Who might a ‘President Rand Paul’ pardon in bribery scandal? Sunday, Sep 21 2014 

Sen. Rand Paul. (Facebook)
Economic Policy Journal's Robert Wenzel has published an intriguing analysis of the 'prisoner dilemmas' now facing Senator Mitch McConnell's former campaign manager Jesse Benton, as well as former McConnell consultant Dimitri Kesari.

Wenzel's analysis triggers rational minds to formulate questions like: If the subjects were cooperating with the investigation, why would the FBI need to issue subpoenas? How are Benton, Kesari, and Paul going to get out of this? Why has Kesari chosen counsel from within the Paul circle of influence? Is it in the best interest of Kesari to play along?

Recap: Both Benton and Kesari appear to be subjects of a FBI bribery scandal investigation involving former Iowa State Senator Kent Sorenson's endorsement of former Congressman Ron Paul's 2012 bid for president. Since Sorenson has accepted a plea deal, we know at least one Paul campaign operative, if not a plethora, will face indictment in time. It takes at least two to tango.

Paul, Benton, and Kesari were already hoping on a victory for Senator Rand Paul 's 2016 bid for the U.S. presidency. But I postulate, the three are also counting on the victory to enable a "President Rand Paul" to conveniently relieve them of their potential convictions, as well as commute their potential sentences.

The President of the United States has the power to pardon or commute sentences. From Article II, Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution:
"...he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment."
Would Rand Paul go through with it? It would be reasonable for him to pardon his father, and if he wants peace with his sister, he would surely pardon his niece's husband, Benton. But Kesari? Why bother?

Remember Susan McDougal? She was the only person prosecuted for the Arkansas Whitewater scandal that threatened the presidential aspirations of former President Bill Clinton. For her refusal to answer three questions about Bill Clinton's knowledge, she 'took one for the team' as they say.

McDougal was not related to Clinton, like Kesari is not related to the Rand Paul. Clinton waited to pardon McDougal until his last day as president, and by that time she had already served her full 18-month sentence (6 months of that sentence was spent in solitary confinement.)

Does Kesari actually believe that Rand Paul's election is a sure thing? If so, is he delusional enough to believe Rand Paul will show more compassion than Bill Clinton? Or is he both as loyal and disinterested in justice as McDougal?

9/21/14 Update:
How'd I miss this? Apparently Rand Paul has no problem with the pardons. From Christopher Weber in Politics Daily in 2010:
Rand wrote a newspaper opinion piece four [now eight] years ago, when then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher was under investigation for allegedly violating state hiring laws, The Associated Press reported. Paul, then a Bowling Green eye doctor, wrote in the now-defunct Kentucky Post that if he were Fletcher, he would simply pardon himself. 
"What would I do if I were governor? First, I'd have pardoned myself and everyone included nearly a year ago," Paul, a Republican, wrote in the Aug. 23, 2006 article. "Without a pardon the case goes on and on."

Another Mitch McConnell Tie to National Right to Work Scandal Friday, Sep 19 2014 

Doug Stafford, Source: Politico.
Sen. Mitch McConnell disbursed a total of $30,000 to the wife of National Right to Work Vice President Doug Stafford in 2013 for “fundraising consulting” according to his campaign's latest FEC report.  

In their report, the McConnell campaign listed a prestigious residential address in D.C. only blocks from the Capitol for Elizabeth Stafford. Incidentally, from Politico's profile of Doug Stafford:

"To minimize his commute and maximize his time at home when he took the Senate job, Stafford moved his family from western Fairfax to five blocks from the Capitol.

The Long Island native, who attended the University of Maryland, has four daughters — 21, 14, 5 and 17 months. He and his second wife, Elizabeth, adopted the youngest."
Doug Stafford has been implicated as spearheading an illegal off-the-books mass mail operation ran in coordination with legislative candidates through National Right to Work. The scheme was exposed by whistleblower Dennis Fusaro through the release of a secret recording to blogger Lee Stranahan and a letter from Fusaro to the NRTW board recommending they clean their own house.

Beth Stafford’s Linkedin profile
Elizabeth Stafford, if she is a fundraising consultant, keeps a low profile in that role on the internet. According to Linkedin"Beth Stafford" is a former Sen. Elizabeth Dole staffer who was employed as a Government Affairs Manager in D.C. for drug giant AmerisourceBergen while the McConnell campaign was paying "Elizabeth Stafford" as their fundraising consulting.

Dimitri Kesari, who was also paid as a McConnell consultant, and implicated as the 'bagman' in a separate Iowan bribery scandal, is at the heart of the RTW scandal as well. From report by Russ Choma with Open Secrets headlined McConnell Campaign Hired Key Figure In National Right To Work Complaint, Records Show:
"Kesari is a key figure in the new allegations: He was, at the time, NRTWC’s director of government affairs. An email exchange provided by Dennis Fusaro, the former NRTWC employee making the allegations, shows Kesari scolding Fusaro for pulling full-time staff paid by NRTWC from a candidate’s campaign without consulting the candidate; Kesari also criticized Fusaro for not keeping another candidate closely involved with the Iowans for Right To Work mass mail program."
Doug Stafford is now in charge of Sen. Rand Paul's 2016 presidential campaign, although he previously served as Paul’s top senate staffer. 

(Note: I first wrote here about the National Right to Work in March 2012:
Assessing threat level of 'right to work' in Kentucky

Update 9/20/2014 1:35AM: McConnell insider Bill Marshall didn't get the memo about disassociating the campaign from scandal. On Facebook yesterday:

In Other News… Rand Paul on Ferguson, El Camino love, and Lawrence turns 24 Friday, Aug 15 2014 

Rand PaulPaul Speaks on Ferguson: Ferguson, Mo. resident Michael Brown, 18, was shot on Saturday afternoon following a struggle with a Ferguson police officer, according to St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar. Police and protesters have clashed nightly since. USA Today … Continue reading

In Other News…Rand Paul, Forecastle, Mike Myers paints Colonel Sanders, GE and the Katniss workout Friday, Jul 18 2014 

Mike Myers and his museTech Savvy: TIME, The San Francisco Chronicle and Politico report that Sen. Rand Paul has a busy weekend coming up—he’s the keynote speaker at San Francisco’s Lincoln Labs Reboot 2014. Dubbed a “conservatarian” tech event, it’s an effort to reach … Continue reading

In Other News…McConnell’s latest strategy, Bridgewater draft follow-up, Atherton anti-discrimination Friday, May 16 2014 

Mitch McConnell and Elaine ChaoOnce More Into the Breach: The primary isn’t until next week, but as we’ve discussed of late, the McConnell campaign is already gazing toward November and the general election opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes. And according to an in-depth feature in … Continue reading

In Other News… turns 1 today! Special Birthday edition! Friday, Apr 25 2014 

Happy Birthday to meHappy Birthday!: The mighty “In Other News…” column celebrates its first year this week, friends. A full year, we’ve been doing this, by golly. And what were we talking about in that first column on April 26, 2013? The trending … Continue reading

In Other News… KFC wearable chicken, Paul/McConnell tensions, Schimmel to WNBA Friday, Apr 18 2014 

I don't even...The End of Days: The Bible says no one will know exactly when and where the apocalypse will go down, but I think we have a contender. In a most unholy alliance, KFC has teamed with local florist Nanz & … Continue reading

Oy! Rand Paul drawing wrath of GOP mega-donors in Israel lobby Wednesday, Apr 2 2014 

If you thought Kentucky was going to have its second president, think again. At least that’s the take of Time Magazine, The Washington Post, The Hill, Reason.com and every other political website reporting how Sen. Rand Paul has managed to … Continue reading

Bracket Distractions — Arts and Business and Politics Sunday, Mar 16 2014 

It’s always good to have some friends who don’t pay attention to the same things you do — it offers perspective. What’s important to you (whether U of  L will be a #2 seed or #3 seed in the NCAA bracket) is like speaking a foreign language, I’m guessing, to someone like Les Waters, the artistic director at Actors’ Theatre and my guest on the Rusty Satellite Show this week.



On the other hand, I suspect that my other guest, El Toro exec Stacy Griggs, can probably tell you how many points Russ Smith got (42) against Houston in the AAC Tournament. I asked neither Les or Stacy about basketball, so I’m guessing here. We all seem to know a lot about something, which is what makes finding guests for the Rusty show kinda fun.

When I was the editor of the NCAA Basketball Championship game programs, for instance, I knew the names of the head coaches and the nicknames of every Division I team. When I was syndicating a TV show to stations across the country, I knew the call letters and network affiliation of every station in the U.S.  At WKU 30 years ago, I learned a lot about constellations (those 3 stars in a row are Orion’s belt). There are a lot of experts on college basketball, or at least you would think so, if you listen to local talk radio or watch ESPN.

But being able to talk with authority about the Blue Jays (Creighton) and Shockers (Wichita State, the only unbeaten team going into the tourney) won’t help you fill out your brackets with accuracy. That’s what makes it fun.  Remember that you are as likely to pick a 14 seed upsetting a 3 seed as Digger Phelps. And none of those so-called experts will pick a perfect bracket (even with a billion dollars on the line).

I know that memorizing lists of trivial knowledge is great for impressing folks at cocktail parties. That’s because I used to recite Kentucky Derby winners that I memorized by studying Derby glasses. Attorney general Jack Conway knows the same trick.

Which is all to say that even though a LOT of people are focused today on the NCAA Final Four tournament field, I know several who wouldn’t recognize Rick Pitino if they saw him in line at a drug store (which I’ve done, btw).

I am among those interested in the tournament, though, and will be running a bracket contest at work, like a lot you will be. And having watched Pitino’s team all season, I don’t see the Cards losing short of the Final Four. It may be the most fun-to-watch group ever assembled around here, or anywhere. After winning the AAC title, Pitino told a TV audience he thinks his team should be a #1 seed, and the world of basketball watchers learned a new term — Pitino and the pundits now love saying the Cards passed the “eye test” (C-J headline: “Pitino’s pupils should pass NCAA eye test”).

Next Thursday and Friday, when U of L and UK will play their first-round games, Louisville viewers will find ways to tune in and make our city #1 in the country — for TV sets tuned to hoops. Office productivity will hit a low that won’t be matched until Oaks Day, and you’ll still have hope that you can win that office bracket pool, even if you had Arizona going all the way and they lose to Siena.

I’m rambling, I know, perhaps thinking of Dave Barry’s appearance at the Library Wednesday night. But here are the top stories, outside of basketball, discussed on the Rusty show this week:

Omni Hotel Downtown — The Omni could transform downtown, and is reason for optimism — bringing a long-needed grocery downtown along with the luxury rooms and apartments. The downside — a key player is the Cordish Cos., which was central to a huge scandal over a loan from the city at Fourth Street Live! a few years back. The block – between 2nd and 3rd and Ali and Liberty — was once talked about as the ideal place for what became the Yum! Center. Let’s credit Mayor Fischer (for now) for bringing it all together.

Among other things state lawmakers won’t accomplish is a smoking ban –  the list of ideas that aren’t getting done include casino gambling, local option sales tax, hemp, and marijuana legalization. The state session has produced plenty of talk about guns in bars, guns in schools, abortion restrictions and whether Kentucky students should be taught science or creationism.

Republicans Courting African-Americans – I’d compare Kentucky Republicans courting votes in the West End to sending Obama supporters to Leslie County in the eastern Kentucky coalfields. (Obama got 8.75% of the 2012 vote there). But Rand Paul’s support of voting rights for convicted felons and other key issues important to African-Americans could sway some votes there.

For next week — Former Rusty guest and C-J editor Neil Budde would be glad to know I took the paper up on a limited-time-free offer and read three stories making news this week — Joe Gerth’s column correctly points out that Jack Conway is not required by law to appeal that same-sex marriage ruling, and he blasts (without saying his name) WDRB’s Bill Lamb for “huffing” about it. U of L’s administration has taken to paying off former employees with lavish, and undeserved, payoffs simply to keep their mouths shut. And a special report reveals that Kentucky’s drug abuse problem, as it relates to babies being born addicted to drugs, is exploding. Few in our city will find sympathy for the two women profiled in Laura Ungar’s piece — both pregnant with multiple children born with their mothers’ addictions.

Let’s watch some hoops! Les Waters of Actors' Theatre El Toro's Stacy Griggs


In Other News…McConnell, Cards to crush opponents, and Louisville’s dubious rankings Friday, Mar 14 2014 

The Crusher: The New York Times ran a piece this week suggesting Senator and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed to take down the Tea Party. Says Sen. McConnell: “I think we are going to crush them everywhere…I don’t think they … Continue reading

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