Saturday, August 09, 2008

Obama's ethics . . . and ethical advisers

A recent letter I received from Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch begins with a note that "no presidential candidate in recent memory has received as little scrutiny on matters of ethics as Barack Obama."
As one example of what I mean, be sure to read . . . about the Senator's vice presidential search committee.

The fact that Obama adviser James Johnson was forced out because of sweetheart mortgage deals and his role in the accounting scandals at Fannie Mae did make headlines nationally.

But as we note in our Verdict story, far less coverage has been given to the fact that longtime Clinton operative, Eric Holder, was also part of the V.P. selection team. . . .

During his years at the Clinton Justice Department, Holder was at the center of many scandals related to the corruption of the Clinton presidency, including the Marc Rich pardon, Chinagate, and the Elian Gonzalez raid. It is a scandal that this is someone Sen. Obama turned to for advice on selecting a running mate!

I've often said, in reference to Bill and Hillary Clinton, "what is past is prologue."

Well, people who care about ethics in government should be very concerned that Barack Obama turned to people like James Johnson and especially Eric Holder to help select the person who may well be "one heartbeat away" from the Oval Office.

Sen. Obama's ethical judgment about people like James Johnson and Eric Holder is troubling enough to citizens who want to see Washington cleaned up.

(And many Americans still can't figure out how Sen. Obama could sit and listen to the hate-filled, anti-American sermons of his former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, for 20 years.)
But what has me most concerned are the issues of corruption and ethical lapses that are related directly to Sen. Obama himself.

Judicial Watch does not endorse or oppose candidates for public office.

But unlike the mainstream media, we will not ignore serious allegations of ethical misconduct by a leading candidate for the presidency.

(That goes for John McCain, too, against whom we have filed an official complaint with the Federal Election Commission regarding a suspicious foreign campaign fundraising event!)

Right now, it is critically important that your Judicial Watch continues to investigate issues like:

** Sen. Obama's close financial and personal ties to convicted criminal Tony Rezko;

** His stock dealings and related votes in the U.S. Senate;

** His pork-barrel earmarks for friends, family members, and campaign contributors;

** His relations with domestic terrorist William Ayers;

** And his missing or non-existent official papers from his years in the Illinois State Senate.

In the Judicial Watch Verdict article, we read the following:
Soon after securing enough delegates to claim the nomination, Obama announced that former Fannie May Chairman James Johnson, former Clinton deputy Attorney General Eric Holder, and Caroline Kennedy (daughter of the late President John F. Kennedy) would lead his search for a vice presidential running mate. Obama's decision led to a barrage of negative press coverage following news reports linking Johnson to a mortgage scandal.

According to a recent article in Bloomberg:

"Former Fannie Mae Chairman James Johnson said he has quit Senator Barack Obama's vice presidential search committee after the Wall Street Journal reported he may have received preferential mortgage terms from Countrywide Financial Corp."

The Washington Post also reported that Johnson allegedly benefited from shady accounting practices at Fannie Mae when earnings were manipulated in order to give executives large bonuses.

As is typical for Washington, Johnson was ditched by Obama not because Johnson did anything wrong (which he may have), but because he was a "distraction." In fact Obama initially called the questions about Johnson's ethical problems a "game."

While Johnson has received a fair amount of scrutiny, the press has yet to fully detail the misdeeds of another of Obama's vice presidential vetters, Eric Holder.

A regular readers of the Verdict may recall, Holder, while serving in the Clinton Justice Department, lobbied for a pardon deal on behalf of fugitive financier Marc Rich, who fled the United States in 1983 to avoid prosecution on racketeering, wire fraud and tax evasion charges. (Denise Rich, Marc Rich's ex-wife, paid large sums of cash to the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton's senate campaign, and the Clinton Presidential Library to help grease the wheels.) Or Rich was one of about 140 criminals who received pardons from Bill Clinton in the last hours of his administration on January 20, 2001.

Moreover, as Janet Reno's Deputy, Eric Holder was responsible for much of the infamous corruption at the Clinton-Gore Justice Department. It was Holder who planned the illegal and violent, pro-Castro raid on the Gonzalez family home in Miami. Holder also suppressed the Justice's department's investigation of Chinagate, a Clinton-Gore scheme to sell access to Communist Chinese operatives in exchange for campaign contributions. Reno's Justice Department was one of the worst and, frankly, corrupt in modern memory, and Holder was at the center of that storm.

"Obama has told the American people he's a different kind of politician, one that is above politics as usual," said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. "But he seems to have a troubling blind spot when it comes to the ethics of his cronies."

Supposing the Judicial Watch charges are even halfway legitimate, I find them extremely distressing. What has happened to the "Fourth Estate"? I thought it had a job to do. Though Carlyle said that anyone with a tongue is a member of the Fourth Estate, it has always been my understanding that the press is supposed to hold the government--and members of of government--accountable. I get the distinct impression that the major news outlets are doing less and less of this kind of watchdog service.
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