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I know Hillary Clinton is hard up for dough, but should her campaign really have taken money from a suspected (and subsequently convicted) kickback conspirator? In June of 2007, attorney
Melvyn Weiss donated $4,600 to Clinton’s campaign, the legal maximum. By then Weiss was reportedly under investigation for paying kickbacks to people who served as lead plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits that netted his New York law firm hundreds of millions of dollars in fees.
Weiss was indicted on those charges three months later. He agreed to plead guilty this March and did so formally in April. According to a story at cbsnews.com, the “kickback scheme allowed the firm’s attorneys to be among the first to file litigation and secure the lucrative position as lead plaintiffs’ counsel.” The story said that Weiss’s firm “made an estimated $250 million over two decades by filing legal actions on behalf of professional plaintiffs who received $11.3 million in kickbacks,” and that Weiss was ordered to “pay nearly $10 million in fines and forfeiture penalties, and could be sentenced to up to 33 months in prison at a later hearing.”
You might think Clinton’s campaign would have returned Weiss’s money long ago, certainly by last September when he was indicted. But Federal Election Commission finance reports show no record of Weiss getting his money back. (My colleague Taimur Khan called Clinton’s press office for comment but so far has received no reply. I’ll update this story if we hear back.)
Incidentally, Weiss also donated several thousand dollars to Senator Russ Feingold, whose campaign returned it all last fall. Congressman Charles Rangel’s campaign got $4,600 from Weiss last May, which it has kept. (Given Rangel’s fundraising practices—he once asked lobbyists to underwrite his birthday party—that isn’t too surprising.)
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”