Media continue to tout Democrats' campaign finance issues, but not Republicans'

››› ››› MATT GERTZ & NIKI JAGPAL

On MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough and guest Craig Crawford discussed a fund-raiser for Hillary Clinton who Scarborough said was "on the lam again" and referred to John Edwards' "hedge fund problems " and Barack Obama's "fund-raiser problem." However, neither Scarborough nor Crawford noted that leading Republican presidential candidates are facing questions regarding figures involved in their campaign finances.

On the September 6 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, host Joe Scarborough said that Norman Hsu -- a Democratic contributor and fund-raiser for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's (D-NY) campaigns -- was "on the lam again," referring to Hsu's failure to appear in a San Mateo, California, court on September 5 to address charges pending against him. Scarborough asked guest Craig Crawford of Congressional Quarterly whether this was "bad news" for Clinton, and Crawford replied that "Democrats aren't taking her on because of glass houses," adding "You know, [former Sen. John] Edwards [NC] has his hedge fund problems, [Sen. Barack] Obama [IL] has a fund-raiser problem himself in Chicago." However, neither Scarborough nor Crawford noted that leading Republican presidential candidates are facing questions regarding figures involved in their campaign finances.

Additionally, in a September 6 post on the New York Times blog The Caucus, reporting on the arrest of Passaic, New Jersey, Mayor Samuel Rivera -- a former member Clinton's "Mayor's Council" -- Patrick Healy asserted that "Clinton advisers this spring and summer have been aggressively touting their long list of endorsements from elected officials and prominent Democratic donors, to indicate the breadth of establishment support that Mrs. Clinton enjoys," and continued: "Yet, in the case of Mr. Hsu and now Mayor Rivera, the criminal allegations indicate a cost that can come with quickly rounding up political support from far and wide." But, like Scarborough and Crawford, Healy did not mention any of the numerous individuals who have supported Republican presidential candidates and have been subject to "criminal allegations." For example:

Mitt Romney supporters

  • As Media Matters for America has documented, Romney's national finance committee co-chairman Alan B. Fabian was, according to an August 9 Associated Press article, "charged in a 23-count indictment unsealed Thursday [August 9] with mail fraud, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice." The AP reported that Fabian "allegedly ran a scheme to make $32 million in false purchases of computer equipment, spending the money instead on beach real estate and private jet travel." Fabian resigned from Romney's finance committee shortly after being indicted, and the Romney campaign said it would return Fabian's $2,300 contribution, but not, however, "contributions from donors who were recruited by or have ties to Fabian," as The Boston Globe reported.
  • According to a June 20 article in The Hill, "133 plaintiffs have alleged that Robert Lichfield, co-chairman of Romney's Utah finance committee owned or operated residential boarding schools for troubled teenagers where students were 'subjected to physical abuse, emotional abuse and sexual abuse.' " The article also noted that a second lawsuit "alleges that Lichfield and several partners entered into a scheme to defraud them by operating an unlicensed boarding school in upstate New York." The Deseret Morning News (Utah) reported September 7 that Lichfeld "resigned on his own accord" in July, according to a Romney spokeswoman.

Rudy Giuliani supporters

  • Giuliani's former South Carolina state chairman, former South Carolina Treasurer Thomas Ravenel, pleaded guilty September 6 "to a federal charge of possession with intent to distribute cocaine," as the Associated Press noted. According to the AP, Ravenel "faces up to 20 years in prison and a $1 million fine, though his plea agreement calls for a reduced sentence because he is helping prosecutors with their investigation." On June 20, the New York Post reported that Ravenal had stepped down from his "volunteer responsibilities with the campaign" following his indictment, according to Giuliani political director Mark Campbell.
  • The New York Times reported June 7 that Robert B. Asher, "a prominent Pennsylvania Republican and prolific fund-raiser," had recently acknowledged to donors that he had agreed to be the state political chairman for Giuliani. The article noted that Asher "was convicted in 1986 of bribery-related charges as part of a scheme to award a no-bid contract to a company in exchange for promises of $300,000 in payoffs and political contributions." According to a July 10 post on The Caucus, "[o]nly after public reports that Mr. Asher had been convicted in a famous public corruption case two decades earlier did the campaign back away from the choice."
  • John Wren, the "Media/PR/Advertising Industry Leader" for Giuliani's finance team, faced fraud allegations as the CEO of Omnicom, for "off-loading" certain personal stocks to avoid recording any operating losses associated with those investments. The December 13, 2006, edition (subscription required) of Jack O'Dwyer's Newsletter, a weekly publication that covers the public relations industry, reported:

Court papers that Omnicom has been trying to keep sealed for five years have been made public and they detail charges of fraud against CEO John Wren and CFO Randall Weisenburger as well as charges against OMC itself.

Wren and Weisenburger are said to have participated in the 'off-loading' of certain dot-com investments in 2000-2001 via personal ownership of stock and stock options and personal control of entities and that this was not fully reported to the SEC or even OMC's board of directors.

[...]

It's charged that OMC 'parked' interests that it held in Agency.com and Organic with related-party entities to avoid recording operating losses linked with those investments. OMC ultimately took private the two entities it repurchased from Seneca.

CEO John Wren and CFO Randall Weisenburger are said to be involved in the 'parking' of stock in Organic that they personally owned.

Media Matters for America has noted several media outlets that have touted alleged scandals involving supporters of Democratic presidential candidates, while ignoring those involving individuals who support Republicans:

  • During his September 5 washingtonpost.com "Post Politics" discussion, Washington Post money and politics reporter John Solomon was asked why a September 3 Post article he co-wrote with staff writer Matthew Mosk -- which discussed "a growing number of fundraisers in the 2008 presidential campaign whose backgrounds have prompted questions" -- did not mention that "Mitt Romney's national finance co-chairman, Alan B. Fabian, recently was indicted on 23 counts of money laundering, fraud, perjury, and obstruction of justice, among other crimes." The version of the article published by the Post mentioned only scandals involving supporters of Democratic candidates. Solomon responded by claiming that "my colleague Matt Mosk and I reported on the Romney matter." But rather than discussing Fabian, Solomon proceeded to claim that they had included a paragraph about another Romney fundraiser in their draft of the article: "Likewise, Republican Mitt Romney faced questions about one of his Utah finance chairmen, Robert Lichfield, because of lawsuits he is facing alleging abusive treatment at boarding schools he founded to handle troubled youths." Solomon added: "Unfortunately, it was edited out. That sometimes happen when stories get trimmed to make room for late-breaking news."
  • A September 5 New York Times editorial criticizing presidential candidates' use of "bundlers" -- fundraisers who solicit friends, family, and associates to make campaign contributions to specific candidates -- said that "Senator Hillary Clinton has been burned twice lately by so-called bundlers." The editorial noted specifically, "One Clinton bundler turned out to have an outstanding arrest warrant for business fraud; the other has a history of tax liens, fraud charges and bankruptcy proceedings on two continents," apparent references to Hsu, the person with a warrant against him, and Sant Chatwal, who, according to a September 3 Washington Post report, "resolved the last" of the regulatory and tax charges against him "this spring." The Times went on to note that "[o]ther candidates in both parties have been similarly embarrassed" but did not specifically mention any Republican candidate.
  • Between August 28 and August 31, NBC, CNN, and Fox News all aired reports or discussions on Hsu, but did not air reports or discussions about Fabian's indictment on mail fraud, money laundering, bankruptcy fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice charges during programs available in the Nexis database.

From the September 6 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe:

SCARBOROUGH: Let's talk about Hillary Clinton for a second. This big fund-raiser of hers is on the lam again. Is this bad news for Hillary Clinton?

CRAWFORD: It ought to be, but the Democrats aren't taking her on because of glass houses. You know, Edwards has his hedge fund problems, Obama has a fund-raiser problem himself in Chicago.

SCARBOROUGH: In Chicago, right.

CRAWFORD: It's been interesting to see how the Republicans are beating her up, but the Democrats have been real quiet. So, she had a terrible last couple of weeks of August actually. She had her little slip-up -- some saw it that way -- talking about how another terrorist attack would help the Republicans and she's the only Democrat who can fight that. People thought that was a bit of a misstep. But lucky for her, there was a lot else going on, [Sen.] Larry Craig [R-ID] and other things, when she was having a couple of her worst weeks so far, at least in the preseason.

SCARBOROUGH: Yeah.

MATTHEW FELLING (media director of the Center for Media and Public Affairs): What was it about -- she made some sort of a mistake last week. She did Ellen the other day, and she's trying to build it up through pop culture support. And she did Letterman last week, I believe, and the Clintons are coming out with their whole new media campaign right about now.

CRAWFORD: And Clinton -- I mean, Bill Clinton's got a book out. So he's all over the place. Larry King, I think, Letterman also, and Oprah.

SCARBOROUGH: But again, that doesn't' help her with her base. It's kind of like Fred Thompson on The Tonight Show. That's more of a general election strategy.

CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think they're trying to clamp down. She's the one to beat. She's on top thinking about the general election that certainly has to -- she has run, I have to give her and [Republican candidate Rudy] Giuliani the nods for the preseason. They both won their preseason.

SCARBOROUGH: That's right.

CRAWFORD: Now everything could change. Because they have talented people against them and enough time, I think, for things to change.

SCARBOROUGH: We'll see what happens. Preseason is over.

Posted In
Elections, Campaign Finance
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Person
Joe Scarborough, Craig Crawford
Show/Publication
Morning Joe
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, 2008 Elections
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