The Corruption of Political Money

In 25 years of journalism and then the political consulting/PR/lobbying business, I have seen a lot of politicians say a lot of things.

But the comments last week by the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., are the worst I have seen. Maybe it’s because they pertain to two issues that make my blood boil – Harvey Weinstein and Trump – two sociopathic predators with power way beyond their abilities.

Or maybe I am just tired of the lying.

The background – In 2012, Vance dropped a CRIMINAL case against Ivanka Trump and her brother Donald over possible fraud in the way they pitched a SoHo hotel/condo project to buyers. (They lied about how many units had been purchased and they lied about it being in SoHo). Conflict alert – Ivanka Trump’s husband Jared Kushner owns a housing development in Long Branch, NJ along my beloved Jersey shore, thus sullying it forever.

Then in 2015, Vance chose not to charge Harvey Weinstein for sexual assault charges. (The cops had him on tape)

You can hear it here

http://video.newyorker.com/watch/harvey-weinstein-caught-on-tape

IN BOTH CASES – lawyers representing the Trumps and Weinstein made campaign contributions to Vance, in one case AFTER the lawyer knew about the possible charges.

Vance – in his best Casablanca act – says he would NEVER allow a contribution to affect his work. That’s BS, even for a guy with a solid reputation like Vance.

One of the casualties of the Internet-fueled, partisan political war we find ourselves in is the changing nature of political money.

In bygone days, there were still people who gave to a campaign because they believed in the political process and that good people should occupy public office. That is still the case here in Vermont, where you can go down the donor lists and see $25 from a former governor to a candidate – because it’s important for the system to be run by good people.

No more. I have been in the rooms where these donations are discussed. The people asking for them and the people giving them are locked in an embrace of corruption that is destroying the ability of our Congress and other public servants to do good work.

Vance may or may not have pursued the Trump and Weinstein cases without the campaign contributions.

But let’s be clear about one thing. The motivations of the donors giving those checks were NOT about a clean political system. They gave the money to influence a public official for their dirty clients. That is how it works now. The politician knows it and the donors know it.