UPDATED: Rothstein, Bailout Money, Ritter, and (Not) Taiwan
People ask, so what did you think about that Rothstein hearing? And I'm like, nothing much.
It's a sideshow. Ed Morse wants to cut in front of the line of the other victims to recoup his multimillion-dollar loss? Sure, and let's fund George "Whale" Levin's alleged losses with stimulus money and give Szafranski a MacArthur grant while we're at it.
Who cares, though? Seriously, these victims are fighting for scraps. The properties are depreciating, the toys brought some paltry millions at auction, and they're apparently still trying to get the $16 million out of Morocco's clutches (the lack of an extradition treaty also apparently extends to giant wire transfers of cash). Meanwhile, the feds are throwing some of Kimmie's jewelry back to her along with a few of Rothstein's watches at Nurik for being such a good monkey/lawyer. Were these baubles really pre-Ponzi? Again, who cares? Rothstein has helped make a lot of cases, so we better take care of his wife and attorney.
The real money is going to come from banks Toronto Dominion and Gibraltar in the civil lawsuit. And the real stories are going to come when the feds stand up, brush the thick dust off their dormant shoulders, and actually start throwing down some arrests. It's going to happen; the burning question is whether the busts go down before or after Rothstein finishes his 50-year prison sentence. At this rate, Charlie Crist is going to become a U.S. senator before half of his biggest contributors go off in handcuffs. Where's the justice in that?
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There's still fun coming, kidzzz. Unfortunately, it's literally slower than Christmas.
Speaking of federal stimulus money, you remember all those millions of dollars going into the disinformation campaign against Amendment 4? Well, the Hometown Democracy people point out that a whole lot of the businesses funding that campaign were recipients of recent recent federal bailouts.
Lennar contributed $367,000 to the "Citizens for Lower Taxes and a Stronger Economy" PAC after receiving a quarter-billion-dollar bailout. Pulte Homes put in $567,000; it received an incredible $800 million in bailout money. Ryland Homes, KB Homes, Beazer, Toll Brothers -- they all put big bucks into the PAC and got huge money from the federal government. In all, $2 million has gone into the anti-4 campaign from companies that received stimulus money. Worth noting.
Yesterday, we found out that Broward County Commissioner Ilene Lieberman -- currently under investigation in the Chait corruption probe -- has gone off to China for ten days, most of it paid for by a Chinese business group.
Inside, you can see some shots that apparently came from an even more dubious trip to the Orient from Lieberman's best friend on the commission.
UPDATED AND CORRECTED: The St. Petersburg Times indicated in a 2004 report that then-state Rep. Stacy Ritter made a trip to Taiwan. She did not. From a May 30, 2004 political column:
JUNKET WARNING: When more than a dozen state legislators returned home last week from an all-expense-paid, weeklong economic summit to Taiwan, it wasn't the first time such an elaborate junket had been considered.
Last October, Rep. Stacy Ritter, D-Coral Springs, asked House lawyers whether such a trip was legal under Florida's ethics laws.
The answer: No.
"It is my opinion that you may not accept this offer," House counsel Tom Tedcastle wrote.
His advice was based on the fact that the Republic of China on Taiwan lobbied lawmakers in 2003 to get a resolution passed. Tedcastle noted in a memo that lawmakers can't accept gifts from a lobbying entity for 12 months after the end of the session.
The trip went off this month instead - safely outside the one-year prohibition.
Russell Klenet, and I'm assuming it is the real Russell Klenet, says in a comment below that Ritter has never been to Taiwan. I'll take that at face value and apologize for my error in assuming that the trip occurred. NEW: Ritter just called and confirmed she has never been to Taiwan.
Below are pictures that, according to Klenet's comments, come from a 2009 visit in Coral Gables with a Taiwanese diplomat. Apparently City Furniture owner Keith Koenig (a Ritter campaign contributor in the past) and Broward airport director Kent George also went along. Also there is Klenet. Here are photos:
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