At Reason, Jacob Sullum explains the story of the corrupt Judge in PA who received payments for in turn sending business to corrections facilities:
Mark Ciavarella, the corrupt Pennsylvania judge who is the subject of my column today, prided himself on taking a tough, no-nonsense approach to juvenile offenders, refusing to accept excuses or consider mitigating factors. It is therefore bitterly amusing to read his testimony during his federal trial, when he twisted himself into knots while trying to explain away the $2.9 million in kickbacks that he and another Luzerne County judge, Michael Conahan, received from two private detention centers they helped establish and kept in business. Ciavarella said $2.1 million of that was a “finder’s fee” that the contractor who built the juvenile jails, Robert Mericle, volunteered to pay him after he introduced Mericle to Robert Powell, co-owner of the company that ran the jails…
We’ve written here about this story several times, and the details are horrifying. A deeply corrupt man was elected by the people to do one thing, and then sold out the public to corporations. It’s a classic case of moneyed business interests using the government we set up to benefit the population at large, but using it to enrich themselves and the powerful few at the expense of the public. It’s shameful.
But how is it any different from this:
Walker was elected just over three months ago on the heels of an exceptionally expensive gubernatorial race in the Badger State, fueled by groups funded by the Koch brothers, David and Charles. David Koch, the son of a radical founding member of the John Birch Society, which has long been obsessed with claims about socialism and advocated the repeal of civil rights laws, personally donated $1 million to the Republican Governors Association (RGA) in June of last year. This was the most he had ever personally given to that group. (Fellow billionaire Rupert Murdoch matched Koch’s donation to the RGA with a $1 million donation from his company News Corporation, parent company of FOX “News” Channel.)
Screen Shot of RGAs 5 million Investment in WalkerThe RGA in turn spent $5 million in the race, mostly on TV ads attacking Walker’s political opponent, Democratic Mayor Tom Barrett. As this photo shows, the RGA described itself as a “key investor” in Walker’s victory. In its congratulations, the RGA notes that it “ran a comprehensive campaign including TV and internet ads and direct mail. The series of ads were devastating to Tom Barrett … All told, RGA ran 8 TV ads and sent 8 pieces of mail for absentee, early voting, and GOTV, totaling 2.9 million pieces.”
Walker then turned around and did this:
s the nation focuses on the efforts of Governor Scott Walker to take away collective bargaining rights from public employees in Wisconsin, new information is coming to light that reveals what is truly going on here.
Mother Jones is reporting that much of the funding behind the Walker for Governor campaign came from none other than uber-conservatives, the infamous Koch Brothers.
What’s more, the plan to kill the unions is right out of the Koch Brothers play book.
Koch-backed groups like Americans for Prosperity, the Cato Institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the Reason Foundation have long taken a very antagonistic view toward public-sector unions. Several of these groups have urged the eradication of these unions. The Kochs also invited Mark Mix, president of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, an anti-union outfit, to a June 2010 confab in Aspen, Colorado;
Via Mother Jones
If you are reluctant to believe that this is a coordinated attack, consider this-
This afternoon, Marty Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin Public Workers Union, sent a message to the Governor’s office agreeing to the cuts to pension & welfare benefits sought by Walker in his bill. The governor’s response was “nothing doing.” He wants the whole kit and kaboodle – the end of the collective bargaining rights of the public unions.
The Capital Times reported on Tuesday that Koch Industries had quietly opened a lobby shop in Madison. This news comes amid concerns about the influence of the company and the billionaire brothers who lead it ,and the bankrolling of multi-million dollar ad campaigns like the one that helped sweep controversial governor Scott Walker into office. The company’s political action committee was also one of the largest PAC donors to contribute directly to Walker’s election, giving his campaign $43,000, second only to the realtor PAC. Amid controversy swirling around a provision in the budget bill Walker introduced that would allow his administration to sell off state heating, cooling and power plants or their operations “for any amount” in no-bid contracts and without any external oversight, Koch Industries denied last night that it was interested purchasing power plants here to go along with its pipeline, refinery, and coal companies in the state.
According to Judy Davidoff, their operation “Koch Companies Public Sector — Legal, Government, Public Affairs” opened steps from the Wisconsin capitol the week Walker was inaugurated as governor. The lobby firm moved into the seventh floor suite two weeks before the November election was held.
The Center for Media and Democracy told the Cap Times Tuesday, “It’s curious that the Kochs have apparently expanded their lobbying presence just as Walker was sworn into office and immediately before a budget was unveiled that would allow the executive branch unilateral power to sell off public utilities in this state in no-bid contracts.” CMD was referring to Section 16.896 of Walker’s controversial budget “repair” bill that would vest the Walker administration with unilateral authority to sell off or lease the operation of the state’s cooling and heating plants in no-bid contracts.
If you would like to talk to Governor Walker about all this stuff, well, good luck. His line is busy, unless you are on of the Koch brothers:
Here’s something for your “can this possibly be for real” file this morning. Over at the Buffalo Beast — the former print alt-weekly turned online newspaper founded by onetime editor Matt Taibbi, typically best known for its annual list of “The 50 Most Loathsome Americans” — there appear to be recordings of a phone call between Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and current editor Ian Murphy. Now, why on earth would Scott Walker want to talk on the phone with the editor of an online site in Buffalo? Well, he wouldn’t.
But what if said editor pretended to be David Koch of the famed Koch Brothers? Well, that’s a different story altogether, apparently! And so Walker, believing himself to be on the phone with his patron, seems to have had a long conversation about busting Wisconsin’s unions.
Buffalo Beast Publisher Paul Fallon told The Huffington Post that the audio is “absolutely legit.” That the call took place as described by the Beast has been confirmed by Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie.
Moneyed special interests use a man in a position of elected public power to enrich themselves greatly at the expense of the public. The only difference between the corrupt Judge Ciavarellla and Gov. Walker is that the latter was planned, while the former just got lucky to find an amoral scumbag they knew presiding as a judge.