The LuLac Edition #495, June 11th, 2008
THE 80/20 POL
A report was filed by Luzerne County Prothonotary Jill Moran detailing her involvement with a company linked to two county judges. To some, even men of high finance, her report doesn't make sense. Two professors, one at Wilkes, one at King's said the filing contains confusing information that “doesn’t make sense".
In the Times Leader, Dr. Jeffrey Alves of Wilkes University and the Rev. Jack Ryan of King’s College said they had a hard time understanding a statement of financial interest filed on Monday by Moran. In the report, Moran states she is a 100 percent shareholder in W-Cat. Inc., but has only a 20 percent “interest” in the company. Now I don't know about you but how can someone own 100% of the shares but 20% of the company. Calling the statement "odd" the two profs said usually those who have 100% of the shares own the whole company.
The company is W-Cat and has become a source of interest and raised eyebrows after the revelation that judges Mark Ciavarella and Michael Conahan also have a financial interest in the firm. Moran is also the law partner of Robert J. Powell, a Butler Township attorney who state officials say made millions of dollars by leasing the PA Child Care juvenile detention center to the county. Powell sold his interest in the juvenile detention center and two other businesses. He has said he at one time owned half of W-Cat, but transferred full ownership of the company to Moran in 2004. Now folks, I love my friends but I never got half of a company, then full ownership. I guess I hang with the wrong crowd. But in the land of Luzerne County politics, 80/20 ownership is perfectly logical if you are connected. Now I have to tell you I've been in the Prothonotary's office and Ms. Moran has the thing running perfectly. But this latest filing cries out for an explanation.
HOW HE GOT HERE
Many people have asked how Barack Obama got where he was in order to launch a longshot bid for the Democratic nomination. You need look no further than the 2004 Senate race in Illinois where Obama beat a field of Democratic hopefuls to square off against GOPer Jack Ryan, who was at one time married to Hollywood stunner Jeri Ryan. As a result of the GOP and Democratic primaries, Democrat Barack Obama was pitted against Republican Jack Ryan. Ryan trailed Obama in early polls, with Obama opening up a 22-point lead after the media reported that Ryan had assigned Justin Warfel, a Ryan campaign worker, to track Obama's appearances. The tactic backfired when many people, including Ryan's supporters, criticized this activity. Ryan's spokesman apologized, and promised that Warfel would give Obama more space. Obama acknowledged that it is standard practice to film an opponent in public, and Obama said he was satisfied with Ryan's decision to have Warfel back off. Again, here's a key component Obama used in the race against Senator Clinton, when attacked, he was not vengeful or bitter but accepted with the shrug of the shoulders the explanation of those performing the dirty pool or in Clinton's case, making the not well thought out statement.
As the campaign progressed, the lawsuit brought by the Chicago Tribune to open child custody files from Ryan's divorce was still continuing. Barack Obama's backers emailed reporters about the divorce controversy, but refrained from on-the-record commentary about the divorce files. On March 29, 2004, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Schnider ruled that several of the Ryans' divorce records should be opened to the public, and ruled that a court-appointed referee would later decide which custody files should remain sealed to protect the interests of Ryan's young child. A few days later, on April 2, 2004, Barack Obama changed his position about the Ryans' soon-to-be-released divorce records, and called on Democrats to not inject them into the campaign. On June 22, 2004, after receiving the report from the court-appointed referee, the judge released the files that were deemed consistent with the interests of Ryan's young child. In those files, Jeri Ryan alleged that Jack Ryan had taken her to sex clubs in several cities, intending for them to have sex in public. The decision to release the files generated much controversy because it went against both parents' direct request, and because it reversed the earlier decision to seal the papers in the best interest of the child. Jim Oberweis, Ryan's defeated GOP opponent, commented that "these are allegations made in a divorce hearing, and we all know people tend to say things that aren't necessarily true in divorce proceedings when there is money involved and custody of children involved." Although their sensational nature made the revelations fodder for tabloid and television programs specializing in such stories, the files were also newsworthy because of questions about whether Ryan had accurately described the documents to GOP party leaders. Prior to release of the documents, Ryan had told leading Republicans that five percent of the divorce file could cause problems for his campaign. But after the documents were released, GOP officials including the state GOP Chair. Officials said they felt Ryan had misleadingly indicated the divorce records would not be embarrassing. That charge of dishonesty led to intensifying calls for Ryan's withdrawal, though Topinka said after the June 25 withdrawal that Ryan's "decision was a personal one" and that the state GOP had not pressured Ryan to drop out. Ryan's campaign ended less than a week after the custody records were opened, and Ryan officially filed the documentation to withdraw on July 29, 2004. Obama was left without an opponent. Enter talk show host Alan Keyes. Keyes, a conservative Republican from Maryland, faced an uphill battle. First, Keyes had few ties to Illinois political leaders. Second, during the time when Obama had no opponent, he had campaigned throughout the more conservative downstate regions to build up name recognition. Third, Keyes was seen as a carpetbagger, only establishing legal residency in Calumet City, Illinois days before running. The Chicago Tribune in an editorial, stated that "Mr. Keyes may have noticed a large body of water as he flew into O'Hare. That is called Lake Michigan." Obama ran the most successful Senate campaign for a non-incumbent in 2004, and was so far ahead in polls that he soon began to campaign outside of Illinois in support of other Democratic candidates. He gave large sums of campaign funds to other candidates and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and sent many of his volunteers to work on other races, including that of now-Congresswoman Melissa Bean who defeated then-Congressman Phil Crane in that year's election. It was there that I believe Obama found the base for how he would organize a nationwide 50 state effort which did him great good and Senator Clinton great harm. Obama and Keyes differed on many issues including school vouchers and tax cuts, both of which Keyes supported and Obama opposed. The Keyes-Obama race was one of the first to be called on Election Day, 2004.At the start of Keyes' candidacy in August, Keyes had 24% support in the polls. He received 27% of the vote in the November general election to Obama's 70%. So if you wonder where he came from and how he got here, that's the story.