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH spoke with Advisor A. By this time, media reports indicated that Senate Candidate 1, an advisor to the Presidentelect, was interested in the Senate seat if it became vacant, and was likely to be supported by the President-elect. During the call, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated, “unless I get something
    real good for [Senate Candidate 1], shit, I’ll just send myself, you know what I’m saying.” … “I’m going to keep this Senate option for me a real possibility, you know, and therefore I can drive a hard bargain. You hear what I’m saying. And if I don’t get what I want and I’m not satisfied with it, then I’ll just take the Senate seat myself.” … “[the Senate seat] is a fucking valuable thing, you just don’t give it away for nothing.” (56)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH analogized his situation to that of a sports agent shopping a potential free agent to various teams, stating “how much are you offering, [President-elect]? What are you offering, [Senate Candidate 2]? . . . Can always go to. . . [Senate Candidate 3].” Later ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he will make a decision on the Senate seat “in good faith . . . but it is not coming for free. . . .It’s got to be good stuff for the people of Illinois and good for me.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states “[President-elect], you want it? Fine. But, its got to be good or I could always take [the Senate seat].” (57)
  • On November 5, 2008, ROD BLAGOJEVICH talked with Advisor A about the Senate seat. … In regards to the Senate seat, ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated “I’ve got this thing and it’s fucking golden, and, uh, uh, I’m just not giving it up for fuckin’ nothing. I’m not gonna do it. And, and I can always use it. I can parachute me there.” (59)
  • HARRIS suggested a “three-way deal,” and explained that a three-way deal like the one discussed would give the President-elect a “buffer so there is no obvious quid pro quo for [Senate Candidate 1].” (61)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH said that the consultants (Advisor B and another consultant are believed to be on the call at that time) are telling him that he has to “suck it up” for two years and do nothing and give this “motherfucker [the President-elect] his senator. Fuck him. For nothing? Fuck him.” ROD BLAGOJEVICH states that he will put “[Senate Candidate 4]” in the Senate “before I just give fucking [Senate Candidate 1] a fucking Senate seat and I don’t get anything.” (Senate Candidate 4 is a Deputy Governor of the State of Illinois). ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that he needs to find a way to take the “financial stress” off of his family and that his wife is as qualified or more qualified than another specifically named individual to sit on corporate boards. According to ROD BLAGOJEVICH, “the immediate challenge [is] how do we take some of the financial pressure off of our family.” (63-64)
  • ROD BLAGOJEVICH stated that if he appoints Senate Candidate 4 to the Senate seat and, thereafter, it appears that ROD BLAGOJEVICH might get impeached, he could “count on [Senate Candidate 4], if things got hot, to give [the Senate seat] up and let me parachute over there.” HARRIS said, “you can count on [Senate Candidate 4] to do that.” Later in the conversation, ROD BLAGOJEVICH said he knows that the President-elect wants Senate Candidate 1 for the Senate seat but “they’re not willing to give me anything except appreciation. Fuck them.” (66)

So, as of now, it’s really unclear who all is ivolved in this, but it does appear that some of the potential Senate appointees were involved.  I’ll keep updating this as we find out more abut who all was involved.

Done Reporting,

Ranting Republican
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Alaska Senator Ted Stevens Indicted; Department of Justice Makes a Statement

July 31, 2008

So, on Tuesday night, news broke that Ted Stevens (or “Uncle Ted” as he’s sometimes referred to in Alaska) (R-AK), who I love for his firey personality, but strong disagree with on many issues (pork barrel spending, his stances on abortion, to name a couple), was indicted for seven felony counts of making false statements on Senate financial disclosure reports between 1999 and 2006.  He is accused of concealing over $250,000 worth of house renovations and gifts from VECO Corp.  A copy of the indictment can be found here.

If convicted Stevens could face up to 5 years in prison for each count, but I doubt that a man of his importance would actually get that sentence (even his age could play a factor).

Representative Don Young (R-AK), is also taking some heat for fundraising involving VECO.

The founder and former CEO of VECO, Bill Allen, took a plea deal on his charges of bribing state lawmakers, and has cooperated with the FBI, which prompted the Stevens investigation.

Here are some quotes:

  • Stevens is “one of the most effective and honest legislators I have ever worked with.  He has worked diligently to serve Alaska and has fought to make life better for people in every region of our state.  I hope people will not rush to judgment and will let the judicial process work.  The process is based on being innocent until proven guilty.”  Representative Don Young (R-AK)
  • “It’s a sad day for him, us, but you know I believe in the American system of justice, and he’s presumed innocent.”  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV)
  • “The president has been working with Senator Stevens for many years, and he appreciates his strong leadership on key issues.  This is a legal matter that the Department of Justice is handling, and so we will not comment further on it.”  Dana Perino, White House press secretary
  • “All of us have times that we have to deal with that are tough.  I wish him the best.”  Senator John Warner (R-VA)
  • “I’ve known Ted Stevens for 28 years, and have always known him to be impeccably honest.”  Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA)

And here we have some longer statements.  First is the statement from Senator Ted Stevens:

Statement from Alaska Senator Ted Stevens

I have proudly served this nation and Alaska for over 50 years. My public service began when I served in World War II. It saddens me to learn that these charges have been brought against me. I have never knowingly submitted a false disclosure form required by law as a U.S. Senator.
In accordance with Senate Republican Conference rules, I have temporarily relinquished my vice-chairmanship and ranking positions until I am absolved of these charges.
The impact of these charges on my family disturbs me greatly.
I am innocent of these charges and intend to prove that.

And here is the statement from Department of Justice, given by Matt Friedrich, acting attorney general of the Criminal Division:

Good afternoon. My name is Matt Friedrich, and I am the acting assistant attorney general for the Criminal Division. With me here today is Steve Tidwell, who is an executive assistant director at the Federal Bureau of Investigations [sic]. Also with me is Victor Song, who is the deputy chief of the Criminal Investigations Division of the Internal Revenue Service.

Earlier today, a federal grand jury here in the District of Columbia returned an indictment charging United States Senator Ted Stevens of Alaska with seven felony counts of making false statements.

The charges relate to false statements that Senator Stevens is alleged to have made on his mandatory financial disclosure forms filed for calendar years 1999 through 2006.

According to the indictment, as a member of the United States Senate, Senator Stevens was required to file financial disclosure forms with the secretary of the Senate. A primary purpose of such forms is to disclose, monitor and deter conflicts of interest and maintain public confidence in the United States Senate and its membership.

These forms, which are publicly available, require the person filing them to disclose, among other things, whether or not the filer had received any gifts, or had any liabilities or debts.

As to gifts, the filer was required to disclose gifts from any single source over a particular threshold amount that varied year by year. For example, between 2003 and 2006, that threshold amount was $305, such that anything over that amount was required to be disclosed.

As to liabilities, the filer was to — was required to disclose any liability or debt owed by the filer or his spouse or dependent children in an amount greater than $10,000, as well as the identity of the individual or entity to whom each debt was owed.

The indictment charges that while he was sitting as a United States senator between 1999 and 2006, Senator Stevens accepted gifts from a privately held company, known as VECO, its chief executive officer and others.

VECO was a [sic] oil field services company and operated on an international basis. VECO was one of the largest private employers in the state of Alaska.

The gifts Senator Stevens is alleged to have received include substantial amounts of material and labor, used in the renovation of a private residence which Senator Stevens and his wife own, located in the town of Girdwood, Alaska.

These renovations are alleged to include the addition of a new first floor with multiple bedrooms and a bathroom, as well as a finished full basement.

VECO contractors and employees performed a significant portion of these renovations. For example, VECO and its employees and contractors are alleged to have provided architectural designs for the renovation; assisted in lifting up the residence and installing a new first floor; installed electrical, plumbing, framing, heating and flooring materials; installed a first-floor wrap-around deck; installed a plastic roof between the first and second floor decks; installed a heat-tape system on the roof; and performed gutter repair and electrical work.

The indictment also alleges that Senator Stevens received other gifts from VECO and its CEO, including household goods, furniture, a new Viking gas range, a tool storage cabinet and an automobile exchange, in which Senator Stevens received a new vehicle worth far more than what he provided in exchange.

According to the indictment, the total amount of gifts that Senator Stevens is alleged to have received over the duration of the offense is greater than $250,000. Also according to the indictment, these items were not disclosed on Senator Stevens’ financial disclosure forms, which he filed under penalties of perjury, either as gifts or as liabilities, and further, that Senator Stevens did not reimburse or repay VECO or its chief executive officer for these items.

I would ask you to keep in mind a few final points before I close. First, let me remind you again that what I have described today are allegations which have been made in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury.

In terms of where we are now, procedurally, in this case, we are at the very beginning of the criminal process because an indictment has just been returned.

Like any other criminal defendant, Senator Stevens is presumed innocent unless and until he is proven guilty in a court of law.

Second, in terms of answering any questions that you may have about the indictment, I’m going to need to stick to the four corners of the indictment, and I will not be able to go beyond what the indictment alleges, in answering questions that you may have about the specifics of the charges announced today.

As you may know, in about 2004, federal law enforcement agencies began an investigation into public corruption in the state of Alaska.

The fact of this investigation became publicly known with the execution of search warrants at VECO and other locations in Alaska, in August of 2006.

To date, that investigation has resulted in seven convictions. Among those who have been convicted are Pete Kott, the former speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives; Bill Allen, the former CEO of VECO; and Richard Smith, a former vice president at VECO; William Babrick (ph), a former lobbyist in Anchorage; and Thomas Anderson, a former lobbyist — excuse me — and Thomas Anderson, a former Alaska state representative.

That investigation is continuing.

Finally, I would like to thank the team assigned to this investigation, which includes prosecutors from the public integrity section of the criminal division, as well as AUSAs, assistant United States attorneys from the Alaska U.S. attorney’s office.

It also includes from the FBI agents from the Anchorage field office and from IRS CID agents from their Seattle field office.

With that, I’m happy to take some questions.

QUESTION: Matt, if Senator Stevens is convicted, what’s the maximum penalty that he would face?

FRIEDRICH: You know, I know a lot of times when a department issues releases, they will issue a statutory maximum, which is taken by the statutory max per count and multiplying it by the number of counts. That is usually something grossly in excess of whatever any sentences that ultimately comes down. So I don’t — you can look that up, I don’t want to start trumpeting what the statutory max — max would be.  [It’s 5 years per count.  7 x 5 would be 35 years.]

QUESTION: Why did the Justice Department go after disclosures as opposed to other statutes — the tax statute or gift ban statute? Why did you all go after disclosures?

FRIEDRICH: You know, in terms — I guess the best way to answer that, in terms of woulda, shoulda, coulda on other charges, again, as I alluded to, I really need to stick to what’s charged here in terms of the indictment.

The indictment is pretty detailed. I think if you take a look at it, it lays out pretty clearly what our basis is for what we brought.

QUESTION: A follow on that: Is there any kind of statute of limitation issue that dealt with what statutes you all went after in charging?

FRIEDRICH: We always need to pay attention to statute of limitations. Beyond that I’m not going to count it.

QUESTION: To put it another way, you could charge false statements. But in your press release, you alleged that he used his position on behalf of VECO, suggesting a quid pro quo. Can you help us square that?

FRIEDRICH: Let me refer you to paragraph 17 of the indictment, which alleges that at the same time that Senator Stevens was receiving these things of value — over that same time — he was also being solicited by VECO to do certain things, which he on occasion — which he or his staff on occasion did.

FRIEDRICH: The indictment does not allege a quid pro quo.

In the back. I’m sorry. In the red.

QUESTION: This is a sitting senator, and obviously it’s unprecedented to have a raid on his home. How far up the chain did you have in terms of the politics of indicting someone of this stature?

FRIEDRICH: I guess what I would say is, we followed the course that we follow internally in terms of getting indictments approved. Beyond that — beyond that, I’m not going to comment.

In the back. Yes, sir?

QUESTION: Can I ask a question, follow up (inaudible)? I know you have an IRS guy here. Why didn’t (ph) Stevens report these gifts as income. Since he wasn’t disclosing them on his financial disclosure form, why wouldn’t that be a tax violation if he didn’t do that?

FRIEDRICH: Let me answer that question this way. Without reference to this case, my understanding, as a general matter, gifts are not reportable — are not required to be reported as income on tax forms. Income and other things are, but not gifts.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) as gifts, he wasn’t disclosing these.


FRIEDRICH: On his ethics — on his — according to the indictment, on his ethics forms, yes.

QUESTION: Did he report these on his tax returns? Like improvements to a house would be income, wouldn’t it?

FRIEDRICH: I’m not going to comment on the senator’s tax returns.


QUESTION: Can you explain the difference between a quid pro quo and what’s alleged in the indictment?

FRIEDRICH: This indictment charges violations of the false statement statute, which 18 USC 1001. The bribery statute is found at 18 USC 201. And without, you know — again, bribery is not charged in this case, as I mentioned earlier. Bribery requires proof of a specific agreement of a quid pro quo of this for that. This indictment does not allege such an agreement.

QUESTION: Were there any discussions with Stevens or his lawyers about a possible plea deal?

FRIEDRICH: I’m not going to discuss — as a matter of policy, we wouldn’t discuss any such potential discussions. I wouldn’t read into that whether they have occurred or not. I simply can’t comment — can’t comment on it.

QUESTION: Matt, following that…


QUESTION: … has he made arrangements to turn himself in? What’s next?

FRIEDRICH: My understanding is he will be allowed to turn himself in. He will not be arrested.

QUESTION: Have arrangements been made for a court appearance at this point, do you know?

FRIEDRICH: That’ll be coming shortly.

QUESTION: Is he turning himself in, in D.C. or in Alaska?

FRIEDRICH: I’ll defer to the bureau on that.

TIDWELL: A summons will be issued, and it’ll be worked out, what is most convenient for everyone regarding that and regarding the initial court appearance.

QUESTION: Is he in D.C. now?

TIDWELL: I do not know if he is in D.C. now.

QUESTION: Do you know when and how he was informed by the government of the grand jury indictment?

TIDWELL: Yes. His attorney received a call earlier today. And I’ll leave it at that.

Any other questions? Yes?

QUESTION: Just, with the guidelines and the sentencing structure with someone of the senator’s age, if you could talk about how that works, if someone becomes, you know, too old to have to serve that kind of time, if he’s looking at five years under false statements?

TIDWELL: Ultimately, we are — you know, again, we are at the very beginning phase of the process to talk about sentencing. It isn’t something I really am really comfortable with.

I will say, generically, you know, ultimately that’s something that would be up to a sentencing court.

QUESTION: Can you say anything about whether the senator cooperated at all with this investigation?

TIDWELL: Again, I have no comment on that, one way or another. I would urge you not to read anything into that, one way or another. I simply can’t confirm or deny that either way.

QUESTION: Can you elaborate on what sort of cooperation of Bill Allen provided?

TIDWELL: Bill Allen — Bill Allen entered into a plea agreement. That plea agreement is publicly available to you. It’s a public record in Alaska. You can go and look at it and see for yourself what the terms of that plea agreement are. He is cooperating with the United States.

QUESTION: How long is the investigation going on?

TIDWELL: Is that — speaking of the global investigation, the federal agencies have been conducting in Alaska since about 2004, roughly.

QUESTION: Can I ask just one thing? In an election year, I wonder if you might address, just generally, whether or not the department takes special care or follows other particular procedures, in order to influence (ph) the outcome of an election, you know, given the public corruption (inaudible) in a presidential election year, just speaking generally?

TIDWELL: Let me say a few things in response to that.

One, when we bring cases as prosecutors, we bring cases based upon our evaluation of the facts and the law. And we bring cases when they are ready to be charged, and that’s what has happened here.

I would refer you, as a general matter, if you recall, Judge Mukasey issued guidance to federal prosecutors earlier this year in the form of a memo dealing with election year sensitivities.

And while I’m paraphrasing what the memo says, the gist of it is that politics should play no part — partisan politics should play no part either in what charges we bring or in things like, you know, the timing of an indictment or that type of thing.

That policy has been followed to the letter, in this case.

I really don’t have much to say at this point.  I think anybody who has this much pork barrel spending and this many pet projects on their record is asking for legal trouble.  When you try to give money to your district and companies in your district, bad things happen – intentionally or unintentionally.  Innocent until proven guilty, but the voters may not be saying this in the primary.  For now, I’ll hold off on commenting on the primary until some more details come out.

I hope the allegations are false (I never like seeing people commit crimes), but if they’re true, he has to be punished.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Minneapolis Teen Tries to Sell His Vote on Ebay, Now Faces Charges

July 7, 2008

Well, here’s a story you don’t hear too often.  A 19-year-old from Minneapolis (a student from the University of Minnesota) has been charged with a felony (bribery, treating, and soliciting) in the Hennepin County District Court on Thursday for putting his (presidential election) vote up on eBay.  The bidding started at $10, and he would vote for the candidate of the winning bidder’s choice, or he would not vote at all if that’s what the winner wished.  He said that he would take a picture of his ballot to prove it.

Posting under the name zeprummer612, Max P. Sanders wrote “Good luck!  You’re [sic] country depends on You!”

The Minnesota Secretary of State’s Office received a criminal complaint, and reported the issue to prosecutors, who in turn subpoenaed eBay for the information that lead to Sanders.  Sanders is being charged under a law from 1893 which makes it illegal to offer to buy and/or sell a vote.

John Aiken, a spokesman for the prosecutor’s office told reporters, “We take it very seriously.  Fundamentally, we believe it is wrong to sell your vote.  There are people that have died for this country for our right to vote, and to take something that lightly, to say, ‘I can be bought.’  It’s a real shame.  I can imagine the conversations being held in American Legion Clubs and VFWs about whether this is a joke or not.  There are two things going on here in terms of why it’s a crime.  One is the notion that elections should be a contest of ideas and not of pocketbooks — at least not in the sense of straight-out ‘I can buy your vote.’  The second notion is that everybody gets one vote and you don’t get to buy another one.”

Sanders has claimed that it was merely a joke, but I doubt this.  It goes into too much detail about proving that he voted the way the bidder would want for it to be a joke.

Sanders faces a maximum of 5 years in prison plus $10,000; however, the prosecutor’s office has said that they will not push for jail time.  This is actually one case where I do not advocate for the maximum penalty.  I think he should be fined, and possibly jailed, but for no more than a few months.  I would support a ban on him voting however, but Minnesota law does not ban ex-felons (felons who have served their sentence – technically that felony is still on the record) from voting.

At first, I had to debate with my libertarian side if this should be legal.  Then I came to the conclusion that if we allowed for this, it would corrupt the election process.  Of course, that is the reason that we have the Electoral College, and cases like this are prime examples of why we still need it.

The listing got no bids, and Sanders has since removed the listing.

For reference, here’s a map of states and their policies on felons voting (I wanted to do a post on this months ago, but it got caught up in the qeue and I just scrapped the idea for the time being):

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Ohio Attorney General: “Stupid” & “Lying” Limbaugh Won’t Be Prosecuted

March 28, 2008

The Ohio Attorney General’s office reached a decision on whether or not to prosecute Rush Limbaugh the Great (Republican) for voter fraud.  He orchestrated the plan “Operation Chaos” and encouraged Republicans to change parties and vote for Clinton to prolong the Democratic fight.  The problem is that in Ohio, you must pledge allegiance to that party under penalty of law.

So, here’s what Leo Jennings, Attorney General Marc Dann (Democrat)’s spokesman, said, “We have no intention of prosecuting Rush Limbaugh because lying through your teeth and being stupid isn’t a crime.”  He said regarding voters, “You can’t just make the assumption that someone is lying.”

Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (Democrat), commented by saying, “I think it’s very bad form, but I think most voters are intelligent enough to make their own decisions.”

And lastly, here’s a previous comment from Limbaugh, who has not yet responded to the statements: “I wouldn’t worry about it.  Look at this as a badge of honor, ladies and gentlemen.  If anybody gets indicted, if anybody has to go jail, it will be me — and I’ll do my program from jail for the short amount of time I will be there before I am excused and the charges dismissed.  I had the temerity, ladies and gentlemen, to tinker with a tradition, a liberal Democrat tradition: voter manipulation.”

I find the comments from Dann’s office interesting, considering his involvement with the corrupt Cafaro family (J.J. Cafaro bribed Congressmen to help his aviation company), whose daughter (Capri Cafaro, president of the company) replaced him in the state Senate when he went on to become Attorney General.  Or what about the time that Warren Tribunereporter Steve Oravecz asked about Dann getting his daughter a job with the state?  What was it that he told the reporter?  Oh yeah, “Hey Steve, write this down. Go fuck yourself!”

That, my friend is public obscenity – which IS a crime that we can all prove that you committed.

Anyway – there’s no way that this case could’ve been proved against Limbaugh – at the most, conspiracy to commit voter fraud, but I don’t think that even that would’ve gone through, just because you can’t prove it without some people showing that they would’ve crossed over.  He could say it was all a joke, and without any other evidence, the case would crumble.

I will say at this point, that Limbaugh shouldn’t have encouraged voters in Ohio to cross over – I’m fine with it in Texas, but not Ohio.  The law must be upheld, and although I think the Attorney General and his office are being a little self-righteous considering some of Dann’s controversial moments, Limbaugh was in the wrong here.  He’s still a great American though!

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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