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In “Justice in the Gutter,” I discussed the mounting evidence that a Bush political appointee had exploited his sinecure in the Office of Juvenile Justice to funnel contracts to political cronies. Now an investigation by the Office of Inspector General has validated those reports. Here’s Carrie Johnson in the Friday Washington Post:
A former Justice Department grant-making administrator violated federal ethics and procurement rules in awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in sole source contracts to ideologically favored companies and individuals, the department’s inspector general concluded today. The administrator, J. Robert Flores, was a political appointee during former president George Bush’s administration who left his post after the inauguration in January…
The report issued this morning culminates a nearly two-year investigation into alleged irregularities with grants awarded by the Justice Department’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention during the Bush administration.
At the core of the study is a figure named Hector Rene Fonseca, identified by the Post as a retired Colombian military officer. Josh Marshall offers the far more interesting facts:
Fonseca is actually a former Colonel in the Honduran military. He apparently got his start in US right-wing politics when he married Deborah Lynne De Moss, daughter of the right-wing philanthropist De Moss family, who was then Director of Latin American Affairs for Sen. Jesse Helms, generally known for archaic views on Latin American affairs generally. That was back in 1994.
Primed with that juice in the US and Honduras, Fonseca later ran for President of Honduras (though De Moss may have tripped up his chances by threatening to sic her “contacts” on Fonseca’s enemies) before seeing those dreams come to naught and angling for a soft landing with right-wing crony welfare courtesy of the Bush Justice Department.
So contracts were being awarded to feed a member of the movement conservative inner circle, with plenty of Religious Right connections to boot. The Inspector General concluded that the contract awards to Flores were a “misuse of funds.”
Other major contract beneficiaries were World Golf Foundation’s First Tee Initiative (honorary chair: George H.W. Bush); the Best Friends Foundation (headed by Mrs. William Bennett); and Victory Outreach, which had hired a former Bush White House official. The pattern is very consistent.
So what’s the Justice Department’s reaction to this? No charges will be brought. Seems that’s been the consistent Justice Department reaction to every established allegation of gross corruption involving political appointees at the Department since 2001. And who at Justice made that determination? That would be the Public Integrity Section, whose leadership is itself now the target of a criminal investigation by a special prosecutor. Maybe this decision needs to be reviewed by someone who actually knows something about public integrity.
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.
i. stand with israel
I listen to a lot of conservative talk radio. Confident masculine voices telling me the enemy is everywhere and victory is near — I often find it affirming: there’s a reason I don’t think that way. Last spring, many right-wing commentators made much of a Bloomberg poll that asked Americans, “Are you more sympathetic to Netanyahu or Obama?” Republicans picked the Israeli prime minister over their own president, 67 to 16 percent. There was a lot of affected shock that things had come to this. Rush Limbaugh said of Netanyahu that he wished “we had this kind of forceful moral, ethical clarity leading our own country”; Mark Levin described him as “the leader of the free world.” For a few days there I yelled quite a bit in my car.
The one conservative radio show I do find myself enjoying is hosted by Dennis Prager. At the Thanksgiving dinner of American radio personalities (Limbaugh is your jittery brother-in-law, Michael Savage is your racist uncle, Hugh Hewitt is Hugh Hewitt) Dennis Prager is the turkey-carving patriarch trying to keep the conversation moderately high-minded. While Prager obviously doesn’t like liberals — “The gaps between the left and right on almost every issue that matters are in fact unbridgeable,” he has said — he often invites them onto his show for debate, which is rare among right-wing hosts. Yet his gently exasperated take on the Obama–Netanyahu matchup was among the least charitable: “Those who do not confront evil resent those who do.”
Pairs of moose-dung earrings sold each year at Grizzly’s Gifts in Anchorage, Alaska:
An Alaskan brown bear was reported to have scratched its face with barnacled rocks, making it the first bear seen using tools since 1972, when a Svalbardian polar bear is alleged to have clubbed a seal in the head with a block of ice.
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.'”