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  #1  
Old 03-20-2014, 05:59 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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Democrats in Philly caught taking bribes won't be prosecuted

http://articles.philly.com/2014-03-1...ation-kane-ali

The investigation got dropped as soon as a Democrat became Attorney General. And it's not as if the previous Attorney General, Republican Tom Corbett, didn't do a sting on Republicans: they just didn't take the money.

The new Attorney General's excuse? The sting was "poorly conceived"(yet it worked), and was racist. So even though four people took bribes, they won't be punished, and if Kane had her way, their constituents wouldn't even have known they took bribes.
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  #2  
Old 03-20-2014, 06:17 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Lord knows I wouldn't even pretend that Philly Democrats are all clean as driven snow, but this is disappointingly small potatoes. A mere few thousand bucks to vote the way they were probably going to anyway? I demand more juicy scandals! Come on, Dems, go big or go home. Or both.

Seriously though, I have no idea why Kane really shut this down (nor why the feds didn't want it either), and neither do you. Need more information.
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  #3  
Old 03-20-2014, 06:48 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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Actually, she explains why she shut it down. The explanation just doesn't wash.
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Old 03-20-2014, 06:58 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Her explanation was insufficient, not implausible.
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  #5  
Old 03-20-2014, 07:04 AM
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From the article in the OP:
Quote:
In an interview, District Attorney Ed Marsico, a Republican, said his staff had reviewed a summary of the investigation prepared by Kane's staff and determined the case "almost unprosecutable."
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  #6  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:03 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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Why? Entrapment? If so, while they should avoid prosecution, I hope their voters take them out in the next local elections.

If entrapment was not an issue soiling the case, then they should have continued the investigation. I'm not really seeing the difference between this and the William Jefferson case, or ABSCAM for that matter. Investigators have been using this method to catch politicians taking bribes forever.

Last edited by adaher; 03-20-2014 at 08:04 AM..
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  #7  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:08 AM
Merneith Merneith is offline
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The case was also reviewed by federal prosecutors who declined to get involved:

Quote:
Just weeks before Kane's January 2013 inauguration, those state prosecutors [ie - the original guys who started is] bundled up the investigation, including copies of all tapes, and shared the material with federal prosecutors. Federal authorities decided not to take the case. They have declined to say why.

State prosecutors went to the U.S. Attorney's Office because they believed Kane had a conflict and should not be making decisions on the case. Kane said Friday she had no such conflict.
<snip>

In the view of Kane's allies, she rightly shut down a flawed investigation - one that federal prosecutors decided not to pursue as well. In a statement, Kane's office said federal law enforcement officials - it did not specify from which agency - had pronounced the case "flawed and not prosecutable."

Her office also raised the issue of entrapment, saying the investigation had targeted individuals without sufficient suspicion that they were predisposed to corruption. And it said the sting often failed to explicitly link payments to a quid pro quo of official action.
The guy wearing the wire and doling out the bribes was a facing a $500k fraud charge. He agreed to do this in return for dropping the charges. So he wasn't a professional at this. He may have done something or said something to make it entrapment rather than evidence of a crime. It certainly sounds like the politicians involved are dirty but that doesn't mean the tapes are usable.

Last edited by Merneith; 03-20-2014 at 08:09 AM..
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  #8  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:08 AM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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Originally Posted by adaher View Post
Why? Entrapment? If so, while they should avoid prosecution, I hope their voters take them out in the next local elections.
Where? Lunch? Dinner? To a movie? I think the prosecutors are the ones with the problem here.

Quote:
In explaining the decision to close the sting investigation without filing charges, Kane said one reason was that prosecutors in the case had issued orders to target "only members of the General Assembly's Black Caucus" and to ignore "potentially illegal acts by white members of the General Assembly."
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  #9  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:11 AM
mozchron mozchron is offline
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I'm as big a liberal as you'll find on these boards, and I think I must be going crazy, because I agree with adaher.

(Did I really just type that?)

Bribing politicians and politicians accepting bribes is a big no-no in my book. I think the prosecuter needs to be investigated here.
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  #10  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:18 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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Well, I'm convinced now that there might be a good reason, but those bribe-takers should be kicked out of office, either through the next election or impeachment(if possible), and if Kane ever wants to run for higher office, something state AGs frequently do, she'd better be prepared to explain this more thoroughly.
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  #11  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:22 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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The problem with these things is that you can't just go off of "Did the person do something bad?" (which, I think it's fairly clear, these people did). If you want to prosecute them, you've got to have a solid case untainted by procedural compromises and blatant biases.

Say they genuinely were targetting black caucus members only. Suddenly everything in your case is tainted by racism. Maybe deals were made or evidence tampered with or a thousand other little things that mar the strength of the case. Or maybe they weren't, but good luck convincing a jury (especially a Philly one) that the investigation was only racist in one thing but not in other.

Also, can you demonstrate a quid pro quo? If not, the worst you've got is a failure to report "donations" and "gifts". Which, at this level of money, isn't likely within the Feds' threshold of interest.

Now, I'm not saying that Kane definitely didn't engage in a whitewash for political reasons; I'm saying that we need to know more before we can be definite. And I agree that Kane should explain this in more detail; there's no apparent reason to be cagey about this.
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  #12  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:24 AM
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Forget it Jake, it's Philadelphia.
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  #13  
Old 03-20-2014, 08:26 AM
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Originally Posted by mozchron View Post
Bribing politicians and politicians accepting bribes is a big no-no in my book.
There's no indication that these were bribes. The politician took no official actions in exchange for the money. They were charged with not reporting the gifts, but as far as I can tell, there's no evidence that the politicians viewed the money as anything but a gift.

Now, mind you, even so, it doesn't pass the smell test for what I would want from one of my representatives. Were I a constituent, I would attempt to primary them out, or hope that the Republicans nominated someone I could stomach voting for.
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Old 03-20-2014, 09:04 AM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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It's doubtful that they'll be voted out. If it's public knowledge that members of the caucus were targeted, then their supporters will see them as the wronged party.

I saw a guy littering yesterday. Pretty sure he was a Democrat.
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Old 03-20-2014, 09:09 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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Originally Posted by Gyrate View Post
The problem with these things is that you can't just go off of "Did the person do something bad?" (which, I think it's fairly clear, these people did). If you want to prosecute them, you've got to have a solid case untainted by procedural compromises and blatant biases.
I agree completely. THat's why I've defended the administration on not going after bankers. It's one thing to say, "Bad stuff happened and these people were bad people." quite another to find laws that were broken and that you can prove were broken.

Quote:
Say they genuinely were targetting black caucus members only. Suddenly everything in your case is tainted by racism. Maybe deals were made or evidence tampered with or a thousand other little things that mar the strength of the case. Or maybe they weren't, but good luck convincing a jury (especially a Philly one) that the investigation was only racist in one thing but not in other.
That wasn't the case because they tried to entice Republicans too.

Quote:
Also, can you demonstrate a quid pro quo? If not, the worst you've got is a failure to report "donations" and "gifts". Which, at this level of money, isn't likely within the Feds' threshold of interest.
That might be the real problem. Giving a Democrat money and then telling them to vote against voter ID is about as lame as it gets.

If he pulled the same shtick on Republicans, no wonder they turned down the money. You can't buy a Republican on the voter ID issue for only a thousand bucks!

Last edited by adaher; 03-20-2014 at 09:09 AM..
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  #16  
Old 03-20-2014, 10:06 AM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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Where? Lunch? Dinner? To a movie? I think the prosecutors are the ones with the problem here.
Quote:
In explaining the decision to close the sting investigation without filing charges, Kane said one reason was that prosecutors in the case had issued orders to target "only members of the General Assembly's Black Caucus" and to ignore "potentially illegal acts by white members of the General Assembly."
From the linked article:

Quote:
Sources with knowledge of the sting said the investigation made financial pitches to both Republicans and Democrats, but only Democrats accepted the payments.
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  #17  
Old 03-20-2014, 06:27 PM
bmoak bmoak is offline
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Originally Posted by Bricker View Post
From the linked article:
So "General Assembly's Black Caucus"=Democrat?
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  #18  
Old 03-20-2014, 06:47 PM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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So "General Assembly's Black Caucus"=Democrat?
I haven't gone through the entire list of members but it certainly looks that way based on the half dozen or so I checked. Which is not all that much of a surprise, really. Again - this is Philly, where old school Democratic politics reigns supreme (as opposed to most of the rest of the state where old school Republican politics reign supreme).

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Old 03-20-2014, 09:37 PM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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So "General Assembly's Black Caucus"=Democrat?
Yes.

I can't find a single member of the GA's Black Caucus that is not a Democrat, anyway. Perhaps I missed someone?

But the real error is that Kane's description of the sting does not appear to be as accurate as it might be. In other words, it's not the case that the sting targeted only members of the Black Caucus.
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  #20  
Old 03-20-2014, 10:03 PM
Airman Doors, USAF Airman Doors, USAF is offline
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For the record, the only politicians that will ever be caught taking bribes in Philadelphia are Democrats, because no Republican will ever be elected there. I doubt the Republican Party even exists there, and if it does its membership could probably fit in a modestly-sized closet.
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  #21  
Old 03-21-2014, 01:31 AM
2sense 2sense is offline
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It's doubtful that they'll be voted out. If it's public knowledge that members of the caucus were targeted, then their supporters will see them as the wronged party.
Maybe. But a case doesn't have to be winnable for prosecuting to be a public benefit. Expose what really happened and let the juries and the voters decide.
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  #22  
Old 03-21-2014, 02:39 AM
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I'm as big a liberal as you'll find on these boards, and I think I must be going crazy, because I agree with adaher.

(Did I really just type that?)

Bribing politicians and politicians accepting bribes is a big no-no in my book. I think the prosecuter needs to be investigated here.
A healthy attitude. The problem is that the Feds declined to take up the case.

In response, Attorney General Kathleen Kane stated, "My record speaks for itself that prosecutions have no political agenda. Of the 11 public corruption cases we have brought so far, the majority involve Democrats. I will not sit back and allow lies from those who seek to destroy the publicís trust in me or my office."

Article questioning the Phili Inquirer's journalistic standards. I confess I'm dubious about many of their claims: http://www.phillyrecord.com/2014/03/...-sue-inquirer/


My take: this development deserves a thread and it deserves investigation. A $2000 gift by a lobbyist fails the smell test, regardless of what influence actually was peddled. Also, even if the bribe was entrapment, and therefore couldn't be prosecuted, there's the matter of reporting: "Those who sources say pocketed the cash failed to report it, as required by law, on annual financial disclosure forms for public officials, records show. Under state law, those omissions may be considered false swearing to authorities, a crime with a penalty of up to one year in jail."

If that's not illegal, it should be.
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  #23  
Old 03-21-2014, 12:24 PM
Buck Godot Buck Godot is offline
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Originally Posted by Airman Doors, USAF View Post
For the record, the only politicians that will ever be caught taking bribes in Philadelphia are Democrats, because no Republican will ever be elected there. I doubt the Republican Party even exists there, and if it does its membership could probably fit in a modestly-sized closet.
And I suspect that that is part of the problem. DC has the same issue. When you exist in a de facto one party system with no opposition party checking up on you it's easy for corruption to fester. This is the main reason I would rather have the Republican's reform and become sane rather than disappear entirely.
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  #24  
Old 03-21-2014, 01:17 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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According to the article, the previous AG (who is a Republican) spent three years on this investigation and only produced four possible cases. Which he declined to prosecute while he was in office.

The only evidence we have that Republicans were involved in the investigation is an anonymous source.

The new AG (who is a Democrat) reviewed the investigation and had the FBI and the county DA (who is a Republican) also review it. They determined there was not a winnable case.

The new AG has prosecuted Democrats in previous corruption cases.

So do we have a Democrat covering for other Democrats? Or do we have a new AG who saw that her predecessor was wasting time and money on an investigation that was going nowhere (and was possibly politically motivated) and shut it down?
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:27 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Maybe. But a case doesn't have to be winnable for prosecuting to be a public benefit. Expose what really happened and let the juries and the voters decide.
I disagree with this. The government should not put somebody on trial if it knows it's unlikely to win. It's harassment by the legal system and it's a waste of public resources.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:54 PM
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I disagree with this. The government should not put somebody on trial if it knows it's unlikely to win. It's harassment by the legal system and it's a waste of public resources.
The person you are quoting does not seem to see winning as the only goal. They just want information to be made public in a trial, so that the voters can also decide.

To further both goals, it would seem to make sense just to do a proper investigation and make it all public.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:55 PM
adaher adaher is offline
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I disagree with this. The government should not put somebody on trial if it knows it's unlikely to win. It's harassment by the legal system and it's a waste of public resources.
Yet it happens all the time when the AG sees political advantage in it. Eliot Spitzer was the master. And he was rewarded for it.
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Old 03-21-2014, 01:59 PM
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Yes.

I can't find a single member of the GA's Black Caucus that is not a Democrat, anyway. Perhaps I missed someone?
The problem is his lack of precision which shows his own biases. I knew instantly that this thread was started by either you, Shodan, magellan, or adaher. The thread would just not have been titled this way if written by anyone else.

You guys just look at the world through this lens of Democrats being the enemy and want to jump on any connection. The idea that the AG was doing his job didn't even cross adaher's mind. He didn't check the null hypothesis.

(And, yes, you are better than most of them--except when you get on an anti-Democrat kick every so often.)
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  #29  
Old 03-21-2014, 02:27 PM
2sense 2sense is offline
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I disagree with this. The government should not put somebody on trial if it knows it's unlikely to win. It's harassment by the legal system and it's a waste of public resources.
It's not a waste of resources if it provides honest information about public servants. For myself, I wouldn't consider it harassment if the prosecutors have good reason to believe a crime had been committed.
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  #30  
Old 03-21-2014, 03:19 PM
adaher adaher is offline
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Not to mention AGs prosecute cases they can't win all the time if it puts an issue in the news. And Philly politicians taking bribes should be in the news.
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Old 03-21-2014, 09:04 PM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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Not to mention AGs prosecute cases they can't win all the time if it puts an issue in the news. And Philly politicians taking bribes should be in the news.
According to Kane, the investigation was tainted:

Quote:
Kane noted that one of the investigators received word from a supervisor to focus only on members of the Black Caucus and to ignore evidence, should he uncover any, misdeeds by white members of the General Assembly.
Unprosecutable. Politically motivated. Dirty dems or dirty pubs too? Who knows.
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Old 03-21-2014, 11:24 PM
adaher adaher is offline
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That's assuming what she said is true. That sounds suspiciously like what Republicans accused the IRS of doing. Could be true, could also just be something Kane seized on because she heard about it and it gave her a pretext to drop the case. And of course not inform the public.

Explicit racial targeting in state law enforcement is also something the public should know about. It sounds like Kane just wanted to sweep the whole unpleasant thing under the rug rather than find out the truth.

Last edited by adaher; 03-21-2014 at 11:25 PM..
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  #33  
Old 03-22-2014, 12:29 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Not to mention AGs prosecute cases they can't win all the time if it puts an issue in the news. And Philly politicians taking bribes should be in the news.
That's begging the question. You're assuming the allegations are true. If they aren't true, what justification would there be for accusing people who are innocent?

Keep in mind the allegations that individuals took money are attributed to "sources". How credible are these anonymous sources?

Kane has said she reviewed the evidence. So did DA Ed Marsico and the FBI. They said there is no case. And Tom Corbett never filed any charges during the three years he had this evidence.

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  #34  
Old 03-22-2014, 01:21 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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Then release the paperwork on the investigation to the media. For two reasons:

1) The threshold for the public losing trust in politicians is, and should be, much lower than the standard of guilt in a criminal trial.

2) Politicians aren't entitled to the same confidentiality rights as other citizens. Any information that is in the public interest should be released.
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  #35  
Old 03-22-2014, 05:46 AM
A nice guy with an opinion A nice guy with an opinion is offline
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Racial shield at full force, captain.
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Old 03-22-2014, 05:57 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Then release the paperwork on the investigation to the media. For two reasons:

1) The threshold for the public losing trust in politicians is, and should be, much lower than the standard of guilt in a criminal trial.

2) Politicians aren't entitled to the same confidentiality rights as other citizens. Any information that is in the public interest should be released.
So you feel that government officials should be encouraged to charge their political opponents with crimes even if they don't have any evidence to substantiate the charges?
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  #37  
Old 03-22-2014, 06:48 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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That's not what happened here. An investigation was done, politicians did in fact take bribes. Their constituents can best judge whether they were unfairly entrapped, and the media can confirm or refute whether African-American members were targeted or not.

In either case, the public should know. Isn't Tom Corbett up for reelection? Shouldn't voters know if he led a racially-motivated investigation while AG?
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  #38  
Old 03-22-2014, 08:28 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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An investigation was done, politicians did in fact take bribes.
No, you don't know that. What you actually know is that a person whose identity is unknown claims that some politicians took bribes.

When Kathleen Kane went on record to say that only black politicians were being targeted, you raised the possibility she was lying. Why don't you display the same skepticism about the anonymous source's allegations?
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Old 03-22-2014, 08:36 PM
Bricker Bricker is offline
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No, you don't know that. What you actually know is that a person whose identity is unknown claims that some politicians took bribes.

When Kathleen Kane went on record to say that only black politicians were being targeted, you raised the possibility she was lying. Why don't you display the same skepticism about the anonymous source's allegations?
That's a fair point. All other things being equal, we should give more weight to attributed quotes than to anonymous ones.
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Old 03-22-2014, 09:09 PM
adaher adaher is offline
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On the other hand, we should give more weight to people revealing information than to those who tried to hide it and coming up with explanations for hiding it quickly when they find out a story is breaking.

I'd also note that she declined to be interviewed and simply issued a statement. Which is a good sign her explanation would not stand up well under questioning from the media.

The article also notes that an attributed source, the lead prosecutor, denies Kane's charges that the investigation was targeting black politicians.

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  #41  
Old 03-22-2014, 09:18 PM
adaher adaher is offline
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Furthermore, she's threatening a defamation lawsuit against the Inquirer, when the only person making defaming statements in the article is her.

That right there identifies her as a little nuts.
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  #42  
Old 03-22-2014, 09:19 PM
adaher adaher is offline
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And we get more news, from attributed sources:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20...ting_case.html

In unusually barbed criticism of a fellow prosecutor and fellow Democrat, Philadelphia’s district attorney rebuked state Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane on Friday, saying she had needlessly killed a solid corruption investigation – and besmirched the prosecutors who built the case.

In an op-ed to be published in The Inquirer on Sunday, Seth Williams faulted Kane for shutting down a “sting” operation that caught at least five Philadelphia Democrats, including four state representatives, on tape accepting money or gifts.

“She apparently has electronic recordings of numerous elected officials taking money while promising their votes – and she has to let them off scot-free because she would be incapable of convincing a jury of their guilt?” he wrote.

Kane has said she closed the investigation in part because prosecutors had made an unduly lenient deal with the case’s undercover informant, dropping 2,088 charges against him in a massive fraud case in exchange for his cooperation.

That, she said, rendered his credibility “horrendously tainted” and would have prevented prosecutors from winning in court.

Williams blasted that decision. “The Attorney General of Pennsylvania drops a case supported by hundreds of hours of devastating tapes because the main witness got a deal on a bunch of government fraud charges,” he wrote. “As a DA, I think this might be the most disturbing aspect of the whole sordid spectacle. You don’t have to be a prosecutor to know this is how it’s done.”

Adrian R. King Jr., Kane’s first deputy attorney general, declined to respond to Williams’ assertions.


You know what's worse than an unattributed source? "No comment".

More:

In a separate op-ed submitted to The Inquirer for publication Sunday, Fina mocked Kane for her decision to request to meet with the editorial board of The Inquirer on Thursday, only to arrive and decline to address the board or answer any questions. She did so upon the advice of her newly hired lawyer, Richard A. Sprague, who accompanied her to the meeting.

“I have not retained an attorney to advise me to speak, or to remain silent,” Fina wrote. “I am an attorney.”

Fina called for a televised public forum at which he and Kane could debate the merits of the investigation, which Fina said had been conducted “honestly, ably, and with integrity.”


I'd say the world is about to come down on Kathleen Kane.

Last edited by adaher; 03-22-2014 at 09:21 PM..
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  #43  
Old 03-23-2014, 11:14 AM
elucidator elucidator is offline
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By Og, it is a fever swamp of liberal hypocrisy! Not only does a Democrat sabotage an investigation, another Democrat insincerely criticizes her for it! Have these people no shame?

(Bricker, I realize I have co-opted your patented schtick, and thereby owe you a nickel. Put it on my tab....)
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  #44  
Old 03-23-2014, 03:18 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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It's pretty obvious by now that the OP had already decided what he wants to believe long before he even read the article. People who are saying things he wants to believe are credible. People who are casting doubts on the things he wants to believe are not credible. It's a great system for reinforcing his beliefs but it doesn't leave much room for debate.
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  #45  
Old 03-23-2014, 04:05 PM
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There's plenty of room for debate. She's the only one making the claims she's making. Everyone else says she's wrong. She's lawyering up and refusing to answer questions. Everyone else is talking to the press.

So if you want to debate why you think she's more credible, go ahead.

Finally, there's the ridiculous allegation she made: that the investigators were ordered to target black politicians. Do you seriously think her reaction to that would be to just stop the investigation? It would be the investigators who had to lawyer up if they were targeting African-Americans!

Face it. She issued a statement saying the only thing she could think to say when the Inquirer broke the story, and now refuses to be questioned on that statement. It's not looking good for her.

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  #46  
Old 03-23-2014, 07:14 PM
adaher adaher is offline
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This paper is now making this their top story and they have a lot more detail on the operation:

http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20..._unfolded.html

All the politicians implicated are seeking reelection.

And it looks like there were some quid pro quos involved.

Last edited by adaher; 03-23-2014 at 07:16 PM..
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  #47  
Old 03-24-2014, 06:49 AM
Gyrate Gyrate is offline
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Okay, now it looks bad for Kane.

As a complete tangent, I went to college with Seth Williams. Back then I considered him one of those ruthlessly ambitious people willing to say or do anything to advance themselves in life, including stepping on other people and fanning the flames of controversy in order to get his name in the papers. Clearly this strategy has worked out for him.

Which is not to cast doubt on what he's saying in this case. Mostly it's just to say "I went to school with him and thought he was an asshole."
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  #48  
Old 03-24-2014, 07:17 AM
adaher adaher is offline
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The Inquirer is being the most aggressive on this, but other sources, like Reason Magazine of all places, is going a little easier on Kane. It looks like she had a lot of reasons for killing the investigation, and those reasons altogether sound pretty plausible to me.

I think the main fault in this for her is going to be how she handled it. She shouldn't have been making wild accusations of racial targeting. There's just no way the other people involved could let that go unchallenged.

She has said that "crimes were committed", they just can't prosecute. So I think the focus is going to move away from her and towards the four corrupt politicians.
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  #49  
Old 03-24-2014, 01:11 PM
Blank Slate Blank Slate is offline
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The biggest question left unanswered is: who really gives a shit? Is there something compelling about the Pennsylvania general assembly? There are politicians trading influence for cash from coast to coast. We shouldn't let stuff like this distract us from Benghazi.
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  #50  
Old 03-24-2014, 01:27 PM
BobLibDem BobLibDem is offline
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We're done for now. Of course, this means that Republicans will sweep to power in Philadelphia, across Pennsylvania, and around the nation. We've been exposed as nothing but election-stealing ACORN crooks. Woe is us.

Last edited by BobLibDem; 03-24-2014 at 01:27 PM..
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