Monday, April 10, 2017

Last Call For Bitter Home Alabama, Con't

Alabama GOP Gov. Robert Bentley has now resigned effective today, as the impeachment scandal involving his affair with Rebekah Mason, a former staffer, and his use of state police resources to try to cover up the affair has led his own party to begin formal impeachment hearings.  Rather than face ouster and a trial over felony corruption charges, Bentley is resigning and pleading to misdemeanor charges instead.

Embattled Gov. Robert Bentley this afternoon agreed to a deal that forced him to resign the office of governor, plead guilty to two misdemeanors and agree to never again hold public office.

The extraordinary agreement, hammered out over the weekend and throughout the day by lawyers for the Alabama Attorney General's office and Bentley attorneys Chuck Malone and Cooper Shattuck, requires Bentley to repay the state for misused funds and perform community service.

In response, the state attorney general's office will not pursue other felonies against Bentley, including those referred for prosecution last week by the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Bentley, as part of the deal, was expected to:
  • Resign immediately and leave public life.
  • Plead guilty to two campaign violations: converting campaign contributions for personal gain and failing to report campaign contributions.
  • Serve one year of probation.
  • Perform 100 hours of unpaid community service as a physician.
  • Repay the $8,912 his campaign spent on the legal fees of former aide Rebekah Mason, whose involvement with Bentley led to the charges against him.
  • Forfeit all the money in his campaign account, which is currently $36,912. The money will go into state coffers.

In response, the state attorney general's office will not pursue other felonies against Bentley, including those referred for prosecution last week by the Alabama Ethics Commission.

Whether the governor faces jail time on the misdemeanors - which are technically punishable by as much as a year in prison - is left to the judge who will sentence him. It is unlikely he will serve time.

He won't.  But the misdemeanors mean Bentley won't pull a Blagojevich and contest a conviction on state ethics laws.  Considering Bentley was facing the rest of his natural life in prison at age 77, he's taking the easy out his party is giving him.  100 hours of community service is a cakewalk compared to what he was going to get.

Another crooked Republican goes down.  Hopefully he won't be the last to resign in 2017.

A Double Helping Of The House Special, Please

I've talked about Democrat Jon Ossoff in Georgia running for now HHS Secretary Tom Price's seat in Georgia's 6th in what would be a major upset, but it turns out there's another special election for now CIA Director Mike Pompeo's old seat in Kansas' 4th district tomorrow, and Democrat James Thompson actually has an outside shot in that race.  Roll Call's Nathan Gonzales:

Former Capitol Hill aide Jon Ossoff, 30, is riding the Democratic energy stemming from Trump’s election and raised an astounding $8.3 million in the first three months of the year — a staggering amount for a House candidate. For some perspective, former Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland took an entire cycle to raise $10.7 million for his Ohio Senate race last year.

In the beginning, Ossoff looked like a long shot to make the June 20 runoff, but now he has the opportunity to win the race outright by winning a majority in the open primary later this month. Democrats are dominating early voting and, most importantly, could be changing the makeup of the electorate by turning out low propensity voters.

Most public and private polls have Ossoff in the low to mid-40s and leading the field by a wide margin. Based on his position, the difficulty of accurately predicting special election turnout, the polls’ margins of error, and Ossoff’s financial advantage, we are changing the Inside Elections rating from Lean Republican to Toss-Up.

You can read the full analysis about the rating change in the April 7 issue of Inside Elections.

Republicans are also trying to avoid an unexpected problem in Kansas’ 4th District, where Mike Pompeo vacated his seat to become CIA director.

The April 11 race between Republican state Treasurer Ron Estes and Democrat James Thompson, a lawyer, hasn’t received a lot of attention, but the National Republican Congressional Committee recently began an ad campaign in a district Trump carried comfortably in November. National and local Democrats haven’t put in much time or effort into the race, but there is some GOP concern about the enthusiasm gap and the quality of the Estes campaign.

We’re changing the Inside Elections rating from Solid Republican to Likely Republican. You can read more analysis on the race in the April 7 issue of Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales.

Ossoff has a better shot than Thompson does, but Pompeo won this bright-red district by 25-30 points since 2010. the fact that Thompson might make the race closer that double-digits is news in and of itself.

And of course the 800-pound orangutan in the room is Trump's sub-35% approval rating.  If he's worth this big of a shift towards the Democrats so far in special elections less than three months in, by the time November 2018 rolls around it could be a bloodbath for Team Red.

In related news I see this morning that Tom Perez and Ben Ray Lujan are already having a positive effect on bringing back the "50 states and every seat" strategy as the Democrats are making moves to flip seats in that reddest of red enclaves in California, Orange County.

Stay tuned, especially in Georgia.

Crime and Punishment And Punishment And Punishment

Keep in mind that the goal of "criminal justice reform" to the Trump regime and AG Jeff Sessions is not reversing Obama-era improvements or even going back to the bad old days of the Clinton crime bill, but to fully profitize the prison industry and create a permanent criminal underclass source for forced labor for local and state governments out of poor black and Hispanic kids destined to be stuffed into the prison pipeline from day one.   And the man you want to look to for this is Jeff Sessions's new point man on criminal justice, Steven Cook.

When the Obama administration launched a sweeping policy to reduce harsh prison sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, rave reviews came from across the political spectrum. Civil rights groups and the Koch brothers praised Obama for his efforts, saying he was making the criminal justice system more humane.

But there was one person who watched these developments with some horror. Steven H. Cook, a former street cop who became a federal prosecutor based in Knoxville, Tenn., saw nothing wrong with how the system worked — not the life sentences for drug charges, not the huge growth of the prison population. And he went everywhere — Bill O’Reilly’s show on Fox News, congressional hearings, public panels — to spread a different gospel.

“The federal criminal justice system simply is not broken. In fact, it’s working exactly as designed,” Cook said at a criminal justice panel at The Washington Post last year.

The Obama administration largely ignored Cook, who was then president of the National Association of Assistant U.S. Attorneys. But he won’t be overlooked anymore.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has brought Cook into his inner circle at the Justice Department, appointing him to be one of his top lieutenants to help undo the criminal justice policies of Obama and former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. As Sessions has traveled to different cities to preach his tough-on-crime philosophy, Cook has been at his side.

Sessions has yet to announce specific policy changes, but Cook’s new perch speaks volumes about where the Justice Department is headed.

Law enforcement officials say that Sessions and Cook are preparing a plan to prosecute more drug and gun cases and pursue mandatory minimum sentences. The two men are eager to bring back the national crime strategy of the 1980s and ’90s from the peak of the drug war, an approach that had fallen out of favor in recent years as minority communities grappled with the effects of mass incarceration.

Crime is near historic lows in the United States, but Sessions says that the spike in homicides in several cities, including Chicago, is a harbinger of a “dangerous new trend” in America that requires a tough response.

If you want to know what's coming to America's cities in the next few years, think a Ferguson, Missouri in every state and you're starting to get the picture.  Turning drug possession crimes into felonies makes it easier to disenfranchise them, as well as control them.  This "dangerous new trend" is something Trump has been pushing for years, the idea that urban centers full of blue voters are somehow lawless hellholes that need massive police presences.

It's an old story, but the stakes are much higher now.


Related Posts with Thumbnails