Corruption investigations, and a conviction, dim GOP hopes for the White House in 2016

A week is a long time in politics, as British Prime Minister Harold Wilson famously observed.

Only a year ago many Republicans were touting Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell as a front runner in the 2016 Presidential nomination stakes. Some liberal commentators were complaining about some sort of bribery scandal but these were nothing to worry about.

Not any more. McDonnell has just been found guilty of accepting $165,000 in loans and bribes from ‘businessman’ Jonnie Williams. William’s firm Star Scientific started out making cigarettes, and switched to making tobacco based ‘nutritional supplements’. It has been losing money for a decade and is itself at the center of a securities investigation.

Bob McDonnell

Bob McDonnell

The scandal unfolded after Todd Schneider, the executive chef at the governor’s mansion fell out with the McDonnells and was charged with stealing food from the kitchens. Schneider told investigators that Williams had paid the $15,000 cost of catering McDonnell’s daughter’s wedding. Further investigation quickly uncovered numerous unreported gifts and loans.

McDonnell is hardly the first state governor to be convicted of corruption. Four Illinois of the last eight governors have been convicted of fraud after leaving office. But none of those were considered serious Presidential challengers. Today three of the top contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination are more likely to serve jail time than in the oval office.

Photo by Dave Weigel.

Chris Christie (photo by Dave Weigel).

New Jersey governor Chris Christie is currently under investigation for misuse of public office in the Bridgegate scandal, and for using federal disaster recovery grants given to aid hurricane Katrina victims to pay for what were in effect Chris Christie campaign commercials.

Don’t let the apparent pettiness of Christie’s alleged involvement in the closure of the toll lanes on the George Washington Bridge, for a traffic study now known to be fake, distract you. The closures took place the same week that the city of Fort Lee was attempting to close a round of funding on a billion dollar development on land next to the toll booths. The plots of land have remained undeveloped till now because of a previous scandal in which the New Jersey mob attempted to bribe a previous mayor of Fort Lee to approve a development of their own.

First recall effort against WI Gov. Walker launched—by Walker supporterWisconsin Governor Scott Walker is also at the center of a criminal investigation of alleged illegal coordination between his campaign and special interest groups. Although the prosecutor has stated that Walker himself is not a target in the probe, legal maneuvers by Wisconsin Club for Growth challenging the constitutionality of the law should ensure that the case gets prominent media attention throughout the 2016 campaign season.

Emails sent by Walker campaign managers show them openly touting the use of the fund as a way to make unlimited covert contributions to his 2012 campaign against recall. And the favors returned by Walker are hardly inconsequential, Gogebic Taconite who covertly donated $700,000 to the Walker fund received approval for the world’s largest open-pit iron ore mine shortly afterwards.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is also in serious legal trouble after he attempted to use a line item veto to veto funding for the Travis county public integrity unit. While Perry had the right exercise his veto, threatening to do so if District Attorney Lehmberg did not resign was unambiguously illegal.

rick perry brokeback

Rick Perry’s got a problem.

While Perry’s action is the easiest to explain to voters, he faces two major problems that make his position much worse than Christie or Walker. His first problem being that he has already been indicted and by a Republican prosecutor to boot. The second problem is that Rick Perry has already established a reputation as being astonishingly stupid. His attempts to brush off his indictment by pretending it was for ‘bribery’ rather than threatening a public official only remind people why his last campaign crashed and burned.

The Presidential nomination race is an elimination game of course. But most Presidents are former Vice Presidents or State Governors. Senators do win their party nomination fairly often as John McCain, John Kerry and Bob Dole prove. They all lost. Obama is the first President to come from the senate since John F. Kennedy. And JFK was the only man to make that move in the 20th century. And significantly, Obama and Kennedy both won the nomination in a field led by other senators.

The only living Republican Vice Presidents are Dick Cheney, Bush the Elder and Dan Quayle. So a state governor has to be their best chance of winning the WhiteHouse. With McDonnell, Christie, Walker and Perry mired in criminal investigations, the Republican party is starting to run out of choices.

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25 Responses to “Corruption investigations, and a conviction, dim GOP hopes for the White House in 2016”

  1. EasterBEspino says:

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  3. 1nancy2 says:

    Don’t go that far. J. McCain made a huge error. He thought we were stupid and would vote for that shrill, dumb, mean woman. The opposite occurred. We rushed to the polls to ensure that she never got to be Pres. The thought of her as Pres. made people vote by the millions. JM is a bitter, nasty, babbling, old man.

  4. Texon says:

    It will come down to which way the wind is blowing when the Republicans pick a candidate. Remember McCain picked that insane lady to counter the black man running opposite him. The only for sure is that their choice will be rejected by the voters who are not as stupid as the republicans think.

  5. FLL says:

    The dream ticket: Rick Santorum and Dan Savage.

  6. Bill_Perdue says:

    The important components of the Clinton’s deficit were among the LGBT communities, still reeling from his betrayals with DOMA and DADT, among unions and workers who were enraged by his actions in gutting welfare and his signature on NAFTA and wary of his unlimited support for the deregulation bills of 1999 and 2000. Those are the reasons the Gore campaign tried to disassociate themselves from the Clintons. It had little to do with the those stains on Monica Lewinsky’s pretty blue dress.

    The Democrats will nominate another anti-worker, pro war candidate in 2016 and that candidate will have the same problem from Obama’s deficits – his betrayal of medical care for workers, his extreme warmongering, his union busting and and policies that aid and abet corporate polluters and promote climate change. The Republicans will have a candidate just as bad and voters will again be left with no real choices. I expect the number of people who boycott the elections will increase as will the vote for leftists and anti-capitalists.

  7. GarySFBCN says:

    Sorry, but it was prudent for Gore to distance himself from Clinton and his ‘bj baggage.’ Regardless of Clinton’s approval ratings at the time, it would have been easy to destroy Gore had he used Clinton in the campaign.

  8. rabblerouzzer says:

    I disagree that Clinton’s unpopularity helped set the stage for the Bush coronation by the SCOTUS. I think the opposite is true, and Gore’s biggest mistakes were first, not utilizing one of the best politicians in a generation to his advantage, running as far from Clinton as he could and, second, being boring, which as any good egg head knows, is often unavoidable. Clinton’s approval ratings, even during the blowjob scandal were above average, surpassed only by 11 years under four other Presidents (Eisenhower, JFK, LBJ & Bush II.)* Even with all that, he still won the popular vote and would have been elected had SCOTUS not interfered, with a “just for this time and never again” decision to stop the Florida recount.


  9. MyrddinWilt says:

    Pretty much. Though Jeb isn’t that keen on running against Hillary.

    After all, apart from being the brother of the worst President in US history, what is there that makes Jeb electable?

  10. Bill_Perdue says:

    Both parties face problems with their presidential campaigns.

    One of the factors that will come into play will be the increasing unpopularity of Obama among those who voted for him in 2008 and 2012. Thirty million Obama voters deserted him and the Democrats in 2010. Few politicians are daft enough to promise things these days and when they do break their promises, as Obama has done repeatedly, their party becomes as unpopular as well. Obama’s broken his promises on several key questions.

    The unpopularity of Bill Clinton played a big role in 2000 and helped set the stage for the Bush ‘victory’ that year. Another factor that will come into play is the heavy baggage attached to Hillary Clinton and the fact that much of her popularity is in jeopardy. “Clinton’s overall favorability rating stands at just over 50 percent, down from nearly 60 percent during her tenure as Secretary of State.“

    The number of eligible voters who sit it out seems to be on the rise again and who can blame them. The Republicans have another clown car and their pathetic efforts to rebrand and distance themselves from their racism, misogyny, immigrant bashing and homophobia are not taken seriously by them or anyone else.

    If Sanders runs as an independent that will shake things up quite a bit and so will the rising strength of socialists and the union left and our campaigns in support of a decent minimum wage as opposed to Obama’s insulting and anti-worker proposal and for union organizing.

  11. FLL says:

    So by the process of elimination, that means… [cue the creepy music]… Jeb Bush?! Spare us.

  12. BeccaM says:

    The fact McCain inflicted the Grifta from Wasilla on America — as opposed to her far more likely future outcome of being a forgotten one (or half) term governor of Alaska — completely outweighs the least sympathy I might otherwise have for him.

  13. BeccaM says:

    Let’s also remember the other factor: Today’s GOP requires strict and unquestioning adherence to a paradoxically ever-changing hyper-conservative orthodoxy. Just look at their last two candidates for president: McCain and Romney. Both were men who were politically considered to be relative moderates. (Yes, even though McCain has always polished his conservative bona fides with excessively hawkish foreign policy pronouncements, and Rmoney did it mainly through pro-corporate positions.)

    For example, right now, every GOP governor who accepting any form of the ACA Medicaid expansion is basically signalling they have no plans to run for president. Not because the position is unpopular — it isn’t — but because their sharkish primary opponents will promote any such compromise as an unacceptable pro-Obamacare heresy.

    As for other things… Remember the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform act? Well, John McCain wishes you didn’t (and for darned sure he hopes nobody in the GOP remembers…fortunately for him they’ve become pretty good at double-think and revisionist history). It did almost nothing to stem the tidal wave of election graft, yet McCain committed the heresy of working with not just a Democrat but a liberal, populist Democrat to craft the legislation.

    The current crop of GOP presidential wannabes face a multilayer Venn diagram of ideological mandates, some of which don’t seem to overlap at all. The consequence of all this is one they keep facing: In order to pass muster with the radicalized GOP base, a candidate must run so far to the right they make Reagan seem like a socialist hippie. (While of course simultaneously fluffing Saint Ronnie’s zombie corpse and ascribing to him all the positions of the ideologically pure ur-Conservative.)

    They’re also going to have trouble finding someone who is ideologically pure, capable of running a national campaign without imploding, and not under indictment…

  14. arcadesproject says:

    That is why Hilary is making the rounds on Wall Street, to reassure the 1%that she will loyally serve them and that the rest of us have no hope for change.

  15. Naja pallida says:

    Never in the history of the party. Especially once the candidate is being called out for their blatant corruption, because then it’s a librul plot so they have to vote for them.

  16. nicho says:

    He wasn’t a presidential hopeful, but the GOP Lt. Gov. of Nebraska just resigned after his sister took out a restraining order on him. I’m mot sure how much more “family values” we can take.

  17. nicho says:

    So the GOP nominee will be the one left standing who’s not under indictment. Who knows they may get Scott Brown to surrender his carpet bag in New Hampshire and get on the white horse.

  18. nicho says:

    Yeah, you have to trust that they have a brain, because there’s no evidence for it.

  19. gratuitous says:

    Ann is ready for it to be their turn again. More $900 t-shirts, anyone?

  20. FLL says:


  21. usagi says:

    He’s tanned. He’s rested. He’s ready.

    Romney 2016.

  22. nicho says:

    Since when has the candidate being morally deficient stopped Republicans from voting for them?

  23. Lantor says:

    I rewatched GAME CHANGE the other night…almost felt sorry for John McCain…almost.

  24. lynchie says:

    I say bring back McCain/Palin. The GOP braintrust.

  25. HereinDC says:

    “…….., the Republican party is starting to run out of choices.”
    Boo Hoo

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