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‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the House, many creatures were stirring, making criminal referrals of former presidents and fighting over the federal budget which we all know has to pass. In the middle of this activity, just when you thought it couldn’t become more bizarre, Politico is reporting that Kellyanne Conway sold her political consulting and polling firm to Leonard Leo of the Federalist Society while serving influentially within the Trump White House on key judicial appointments, including Supreme Court justices. Huh? Say what? Isn’t this close to an outright bribe? Already too much Republican judicial selection has been outsourced to the Federalist Society. They didn’t need to pay for access. They already had it.
The transaction, as described by Politico, appears to have been designed to conceal. A Leo-controlled dark money fundraising company made a loan to another Leo-controlled company that made the purchase from Conway. Politico reporters uncovered this through what seems to have been a simple UCC search. Who knows how active husband George was in the deal. Before he became famous as a never-Trumper he was an active member of the Federalist Society. It’s hard to believe they needed the money, given what Wachtell Lipton partners are known to make.
Is this what our judicial selection process has become? Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised given all the ethical challenges that the Trumpists have posed. It’s as if the Ethics in Government Act was never passed, let alone the Emoluments Clause in the Constitution. Remedies for blatant violations were never pursued. In the world of government we defined deviancy down, to use a phrase from Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who would rotisserie in his grave if he saw what goes on today.
Not to worry, says a former Scalia clerk. Plenty of other people were involved, including Don McGahn. Sorry, but I am still shocked that Leonard Leo would pay off a key presidential aide.
And the Republican justices complain about how their institution’s reputation is being undermined? Don’t they look around themselves and think? To quote Shakespeare, the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars but in ourselves.
A pox on all your Houses, of Representatives and White, and on the Senate and the Supreme Court too. Shame on you all.
Happy Holidays! There will be more to consider come January 3 but everyone enjoy their friends and family and stay healthy and safe in the meantime.
The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of NYCLA, its affiliates, its officers or its Board.