Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Sher and Smear Alike

Various wingnuts are drooling over the allegation in this article claiming that then-former President Carter allegedly requested leniency for a Nazi war criminal living in the United States.

Here's what we know about the accuser:

Now, the 56-year-old [Neal] Sher is unemployed. And, on Aug. 28, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit stripped him of his D.C. law license. The move comes roughly one year after Sher conceded he had made "unauthorized reimbursements" of travel expenses from the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, where he served as its chief of staff. He resigned from that position in June 2002.


In 1998, several European insurance companies reached an agreement with Holocaust survivor groups, state insurance commissioners and the Israeli government to pay the families of Holocaust victims, who had earlier been denied insurance benefits. The insurance companies pledged millions of dollars, and the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims was created to help evaluate claims and disburse the money. Sher was hired as its chief of staff.

The commission came under fire early on for taking too long to process claims and for its refusal to make its finances public. In May 2001, the Los Angeles Times, citing internal commission documents, claimed that the commission had spent $30 million on salaries and outreach efforts, while paying out just $3 million. Later that year, a House committee held hearings at which Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., threatened to subpoena commission records. Commission Chairman Eagleburger, however, maintained that Congress had no authority over the group.


Two and a half months after the divorce was filed, The Baltimore Sun published a lengthy investigative article on the commission's expenditures. The article, which relied upon internal commission documents, reported that Sher had claimed to spend $136,653 in travel expenses in 1999. The article stated that the airfare alone for trips to Rome and Berlin often was $5,000 or more per trip. The article also noted that Sher had quit the commission just a few weeks prior to the article's publication.

Some details about what happened between Sher and the commission are still unclear. Eagleburger, in his statement to Legal Times, said that Sher was placed on administrative leave after admitting to the improper travel expense reimbursements. The commission's outside counsel, Thomas Howard of the D.C. office of Ballard Spahr Andrews & Ingersoll, conducted an internal investigation. Howard's findings were then reviewed by one-time FBI director and former federal Judge William Webster III of the D.C. office of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy. Sher paid back the commission, including the money it cost for the group to conduct the inquiry, and quietly resigned. According to Eagleburger, Webster recommended that no further action be taken.

Let's look closer:

However, the respondent [Neal Sher] admitted in his affidavit of consent to disbarment, which was annexed to the petitioner's notice pursuant to 22 NYCRR 691.3, that on 20 occasions between August 1999 and March 2002, while serving as the chief of staff and chief counsel to the ICHEIC, he filed claims for reimbursement which contained deliberately inflated statements regarding expenses incurred for air travel. The respondent admitted retaining $106,426.53. This sum was the difference in the price of coach class airfares that he actually purchased, as opposed to business class fares that he submitted as claims for reimbursements and which he was authorized to purchase, but did not.


Based on the evidence adduced, the motion and cross motion are granted to the extent that the Special Referee's report is confirmed. Notwithstanding the mitigation advanced by the respondent and the remorse expressed, he is guilty of serious professional misconduct which involves dishonesty, fraud, deceit, and misrepresentation. This misconduct warrants a one-year suspension.

Stealing from a Holocaust survivors' compensation fund. Dishonesty, fraud, deceit and misrepresentation.

Being a wingnut means never having to say you're a gullible dipshit.

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