Friday, December 16, 2005

Grand Old Police Blotter: Corruption Fatigue Edition

The main problem with chronicling Republican corruption is finding the time needed to catalog the criminality.

Here's a holiday sampler of what's happening this week.

Let's start with James Tobin, the G.O.P. operative whose criminality has been underwritten by the RNC:

A jury convicted a former national Republican official of two telephone harassment charges for his role in a phone-jamming plot against New Hampshire Democrats on Election Day 2002.


Tobin, 45, of Bangor, Maine, was regional political director to the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee in the 2002 election, the year of a closely watched Senate race between Democrat Jeanne Shaheen and Republican John Sununu. Sununu defeated Shaheen, 51 percent to 46 percent. Tobin was President Bush's New England campaign chairman last year, but resigned when the allegations became known.

He faces a maximum seven-year prison term and $500,000 in fines when he is sentenced in March....

Separately, state Democrats are pursuing a civil lawsuit, which they hope will expose knowledge or approval of the scheme by GOP officials higher than Tobin. Republicans have insisted it was conceived and executed at the state level.

In August, the Republican National Committee acknowledged it had spent more than $722,000 to provide Tobin with lawyers from a high-powered Washington law firm. Party officials who said they ordinarily would not discuss such matters said they underwrote Tobin's defense because he was a longtime supporter and assured them he had committed no crimes.

If the RNC incurred nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in attorneys fees well before trial started, the bill through trial must be twice or three times that. One wonders if the RNC will abandon Tobin if an appeal is contemplated. And which will cost more, cutting Tobin loose or keeping him in the fold.

Then there's Crime Lord Conrad Black, master of toady David Frum, an aristocrat done in by technology best known for capturing petty theives at the Seven-Eleven:

A seven-month-old videotape showing Conrad Black, his chauffeur and his personal assistant taking 13 boxes of documents out the back door of his company resurfaced yesterday as U.S. prosecutors laid four new charges against the media tycoon.


Originally charged last month by the U.S. government with eight counts of fraud, Black faces the prospect of much more prison time if convicted on the new charges. They add a maximum 55 years to the potential 40-year jail sentence Black, 61, was already facing.

The new obstruction-of-justice charge relates to the removal of boxes on May 20 from the 10 Toronto St. office of Hollinger Inc., the holding company Black used for years to control Hollinger International.


According to the indictment returned yesterday by U.S. District Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, Black, his assistant Joan Maida and chauffeur John Hillier loaded the boxes into the limo, which was then driven away by Black's driver.

Black "corruptly concealed, and attempted to conceal, records, documents, and other objects with the intent to impair their availability for use in official proceedings, namely the (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) proceeding against Black, the criminal investigation of Black by a federal grand jury and the pending criminal proceeding against Black before a judge and court of the United States," the indictment charges.

Nailed like a punk slipping a forty-ounce into his Celtics windbreaker.

And don't forget the pride of the College Republicans, Adam Kidan. He, too, is guilty, guilty, guilty:

In August, Mr. Kidan and Mr. Abramoff were named in a six-count federal indictment charging conspiracy, and wire and mail fraud in connection with the purchase of the casino boat company, SunCruz Casinos.

Under the new agreement, Mr. Kidan said he was guilty of lying to lenders, with Mr. Abramoff, to qualify for a $60 million loan to buy the $147.5 million fleet.

The Abramoff in question is philanthropist, op-ed puppeteer and lessee of Conrad Burns' soul, Jack Abramoff.

Messrs. Tobin, Black and Kidan: Coming soon to a federal prison near you.

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