By Jonathan Chait in New York Magazine
In the wake of Mitt Romney’s 2012 defeat, Republicans had at least one consolation: a deep bench of presidential contenders, including several governors with a proven ability to win majorities in blue states. Unfortunately, a large number of them appear to be criminals.
Former Virginia governor Bob McDonnell was handsome, popular, andwidely touted as a top-tier contender. Now he is facing up to 30 years in prison for illegally accepting gifts and loans from a businessman. The next presumptive front-runner was New Jersey governor Chris Christie. Today Scott Raab and Lisa Brennan report that indictments are coming against four of Chris Christie’s subordinates, and that prosecutors believe they will ultimately indict Christie personally. Meanwhile, prosecutors today also alleged that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker — possibly the new front-runner in the wake of Christie’s demise — directed a “criminal scheme” to violate the state’s campaign finance laws.
The Walker allegations center around a widespread legal fiction governing independent expenditures. Donations to candidates can be regulated, but campaign finance laws have opened up a vast loophole for outside groups to spend money on elections, as long as they pretend they’re not actually part of the campaign. Walker apparently forgot to pretend. Prosecutors quote an email he sent to Karl Rove, who coordinates lots of Republican independent expenditures, explaining that his deputy, R.J. Johnson, would direct the independent expenditures:
Bottom-line: R.J. helps keep in place a team that is wildly successful in Wisconsin. We are running 9 recall elections and it will be like 9 congressional markets in every market in the state (and Twin Cities)
Violating the spirit of campaign finance laws is really easy, as long as you take a few basic precautions such as not sending an email describing your control of expenditures that are supposed to be outside your control.
The facts just keep getting better. Interesting article that shows where the conservative Supreme Court, the Republican party, the Teaparty, and money have all taken politics in America. Add to this the fact that Rick Perry is going from state to state explaining why the GOP needs to get involved in Criminal Law Reform.
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