Thursday, June 07, 2012

Ed's Take

And this guy once was chairman of the Democratic National Committee.   Honestly.   The Hill reported today

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell (D) ripped the unions and activists who charged forward in trying to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Wednesday, calling the push a political blunder.

"It was a dumb political fight — I would have waited until Walker's reelection," Rendell told The Hill when asked if the recall push had been a mistake. The former governor and head of the Democratic National Committee pointed to exit polls that showed a number of independents and Democrats who opposed Walker's policies nonetheless voted for him because they opposed a recall.

While acknowledging that if Democrat Tom Barrett had enjoyed Walker's overwhelming advantage in funding the incumbent would have been defeated, Rendell continued

There are a lot of people who voted on principle against a recall because they don't believe recalling someone for other than a crime or downright corruption is appropriate.     I would have had a tough time voting for the recall. If we're pissed off at what a person does in office the answer is to beat them when they're up for reelection.

Fast Eddie ought to be reminded that California Governor Gray Davis was replaced with Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2003 via a recall election.    The process, according to Wikipedia, began with a petition charging Davis with a "gross mismanagement of California Finances by overspending taxpayers' money, threatening public safety by cutting funds to local governments, failing to account for the exorbitant cost of the energy, and failing in general to deal with the state's major problems until they get to the crisis stage."      

Admittedly, the effort to recall Walker also was prompted by ideology, opposition to the governor's destruction of collective bargaining for state employees.   But there was another facet of Walker's record which escaped Rendell's attention.    The Daily Beast writes (the day after the election, of course)

An investigation by the Milwaukee district attorney’s office into misconduct by people tied to the controversial Wisconsin Republican during his two terms as county executive is circling closer to Walker, with one reporter alleging this week that the governor has become the target of both the probe and a separate federal investigation.

The D.A.’s John Doe investigation into associates of Walker during his time as the Milwaukee county executive, launched in 2010, has to date led to charges against six people, including Walker’s former deputy chief of staff. While Walker himself has not been charged with wrongdoing, the investigation is ongoing and over the past seven weeks Walker has transferred $160,000 from his campaign to a legal-defense fund that he maintains is to cover the expense of cooperating with the probe.

A John Doe investigation, similar to grand juries in many states, is a sub rosa investigation in which prosecutors can subpoena witnesses and bar them from publicly discussing the matter under investigation. Walker first met with prosecutors in Milwaukee County in February to discuss the investigation. He denied wrongdoing in a statement at the time, saying that he brought two defense lawyers to the meeting to ensure that he was “in the best position possible to continue aiding the inquiry.”

But the governor’s defense fund has raised eyebrows. Walker has said that the money in the fund will only go to legal fees incurred by himself or his campaign, and not his aides. Though he has not been personally charged with any crimes as a result of the investigation, he has said that he needs the war chest tocover the expense of providing documents to lead investigator and Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm, a Democrat.

But when Walker set up the fund in March, legal experts pointed to Wisconsin statutes that seem to mean Walker would only be allowed to establish such a reserve if he had already been charged or was being investigated in connection with the John Doe probe.

“The only way you can set that up is if you are under investigation or are being prosecuted,” Michael Maistelman, who was representing Russell at the time, told reporters. “One can only draw the conclusion that either one of those two things is happening.”

Walker, though, has continued to say that he does not know himself to be a target of the investigation, and that the fund was set up under the guidance of the state’s Government Accountability Board.

How far down the rabbit hole the investigation may take prosecutors remains to be seen. The trail began in 2010, when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a probe had begun into $11,000 that had gone missing from Operation Freedom, an annual fundraiser for military veterans and their families.

Rendell may have be suffering from memory loss about California and he may be unaware that the Republican he might have voted for probably is the target of a federal criminal investigation.   But then, this is the same Ed Rendell who recently commented of the Obama campaign's ad criticizing Bain Capital “I think they’re very disappointing.   I think Bain is fair game, because Romney has made it fair game. But I think how you examine it, the tone, what you say, is important as well.”    The same Ed Rendell, Alexander Burns of Politico recently pointed out

currently works for a law firm, Ballard Spahr, that has a big mergers-and-acquisitions practice, and sells its private-equity expertise in these terms: "Our more than 70 M&A/private equity attorneys represent buyers (both strategic and financial) and sellers ranging from small, privately held companies to multinational public companies in transactions that span small and middle markets to multibillion-dollar mergers. Because of the scale of our practice and depth of our deal experience, we are responsive to the unique requirements of every client and transaction, no matter the deal type or size or relevant industry."

Stuart Rattner, Harold Ford, Cory Booker, Ed Rendell- so Democratic when not financially inconvenient.

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