New Investigations and Suitcases of Money


Now boarding, El Al nonstop flight to Israel. Please make sure your suitcases of money are properly secured in the Prime Minister’s house. William Jefferson eat your heart out. An investigation into corruption in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s office led to a search of Olmert’s house where suitcases of money were found. The suitcases, containing hundreds of thousands in American dollars (I know what you’re thinking, American dollars, aren’t they worthless now), came from New York businessman Morris Talansky, referred to in coded transmissions as "the Laundry Man." Olmert denies any wrong doing, claiming that the money was for campaign purposes. Judah Grunstein at World Politics Review makes about the only observation one can:

I don’t know a whole lot about Israeli campaign finance laws, but I imagine that suitcases full of cash that go undeclared until a police raid on your home probably violate them.

Back here in the states, the Department of Justice opened a new investigation into the possible misuse of congressional staff by two offices. Reps. Jane Harman and Neil Abercrombie were accused of using congressional staff to do campaign work by a former staffer who recently plead guilty to fraud charges. It is a violation of House rules for congressional staff to do campaign work unless it is on their own time. This may also violate federal law statutes regarding the solicitation of political contributions from employees.

Both Harman and Abercrombie denied using staff for campaign work. It should also be noted that these violations rarely go anywhere. If anything, members get a slap on the wrist, which in congressional terms is a politely worded letter that stops short of admonishment. The House Ethics Committee should investigate this alleged misuse of campaign staff. They did recently when Rep. John Conyers was alleged to have forced a staffer to do campaign work and they should do so again. I’m not holding my breath though. (Sigh.)