Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

For The Record  

FTR #319 Bush League, Part III

Lis­ten: RealAu­dio | MP3

This broad­cast high­lights a num­ber of aspects of the Bush admin­is­tra­tion, includ­ing infor­ma­tion about the elec­toral coup of 2000. (Note that this pro­gram was record­ed before 9/11.)

1. The pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of the skewed media pre­sen­ta­tion of the “legit­i­ma­cy” of Bush’s “win” in the Flori­da elec­toral vote count. An inves­ti­ga­tion by the New York Times found incon­sis­ten­cies in the way that absen­tee bal­lots were processed. “On the morn­ing after Elec­tion Day, George W. Bush held a lead of 1,784 votes in Flori­da, but to his cam­paign strate­gists, the mar­gin felt per­ilous­ly slim. They were right. With­in a week, recounts would erode Bush’s unof­fi­cial lead to just 300 votes. With the pres­i­den­cy hang­ing on the out­come in Flori­da, the Bush team quick­ly grasped that their best hope of vic­to­ry was the bal­lots still arriv­ing from Flori­da vot­ers liv­ing abroad. Over the next 18 days, the Repub­li­cans mount­ed a legal and pub­lic rela­tions cam­paign to per­suade can­vass­ing boards in Bush strong­holds to waive the state’s elec­tion laws when count­ing those bal­lots.” (“Absen­tee-Bal­lot Push Gave Bush Key: GOP Pres­sured Flori­da to Dis­re­gard Flaws, Study Shows” by David Barstow and Don Van Nat­ta Jr. [New York Times]; San Jose Mer­cury News; 7/15/2001; p. 15A.)

2. The GOP strat­e­gy was appar­ent­ly suc­cess­ful. “Their goal was sim­ple: to count the max­i­mum num­ber of over­seas bal­lots in coun­ties won by Bush, par­tic­u­lar­ly those with a high con­cen­tra­tion of mil­i­tary vot­ers, while seek­ing to dis­qual­i­fy over­seas bal­lots in coun­ties won by Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore. A six-month inves­ti­ga­tion by The New York Times of this chap­ter in the clos­est U.S. elec­tion shows that the Repub­li­can effort had a major impact. Under pres­sure from Repub­li­cans, Flori­da offi­cials accept­ed hun­dreds of over­seas absen­tee bal­lots that failed to com­ply with state elec­tion laws. [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s]. In an analy­sis of the 2,490 bal­lots from Amer­i­cans liv­ing abroad that were count­ed as legal votes after Elec­tion Day, the Times found 680 ques­tion­able votes. Although it is not known for whom the flawed bal­lots were cast, four out of five were accept­ed in coun­ties car­ried by Bush, the Times found. Bush’s final mar­gin was 537 votes.” (Idem.)

3. The Times described some of the irreg­u­lar­i­ties. “The flawed votes includ­ed bal­lots with­out post­marks, bal­lots post­marked after the elec­tion, bal­lots with­out wit­ness sig­na­tures, bal­lots mailed from with­in the Unit­ed States and even bal­lots from peo­ple who vot­ed twice. All would have been dis­qual­i­fied had the elec­tion laws been strict­ly enforced. . . .” (Idem.)

4. “The Times found that these over­seas bal­lots-the only votes that could legal­ly by received and count­ed after Elec­tion Day-were judged by dif­fer­ent stan­dards, depend­ing on where they were count­ed. The unequal treat­ment is at odds with state­ments by Bush cam­paign lead­ers and by Flori­da Sec­re­tary of State Kather­ine Har­ris that rules should be applied uni­form­ly and not changed in the mid­dle of a con­test­ed elec­tion. It also appar­ent­ly con­flicts with the equal-pro­tec­tion guar­an­tee the U.S. Supreme Court invoked in Decem­ber when it halt­ed a statewide man­u­al recount and effec­tive­ly hand­ed Flori­da to Bush. [Ital­ics are Mr. Emory’s].” (Idem.)

5. Key files were appar­ent­ly erased in Flori­da, fur­ther obfus­cat­ing the inves­ti­ga­tion into what hap­pened. “Five months ago, elec­tions offi­cials in Palm Beach Coun­ty, Fla., turned their atten­tion from last year’s con­tro­ver­sial pres­i­den­tial bal­lot­ing to the spring elec­tion for dozens of munic­i­pal offices. As they pre­pared for the new elec­tion, they wiped out com­put­er files show­ing how each bal­lot was punched in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, remov­ing that infor­ma­tion from the pub­lic domain even as schol­ars and jour­nal­ists con­tin­ue to ana­lyze the results of Flori­da’s pres­i­den­tial vot­ing. The data is espe­cial­ly impor­tant because Palm Beach was one of the key coun­ties in the five-week recount process that ulti­mate­ly sent Pres­i­dent Bush to the White House.” (“Files Erased in Flori­da, Dam­ag­ing Elec­tion Review” by Geoff Dougher­ty; The Chica­go Tri­bune; 8/1/2001; accessed at www.chicagotribune.com/templates/misc/printstory.jsp?slug=chi%2DO108010285aug01 .)

6. “The files were the only com­put­er­ized record of the way the coun­ty’s tab­u­lat­ing machines reg­is­tered each bal­lot last Novem­ber. The punch card bal­lots them­selves were not destroyed but can­not be accu­rate­ly recount­ed because they have been exten­sive­ly han­dled and pos­si­bly dam­aged since Elec­tion Day. The era­sure is an unex­pect­ed blow to advo­cates of elec­tion reform because of the data’s his­tor­i­cal val­ue. By wip­ing out the records, the elec­tions staff also may have vio­lat­ed Flori­da’s strict rules against destroy­ing pub­lic records.” (Idem.)

7. NBC has con­tributed to the efforts to obscure the true nature of the 2000 elec­tion. In the con­text of what fol­lows, the role of John Ellis, George Bush’s cousin, as the edi­tor of the polit­i­cal desk at Fox News. (See FTR#259.) “At issue in [NBC Pres­i­dent Andrew] Lack­’s case is sworn tes­ti­mo­ny at the Feb­ru­ary hear­ing into botched elec­tion night news cov­er­age. In his tes­ti­mo­ny, Lack offered to turn over a copy of tapes-if they exist­ed-that showed the news­room actions of his cor­po­rate boss, Gen­er­al Elec­tric Chair­man Jack Welch. The rumor, Wax­man told Lack was that Welch, a major con­trib­u­tor to the Repub­li­can Par­ty, had ‘inter­vened’ in the net­work’s deci­sion to call the race for George W. Bush. Wax­man said he had heard Welch ‘cheered’ for Bush, ‘hissed’ Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Al Gore. At one point, Wax­man said Welch had alleged­ly asked some­one on the deci­sion desk: ‘What would I have to give you to call the race for Bush?’ ” (“NBC Balks at Shar­ing Elec­tion Night Tapes” by Megan Gar­vey; The Los Ange­les Times; 8/8/2001; p. A5.)

8. Much of the broad­cast deals with the Machi­avel­lian Karl Rove, the Bush aide cred­it­ed with much of W’s polit­i­cal suc­cess. In FTR#315, we exam­ined the untime­ly and sus­pi­cious death of J.H. Hat­field, the author of For­tu­nate Son-a Bush biog­ra­phy that high­light­ed W’s drug abuse and, more impor­tant­ly, the busi­ness con­nec­tions between Bush and the Bin Laden fam­i­ly. The afore­men­tioned FTR#248 is among the pro­grams that high­lights the Hat­field mate­r­i­al on the Bush/Bin Laden family/Arbusto Ener­gy con­nec­tion. Karl Rove was alleged by the pub­lish­er of the paper­back edi­tion of For­tu­nate Son to be a source who fun­neled dis­in­for­ma­tion to Hat­field to dis­cred­it him. “The Eufaula Con­nec­tion? That was Karl T. Rove. The oth­er top Bush advi­sor was Clay John­son. The Bush con­fi­dante source, was his min­is­ter, May­field. Now you know. Remem­ber, you’ve got to swear now. . . .” J.H. Hat­field had just iden­ti­fied Karl T. Rove, the Bush cam­paign’s senior advi­sor to me per­son­al­ly as the pri­ma­ry source for the G.W. Bush cocaine arrest cocaine sto­ry. It took me that whole year to under­stand why Rove would do such a thing.” (“George W. Bush’s Brain? How Karl T. Rove Used For­tu­nate Son to Stick George W. Bush in the White House” by Sander Hicks; Online Jour­nal; 5/23/2001; p. 3; accessed at www.onlinejournal.com/Media/Hicks052301/hicks052301.html; sourced from Soft­skull Press www.softskull.com/catalog/hatfield/fs karlrove.html .)

9. Hicks dis­cuss­es the back­ground to the sti­fled press about W’s drug abuse. “When the media stum­bled upon the sto­ry that George W. Bush was arrest­ed for cocaine pos­ses­sion in 1972, it was through an anony­mous tip report­ed by a colum­nist at Salon.com (“Bush Up To His Arse In Alle­ga­tions! Sharp-Toothed E‑Mail, Killer Bees and Bags of Worms. Will This Hound Hunt?” by Amy Reit­er.) Hat­field­’s book was in final proof­ing stages when this hot sto­ry broke on August 25, 1999. The piece was the first to state that Bush had been arrest­ed in the ear­ly ‘70’s, and that he ‘was ordered by a Texas judge to per­form com­mu­ni­ty ser­vice in exchange for expung­ing his record show­ing illic­it drug use,’ accord­ing to the source. To make mat­ters worse, that August, Bush went out on his own on the cam­paign trail and impro­vised on cam­era about his drug past. With his han­dlers out of town ghost-writ­ing his ‘auto­bi­og­ra­phy,’ he blurt­ed out at a press con­fer­ence that he had­n’t done drugs since 1974. The media crowed at the spec­ta­cle. For instance, USA Today gushed, ‘Bush has admit­ted some­thing, but he refus­es to say what.’ ” (Idem.)

10. Enter J.H. Hat­field and Karl Rove. “Hat­field, who long sus­pect­ed some­thing was awry in young Bush’s play­boy days, went back to his Texas sources to cor­rob­o­rate this sto­ry through Clay John­son and Karl Rove, his reg­u­lar sources of infor­ma­tion. Accord­ing to Hat­field, Rove and John­son explained the cocaine arrest on the phone, under con­di­tion of anonymi­ty. Rove had ear­li­er tak­en Hat­field on a fish­ing trip to Lake Eufaula, OK, to dis­cuss Bush, so his pseu­do­nym in the ‘After­word’ became the cloak-and-dag­geresque ‘The Eufaula Con­nec­tion.” (Idem.)

11. Hicks dis­cuss­es Rove’s rea­sons for select­ing Hat­field. “Why choose Jim Hat­field? Hat­field had com­mit­ted his 1987 crime in Dal­las, where long­time Bush school­mate and friend Clay John­son was an asso­ciate. John­son was friends with Hat­field­’s employ­ers Lar­ry Burke and Kay Bur­row. He would have heard about the vio­lent work­place con­spir­a­cy that stemmed from an illic­it affair Burke was hav­ing with Bur­row. Bur­row had tried to black­mail Burke, and Hat­field took the fall for the attempt he arranged on Bur­row’s life at his boss Burke’s request.” (Idem.)

12. Next, Hicks high­lights the alleged feed­ing of dis­in­for­ma­tion to Hat­field in order to fur­ther the dis­cred­i­ta­tion project. “Rove and John­son fur­ther ensured they could dis­cred­it Hat­field by feed­ing him flawed infor­ma­tion. They altered key facts in the cocaine arrest sto­ry, and thus raised the bur­den of proof for future reporters. At one point, Hat­field was told that the arrest­ing judge was a Repub­li­can, a false­hood which, although eas­i­ly detect­ed, served to dam­age Hat­field­’s cred­i­bil­i­ty. After St. Mar­t­in’s rushed the cocaine arrest sto­ry into the book as an ‘After­word,’ sud­den­ly the Dal­las Morn­ing News received the pri­vate, crim­i­nal record of J.H. Hat­field­’s felony in Texas. The News pub­lished an arti­cle about Hat­field­’s felo­nious past and it was all over for the Bush cocaine arrest sto­ry.” (Ibid.; pp. 3–4.)

13. “All in a day’s work” might very well sum up Hicks’ assess­ment of Rove’s machi­na­tions. What is to be pon­dered in this con­text is the fact of Hat­field­’s untime­ly death. Like the late Sen­a­tor Paul Well­stone, Hat­field had been tar­get­ed by Rove. As to whether Rove had any­thing to do with their deaths is any­body’s guess. “This style of dis­in­for­ma­tion fol­lows the pat­tern set by all mas­ters of pub­lic opin­ion of the 20th Cen­tu­ry. Karl T. Rove is an avid his­to­ry buff, and applies what he reads. In just two short months he sur­gi­cal­ly removed the medi­a’s talk of the Bush drug arrest by feed­ing it to a biog­ra­ph­er he knew had a felony con­vic­tion in his past. Hat­field broke the sto­ry, and then Rove broke Hat­field. The Bush Cam­paign’s friends at the Dal­las Morn­ing News broke a sala­cious, mes­mer­iz­ing sto­ry about a car-bomb, a hit man, a boss, a felony con­vic­tion, and the mass medi­a’s atten­tion is focused en masse on Hat­field, who can’t take the heat, denies the alle­ga­tions and flees town. St. Mar­t­in’s does­n’t know what’s going on, but sud­den­ly they are get­ting threat­ened by Bush cam­paign lawyers who are ‘look­ing into’ suing them. St. Mar­t­in’s behav­ior becomes para­noid, they announce that they are pulling 88,000 copies of the book from stores. So much for Amer­i­ca, so much for the Bill of Rights.” (Ibid.; p. 4.)


3 comments for “FTR #319 Bush League, Part III”

  1. Remem­ber this?

    August 31, 2004
    “Karl Rove?s Mas­ter Plan: A One-Par­ty Amer­i­ca,” for BuzzFlash.com by James Moore, Co-Author of “Bush’s Brain”

    by James C. Moore, Co-Author of “Bush’s Brain”

    While every­one ana­lyzes and com­plains about his tac­tics, Karl Rove has his eyes on a grand strat­e­gy.

    The Swift Boat Vet­er­ans for Lies is but a tiny piece of a schemat­ic Rove has been car­ry­ing in his head since his sal­ad days in Texas. Bush’s Brain will die hap­py the day he achieves his two great­est goals. The first of these is to turn the U.S. into what is fun­da­men­tal­ly a one-par­ty sys­tem. Sec­ond­ly, he wants the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to have so lit­tle mon­ey that it can do noth­ing to get in the way of busi­ness inter­ests; nor will it be able to sus­tain any kind of social­ly pro­gres­sive assis­tance for dis­ad­van­taged Amer­i­cans.

    His desire to destroy the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty is not about fair play pol­i­tics. Rove sees a coun­try where there is only sym­bol­ic oppo­si­tion and democ­ra­cy is more of a “Potemkin Vil­lage” show than an actu­al­ly tal­ly­ing of votes and a dis­cus­sion of issues. He and the Repub­li­cans believe they know what is best for Amer­i­ca. They do not con­sid­er ideas from the left or the cen­ter. Those peo­ple are sim­ply wrong to them.

    Of course, the irony is lost on Rove and his hench­men that a one-par­ty nation, at the worst, turns us into some­thing akin to a com­mu­nist coun­try or, as a min­i­mum, the pseu­do-democ­ra­cy main­tained for decades by Mex­i­co.

    But Karl does­n’t care. Amer­i­ca is not impor­tant. Polit­i­cal vic­to­ry is what mat­ters, the con­trol of pow­er, and the econ­o­my. This isn’t con­spir­a­cy the­o­ry non­sense. He’s tak­ing the steps. And they are work­ing. Dur­ing his inter­view with Brit Hume on Fox News last week, the net­work played a video clip of an inter­view with me and I said, “I tru­ly believe that the pol­i­cy and pol­i­tics of Karl Rove are a threat to our repub­lic.” The senior pres­i­den­tial advi­sor dis­missed me as “a far left-winger who has been drink­ing too much swamp water.” Rove obvi­ous­ly does­n’t real­ize that 99 per­cent of Amer­i­ca is to the left of him polit­i­cal­ly and the remain­ing one per­cent is like­ly holed up in a com­pound in Mon­tana.


    They’re still at it:

    The Nation
    RNC’s Priebus Pro­pos­es to Rig Elec­toral Col­lege so Los­ing Repub­li­cans Can ‘Win’
    John Nichols on Jan­u­ary 14, 2013 — 10:15 AM ET

    Fresh from claim­ing the GOP’s 2012 run was “a great campaign—a great nine-month cam­paign” that only went awry at the end, Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee chair­man Reince Priebus now wants to rig the Elec­toral Col­lege so that when Repub­li­cans lose they still might “win.”

    Specif­i­cal­ly, Priebus is urg­ing Repub­li­can gov­er­nors and leg­is­la­tors to take up what was once a fringe scheme to change the rule for dis­tri­b­u­tion of Elec­toral Col­lege votes. Under the Priebus plan, elec­toral votes from bat­tle­ground states such as Flori­da, Ohio, Penn­syl­va­nia, Vir­ginia, Wis­con­sin and oth­er states that now reg­u­lar­ly back Democ­rats for pres­i­dent would be allo­cat­ed not to the statewide win­ner but to the win­ners of indi­vid­ual con­gres­sion­al dis­tricts.

    Because of ger­ry­man­der­ing by Repub­li­can gov­er­nors and leg­is­la­tors, and the con­cen­tra­tion of Demo­c­ra­t­ic votes in urban areas and col­lege towns, divvy­ing up Elec­toral Col­lege votes based on con­gres­sion­al dis­trict wins would yield sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter results for the GOP. In Wis­con­sin, where Demo­c­rat Barack Oba­ma won in 2012 by a wider mar­gin than he did nation­al­ly, the pres­i­dent would only have got­ten half the elec­toral votes. In Penn­syl­va­nia, where Oba­ma won eas­i­ly, he would not have got­ten the twen­ty elec­toral votes that he did; instead, under the Priebus plan, it would have been eight for Repub­li­can Mitt Rom­ney, twelve for Barack Oba­ma.

    Nation­wide, Oba­ma won a sweep­ing pop­u­lar-vote victory—with an almost 5‑million bal­lot mar­gin that made him the first pres­i­dent since Dwight Eisen­how­er to take more than 51 per­cent of the vote in two elec­tions. That trans­lat­ed to a very com­fort­able 322–206 win in the Elec­toral Col­lege.

    How would the 2012 results have changed if a Priebus plan had been in place? Accord­ing to an analy­sis by Fair Vote-The Cen­ter for Vot­ing and Democ­ra­cy, the results would have been a dra­mat­i­cal­ly clos­er and might even have yield­ed a Rom­ney win.

    Under the most com­mon­ly pro­posed dis­trict plan (the statewide win­ner gets two votes with the rest divid­ed by con­gres­sion­al dis­trict) Oba­ma would have secured the nar­row­est pos­si­ble win: 270–268. Under more aggres­sive plans (includ­ing one that awards elec­toral votes by dis­trict and then gives the two statewide votes to the can­di­date who won the most dis­tricts), Rom­ney would have won 280–258.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 23, 2013, 11:08 am
  2. Awww. Sax­by Cham­b­liss is retir­ing from the Sen­ate. So long Sax­by. You should have no prob­lem gar­ner­ing the sup­port you need for any future endeav­ors...assum­ing it involves a vote:

    Raw Sto­ry
    Alle­ga­tions about 2002 Geor­gia elec­tion raise doubts on cur­rent vot­ing
    Muriel Kane
    Pub­lished: Fri­day Novem­ber 21, 2008

    As the state of Geor­gia pre­pares to con­duct a runoff between incum­bent Sen­a­tor Sax­by Cham­b­liss and his Demo­c­ra­t­ic chal­lenger, Jim Mar­tin, old doubts about the elec­tion in which Cham­b­liss took the Sen­ate seat from Max Cle­land six years ago are attract­ing fresh notice.

    Cham­b­liss was the vic­tor in the 2002 elec­tion by sev­en per­cent­age points, despite polls which showed him trail­ing by five points just a week ear­li­er. That unex­pect­ed turn­around, com­bined with the exclu­sive con­trol over the vot­ing machines by Diebold Elec­tion Sys­tems, raised sus­pi­cions of elec­tron­ic vote-tam­per­ing from the start.

    Accord­ing to cyber-secu­ri­ty expert Stephen Spoon­amore, “If you look at the case of Sax­by Cham­b­liss, that’s ridicu­lous. The man was not elect­ed. He lost that elec­tion by five points. Max Cle­land won. They flipped the votes, clear as day.”

    Spoon­amore has been speak­ing out since last sum­mer about the prob­lems with the 2002 elec­tion, draw­ing on his exam­i­na­tion of a soft­ware patch which the pres­i­dent of Diebold’s elec­tion unit per­son­al­ly brought to Geor­gia to be installed pri­or to the vot­ing.

    Spoon­amore received the patch from Diebold whistle­blow­er Chris Hood, who first came for­ward two years ago and spoke with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. for an arti­cle in Rolling Stone.

    “We ran the elec­tion,” Hood told Kennedy. “We had 356 peo­ple that Diebold brought into the state. Diebold opened and closed the polls and tab­u­lat­ed the votes. Diebold con­vinced [Geor­gia Sec­re­tary of State Cathy] Cox that it would be best if the com­pa­ny ran every­thing due to the time con­straints, and in the inter­est of a trou­ble-free elec­tion, she let us do it.”

    Hood has now repeat­ed his doubts about the 2002 Geor­gia elec­tion, as well as about vot­ing prob­lems in Mary­land in 2004, in an inter­view with for­mer ABC News pro­duc­er Rebec­ca Abra­hams. “I have come to believe that these errors are now per­ma­nent­ly embed­ded into the sys­tem,” Hood told Abra­hams.


    Posted by Pterrafractyl | January 25, 2013, 10:07 am
  3. Oh look at that: It turns out Don­ald Trump’s char­i­ty “acci­den­tal­ly” donat­ed $25,000 to Flori­da’s right-wing Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Pam Bon­di, back in 2013, when Bon­di just hap­pened to be inves­ti­gat­ing Trump Uni­ver­si­ty for fraud. And, shock­er, Bon­di decid­ed not to pur­sue the inves­ti­ga­tion.

    Well, this dona­tion hap­pens to be a poten­tial­ly ille­gal since char­i­ties are pro­hib­it­ed from aid­ing polit­i­cal can­di­dates. But the Trump cam­paign has an expla­na­tion: it was all just a mis­take. Actu­al­ly a series of mis­takes. You see, Bondi’s cam­paign fund was named “And Jus­tice for All” and the Trump cam­paign actu­al­ly intend­ed to donate to anoth­er Kansas-based non-prof­it by the same name. Real­ly! It was just a name mix up. Also, when list­ing this dona­tion to the IRS, Trump’s office acci­den­tal­ly list­ed it as a dona­tion to a Utah based group called “Jus­tice for All”. Also total­ly a mis­take. And in no way were these mis­takes relat­ed to Bondi’s pos­si­ble inves­ti­ga­tion of Trump Uni­ver­si­ty:

    The Wash­ing­ton Post
    Trump camp admits $25,000 char­i­ty dona­tion to Flori­da AG was a mis­take

    By David A. Fahren­thold and Ros­alind S. Hel­der­man
    March 22 at 10:52 AM

    Aides to Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial front-run­ner Don­ald Trump said this week that his char­i­ta­ble foun­da­tion made a mis­take when it donat­ed $25,000 to a polit­i­cal com­mit­tee back­ing Flori­da Attor­ney Gen­er­al Pam Bon­di, a poten­tial vio­la­tion of fed­er­al rules pro­hibit­ing char­i­ties from aid­ing polit­i­cal can­di­dates.

    The Don­ald J. Trump Foun­da­tion com­pound­ed the error by not list­ing its 2013 gift to the pro-Bon­di group, And Jus­tice for All, in its fil­ings with the IRS that year, the aides said. But the char­i­ty list­ed a $25,000 dona­tion to an unre­lat­ed group with a sim­i­lar name, Jus­tice for All. But that group, a Wichi­ta-based non­prof­it, said it nev­er received any mon­ey from the foun­da­tion.

    Such an admis­sion of error from the cam­paign is itself rel­a­tive­ly unusu­al, because Trump has built his cam­paign on a dis­taste for apolo­gies.

    Trump’s cam­paign spokes­woman and the trea­sur­er of his foun­da­tion said they were unaware of the charity’s mis­takes until Mon­day, when they were noti­fied that a left-lean­ing watch­dog group, Cit­i­zens for Respon­si­bil­i­ty and Ethics in Wash­ing­ton, filed a com­plaint with the IRS.

    Both said there was no intent to deceive the IRS, and they blamed the prob­lems on a series of cler­i­cal errors.

    “All these years, we had no idea any­thing hap­pened,” said Allen Weis­sel­berg, chief finan­cial offi­cer of the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion and the long­time trea­sur­er of Trump’s foun­da­tion.

    Weis­sel­berg said Trump’s accoun­tants would con­tact the IRS on Tues­day to “straight­en it out.”

    The dona­tion to Bondi’s group by Trump’s foun­da­tion, a char­i­ty that the bil­lion­aire busi­ness­man cre­at­ed in the 1980s, was con­tro­ver­sial because it came as Bon­di was review­ing whether to inves­ti­gate fraud alle­ga­tions against Trump Uni­ver­si­ty, a real-estate-sem­i­nar busi­ness affil­i­at­ed with the front-run­ner.

    Bon­di, a Repub­li­can who was prepar­ing for her 2014 reelec­tion, nev­er took action against Trump Uni­ver­si­ty.

    When ques­tions arose at the time, the group and Trump defend­ed the dona­tion.

    The trea­sur­er of the pro-Bon­di And Jus­tice for All, Nan­cy Watkins, told the Tam­pa Bay Times at the time that the group was “com­fort­able with the pro­pri­ety of the con­tri­bu­tion from the Trump Foun­da­tion.” Trump told the paper then that Bon­di “is a fab­u­lous rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple — Flori­da is lucky to have her.”<

    The foundation’s gift to Bon­di gained renewed atten­tion in recent days after Bon­di endorsed Trump before this year’s Flori­da GOP pri­ma­ry, on March 15. Hope Hicks, a spokes­woman for Trump’s cam­paign, said that it had been unaware that Trump’s foun­da­tion made the erro­neous polit­i­cal gift.

    “The cam­paign wasn’t in exis­tence” when the 2013 dona­tion was made, Hicks said. “The cam­paign had no knowl­edge of this.”

    IRS rules say that non­prof­it foun­da­tions, like Trump’s, are “absolute­ly pro­hib­it­ed from direct­ly or indi­rect­ly par­tic­i­pat­ing in, or inter­ven­ing in, any polit­i­cal cam­paign.” If an orga­ni­za­tion is found to have vio­lat­ed that rule, the result could be a loss of non­prof­it sta­tus. The penal­ty for send­ing false infor­ma­tion to the IRS can be more severe.

    CREW, the watch­dog group, was the first to note pub­licly that Trump’s foun­da­tion report­ed a dona­tion to the Kansas-based Jus­tice for All — and not to the pro-Bon­di group with a sim­i­lar name.

    A spokes­woman for the Kansas group, which trains antiabor­tion activists, con­firmed to The Wash­ing­ton Post that it had not received the mon­ey.

    Jor­dan Libowitz, a CREW spokes­woman, said the IRS “needs to inves­ti­gate and deter­mine where the truth lies.”

    “It appears they gave an ille­gal polit­i­cal dona­tion, told the IRS they didn’t give a polit­i­cal dona­tion, claimed it was made to a sim­i­lar­ly named per­mis­si­ble group instead — and now they’re say­ing it’s an error?” Libowitz said.

    An IRS spokesman declined to com­ment, cit­ing fed­er­al pri­va­cy laws that pro­hib­it dis­clo­sure of infor­ma­tion about any indi­vid­ual tax­pay­er.

    The expla­na­tion from Trump aides on Mon­day under­scored the extent to which Trump’s foun­da­tion is man­aged large­ly by the same peo­ple who help run his busi­ness empire and make deci­sions about his per­son­al funds.

    Weis­sel­berg, the foundation’s trea­sur­er, said the mis­takes began with an accounts-payable clerk at the Trump Orga­ni­za­tion.

    The clerk received a request for pay­ment, Weis­sel­berg said, in the name of Bondi’s group, And Jus­tice For All. Then, the clerk had to decide whether the check would come from Trump’s char­i­ty or his per­son­al funds.

    The clerk had a stand­ing order to con­sult a ref­er­ence book, Weis­sel­berg said.

    “In that book, it lists all the bona-fide char­i­ties, so we went to that book and in that book, sure enough, is And Jus­tice for All,” Weis­sel­berg said.

    That was a mis­take, he said, but the clerk didn’t know it.

    The list­ing she’d found for And Jus­tice For All was actu­al­ly for anoth­er non­prof­it with the same name, locat­ed in Utah. So the clerk, Weis­sel­berg said, wrote a check for that name, drawn from the char­i­ta­ble foundation’s funds.

    If the clerk knew that the check was meant for a polit­i­cal group, Weis­sel­berg said, “we would have tak­en it out of [Trump’s] own per­son­al account.”

    “We had 99.9999 per­cent of them per­fect, and this is the one,” he added.

    The clerk wrote the check, but it didn’t go to the Utah group. The And Jus­tice for All orga­ni­za­tion in Utah, which helps poor peo­ple and those with dis­abil­i­ties nav­i­gate the legal sys­tem, told The Wash­ing­ton Post that the group received no funds from Trump.

    Weis­sel­berg could not explain how the mon­ey got to Bondi’s group.

    “The check got cut, and after that, I don’t know exact­ly where it end­ed up,” he said.

    “It must have gone, I guess, to Pam Bon­di,” Weis­sel­berg said. “We spoke to our accoun­tants, our tax attor­neys in Wash­ing­ton, and they say these things hap­pen all the time.”

    The next mis­take, Weis­sel­berg said, was made by Trump’s account­ing firm.

    When com­pil­ing the foundation’s dona­tions for 2013, they did not list a dona­tion to either of the two groups called “And Jus­tice For All.”

    Instead, they list­ed a $25,000 dona­tion to “Jus­tice For All,” in Kansas.

    “From what I’m told, they had a typo­graph­i­cal mis­take on the return. .?.?. Some­how, some­one who typed up the return for that year, put Jus­tice For All,” Weis­sel­berg said.


    ““It appears they gave an ille­gal polit­i­cal dona­tion, told the IRS they didn’t give a polit­i­cal dona­tion, claimed it was made to a sim­i­lar­ly named per­mis­si­ble group instead — and now they’re say­ing it’s an error?” Libowitz said.”
    That’s a good way to sum it up. But it’s worth not­ing that Trump’s 2013 dona­tion is turn­ing out to be a rather great invest­ment. Not only did it prob­a­bly help him dodge a Trump U inves­ti­ga­tion, but let’s keep in mind that, while Flori­da’s for­mer Sec­re­tary of State Kather­ine Har­ris played a crit­i­cal hyper-par­ti­san role in the 2000 Flori­da recount, the state Attor­ney Gen­er­al also has a role to play in such cir­cum­stances. For instance, back in 2000, the Attor­ney Gen­er­al, Bob But­ter­worth, who also hap­pened to be Al Gore’s state cam­paign man­ag­er, felt the need to inter­vene dur­ing the ini­tial recount peri­od. Why? Because, in But­ter­worth’s opin­ion, the opin­ions issued by Har­ris were so appalling that, “There was no way I could allow that legal opin­ion to go unchal­lenged, it was so clear­ly con­trary to Flori­da law”:

    St. Peters­burg Times, pub­lished Novem­ber 15, 2000

    But­ter­worth opin­ion, call under fire


    TALLAHASSEE — A day after the nation vot­ed for a new pres­i­dent, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob But­ter­worth stood beside Gov. Jeb Bush and said Flori­da’s integri­ty was at stake.

    On Tues­day, But­ter­worth’s own integri­ty was being ques­tioned in the wake of a for­mal opin­ion he issued in the state’s ongo­ing elec­tions cri­sis and a tele­phone call he made to elec­tions offi­cials in Volu­sia Coun­ty last week.

    But­ter­worth, the state’s chief legal offi­cer and the statewide man­ag­er of Vice Pres­i­dent Al Gore’s cam­paign, said he was wear­ing his attor­ney gen­er­al hat and not his cam­paign hat when he decid­ed to get involved.

    But­ter­worth said he decid­ed to issue his own legal opin­ion — despite the fact that Flori­da statutes direct the state Divi­sion of Elec­tions to inter­pret elec­tions law — after read­ing an opin­ion issued Mon­day by Sec­re­tary of State Kather­ine Har­ris.

    “I read it (Har­ris’ opin­ion) and was absolute­ly appalled,” But­ter­worth said Tues­day. “There was no way I could allow that legal opin­ion to go unchal­lenged, it was so clear­ly con­trary to Flori­da law.”

    But­ter­worth admits he could have “tak­en a pass” on issu­ing the opin­ion, but insists he has the author­i­ty to issue opin­ions “on any­thing I want to.”

    But­ter­worth’s own Web site lists the sit­u­a­tions in which he does issue opin­ions and notes that advi­so­ry opin­ions on elec­tions law should be direct­ed to the state Divi­sion of Elec­tions.

    Repub­li­cans point­ed out that Tues­day’s opin­ion from But­ter­worth was the first one issued on an elec­tion issue by the attor­ney gen­er­al since at least the 1970s.

    “We are out­raged,” said Jamie Wil­son, exec­u­tive direc­tor of the Flori­da Repub­li­can Par­ty. “But­ter­worth was chair­man of the Gore cam­paign. For him to attack Har­ris’ integri­ty is absolute­ly dis­gust­ing and dis­turb­ing.”

    The heat But­ter­worth is tak­ing comes as Democ­rats con­tin­ue to ques­tion the bias of Har­ris, a Repub­li­can who was a co-chair­woman of George W. Bush’s Flori­da cam­paign.

    But­ter­worth said Tues­day he resigned from the Gore cam­paign Thurs­day, two days after the elec­tion.

    But­ter­worth also defend­ed the calls he made last week to elec­tions offi­cials in Volu­sia Coun­ty who were try­ing to deter­mine whether to order a man­u­al recount.

    Cir­cuit Judge Robert K. Rouse Jr., the chief admin­is­tra­tive judge for Volu­sia Coun­ty, says But­ter­worth called him Thurs­day and asked him to call in Coun­ty Judge Michael R. McDer­mott, who is chair­man of the coun­ty’s can­vass­ing board.

    Rouse said he got McDer­mott in on the con­fer­ence call and But­ter­worth began telling them they need­ed to do a man­u­al recount. He said But­ter­worth also faxed him a copy of an April 28, 1999, let­ter writ­ten by a state elec­tions offi­cial. That let­ter, addressed to Man­a­tee Coun­ty, requires an actu­al recount of the votes and not mere­ly a review of com­put­er tapes.

    Rouse said But­ter­worth was insist­ing that the votes be recount­ed bal­lot by bal­lot.

    When McDer­mott was advised that the attor­ney gen­er­al was on the tele­phone, Rouse said McDer­mott imme­di­ate­ly object­ed because But­ter­worth was chair­man of Gore’s Flori­da cam­paign.

    Rouse said But­ter­worth told the judge he had resigned from the Gore cam­paign, but offered to leave the room when McDer­mott ques­tioned the poten­tial con­flict of inter­est.

    After But­ter­worth left the con­fer­ence call, Rouse said he con­tin­ued talk­ing to But­ter­worth’s assis­tants but McDer­mott said he felt any con­tact from the attor­ney gen­er­al’s office was a prob­lem.

    Lat­er that day, Volu­sia elec­tion offi­cials vot­ed to do a com­plete man­u­al recount.

    On Tues­day, McDer­mott con­firmed Rouse’s account of the call and said he thought it was improp­er for But­ter­worth to call him because of his role in the Gore cam­paign.


    Rouse said he was curi­ous about receiv­ing a copy of a state elec­tions direc­tive from But­ter­worth instead of Har­ris, the state offi­cial who gov­erns elec­tions.

    But­ter­worth says he sent the let­ter to Rouse because he thought Volu­sia was not going to fol­low the law.

    “I was doing my job, the chief judge was doing his job,” But­ter­worth said.

    “But­ter­worth said he decid­ed to issue his own legal opin­ion — despite the fact that Flori­da statutes direct the state Divi­sion of Elec­tions to inter­pret elec­tions law — after read­ing an opin­ion issued Mon­day by Sec­re­tary of State Kather­ine Har­ris.”
    Well, Trump def­i­nite­ly won’t have to wor­ry about med­dling a Flori­da Attor­ney Gen­er­al should a Flori­da recount once again haunt the nation, although that prob­a­bly won’t be that much of an advan­tage to Trump dur­ing any such sce­nario since he pre­sum­ably would­n’t have to wor­ry about a fel­low GOP­er’s sup­port dur­ing a recount with or with­out that $25k dona­tion. And with the GOP cur­rent­ly hold­ing the Sec­re­tary of State’s office too, it’s not like any GOP pres­i­den­tial can­di­date is going to have Flori­da recount wor­ries.

    It’s all most­ly just a reminder that if Trump does­n’t lose big in Flori­da, he’ll prob­a­bly win it. It’s also a reminder that Trump Uni­ver­si­ty prob­a­bly isn’t a great invest­ment for your future unless, of course, you’re plan­ning on writ­ing a best-sell­ing book about your tri­als and tribu­la­tions after get­ting scammed by a bil­lion­aire. Trump U would be the per­fect choice for that par­tic­u­lar career path. Alas, Trump U is no more, so it might be too late for your Great Amer­i­can Nov­el which is too bad. Books about aver­age Joes get­ting super scammed by bil­lion­aires are only get­ting more and more top­i­cal.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | March 22, 2016, 3:23 pm

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