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On Friday a jury quickly acquitted former Puerto Rican Governor Anibal Acevedo Vilá on all of nine counts of election funding violations. The Philadelphia Inquirer reports:
The acquittal was a major blow to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the governor in an election year–likely contributing to his defeat in one of the most lopsided elections in Puerto Rican history. He had said the investigation was politically inspired. Authorities last year accused Acevedo Vilá, a Democrat, and 12 associates of participating in an illegal scheme to pay off more than $500,000 in campaign debts.
Among those charged were Acevedo Vilá’s former U.S. finance chairman, prominent Philadelphia fund-raiser Robert M. Feldman; Glen Mills dentist Cándido Negrón; Boothwyn executive Salvatore Avanzato Sr.; and Philadelphia businessman and lawyer Marvin I. Block.
Why would the Department of Justice under Bush (and Rove) have concerned itself with the governorship of Puerto Rico? Consider that over one million Puerto Ricans have immigrated to Florida and now live there, and that under the rules governing the commonwealth status, Puerto Ricans obtain full citizenship and voting rights when they reside on the mainland. These demographic trends have been troubling for the G.O.P. in Florida, particularly as the state’s growing Hispanic population steadily becomes both less Cuban and less Republican.
If the goal was to put Acevedo Vilá in prison, then the prosecution failed miserably. But if the goal was for him to lose an election, it worked. With a politically-inspired indictment seizing headlines all through the campaign season, Acevedo Vilá went down to defeat and Luis Guillermo Fortuño-Burset was elected as the first Republican governor of the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Another election win for the G.O.P.–achieved almost entirely through the efforts of the Bush Justice Department.
More from Scott Horton:
Conversation — March 30, 2016, 3:44 pm
Joseph Hickman discusses his new book, The Burn Pits, which tells the story of thousands of U.S. soldiers who, after returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, have developed rare cancers and respiratory diseases.
Freddie Gray’s relatives arrived for the trial in the afternoon, after the prep-school kids had left. By their dress, they seemed to have just gotten off work in the medical and clerical fields. The family did not appear at ease in the courtroom. They winced and dropped their heads as William Porter and his fellow officer Zachary Novak testified to opening the doors of their police van last April and finding Freddie paralyzed, unresponsive, with mucus pooling at his mouth and nose. Four women and one man mournfully listened as the officers described needing to get gloves before they could touch him.
The first of six Baltimore police officers to be brought before the court for their treatment of Freddie Gray, a black twenty-five-year-old whose death in their custody was the immediate cause of the city’s uprising last spring, William Porter is young, black, and on trial. Here in this courtroom, in this city, in this nation, race and the future seem so intertwined as to be the same thing.
Minimum number of cats fitted with high-tech listening equipment in a 1967 CIA project:
Zoologists suggested that apes and humans share an ancestor who laughed.
A former prison in Philadelphia that has served as a horror-movie set was being prepared as a detention center for protesters arrested at the upcoming Democratic National Convention, and presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump fired his campaign manager.
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“Matt was happy enough to sustain himself on the detritus of a world he saw as careening toward self-destruction, and equally happy to scam a government he despised. 'I’m glad everyone’s so wasteful,' he told me. 'It supports my lifestyle.'”