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Jewish World Review Feb. 14, 2001 / 21 Shevat, 5761

Michelle Malkin

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Consumer Reports

Torricelli turns on his friends -- TEFLON Bob Torricelli's coat of armor is wearing a little thin these days.

The once-invincible, Democratic fund-raising superman can't seem to shake questions about his prodigious campaign finance practices. Now, the New Jersey senator -- who raised $12.5 million for his 1996 campaign and a record $87.2 million as Democratic Senate Campaign Committee chairman -- has turned on some of his deep-pocketed donors.

The Justice Department is on to something here. The clock is ticking (there's a five-year statute of limitations for campaign finance violations), but maybe, just maybe, DOJ's election task force will be able to pin down the slippery politician's role in alleged campaign corruption.

Torricelli and his lawyers dismiss his financial troubles as "garden-variety" book-keeping errors. But since the federal probe of Torricelli's 1996 fund-raising began, six of his donors have pleaded guilty to making illegal straw donations for the purpose of evading contribution limits. At least two listed Torricelli donors told reporters they were illegally reimbursed by their company for contributions they didn't make on their own. And three other donors have implicated Torricelli and his seasoned aides in their schemes.

Passing political contributions through unsuspecting donors doesn't just happen with a slip of the pencil. It's deliberate money laundering and it's one of the most fundamental violations of campaign finance law. No official in the Torricelli campaign has yet been charged with breaking the law, but the campaign's past working relationships with shady donors smell like a garden variety of rotten vegetables.

One of Torricelli's old buddies, David Chang, pleaded guilty in federal court last summer to charges of illegally funneling $53,700 into Torricelli’s 1996 campaign. Chang broke contribution limits, made illegal corporate donations, enlisted straw donors, illegally reimbursed them, and obstructed justice by pressuring one of his former employees to lie to a grand jury. According to the New York Times last week, Chang revealed to prosecutors that Torricelli "was not only aware of some of his illegal donations but also encouraged them" and that he encouraged Chang to flee the country.

Fairweather Torricelli and his aides now attack one of their chief fund-raisers as a "pathological" liar and perjurer. Chang is "about as fraudulent a human being as has ever graced the earth," one of Torricelli's lawyers told the press.

What does all this say about Torricelli? He knew that Chang, a Beijing-born entrepreneur who conducted exclusive business with the communist regime in North Korea, had made $12,000 in prior illegal donations to former California Rep. Jay Kim in 1992. Yet, Torricelli hired Chang to raise funds, placed calls to the government on his behalf, and defended him last year against charges of foreign money laundering by accusing investigators of being motivated by prejudice because Chang "happens to be of a different race."

Now, Torricelli's dear friend - yes, he used to call Chang "friend" - is a pathological liar and world-class fraud. And now, Torricelli -- who is furiously raising money for his legal defense fund -- complains that he is a victim of "the politics of personal destruction." He has also traded in the race card for the generational card, casting his targeted staffers Adam Crain, Roberta Stern, and David Plouffe as "dedicated young campaign workers who worked tirelessly" and "have done nothing wrong."

At least two other Torricelli donors have come forward to dispute that claim. French businessmen Mark Rousso and Philippe Hababou, both suspected of financial fraud abroad, have told investigators they worked with Crain, the campaign's chief fundraiser, to pass $40,000 in proceeds from a Manhattan art auction to the campaign. Investigators are also reportedly looking into claims that Crain instructed Hababou to funnel money illegally through straw donors.

"Garbage," says Torricelli lawyer Robert Bauer, "told by people who are peddling lies for profit." These donors, he says, "offer only a distinguished and extensive history of complete and criminal fraud."

Pathological liars. Perjurers. Distinguished frauds. "You shall judge of a man by his foes as well as by his friends," Joseph Conrad wrote. No wonder Torricelli, who is used to dodging bullets, is now sweating them.

JWR contributor Michelle Malkin can be reached by clicking here.


02/12/01: The FICA tax fakeout
02/07/01: In search of honorable men
02/05/01: Ally McBeal’s trophy baby
02/01/01: Mel and Bill: Bosom buddies
01/29/01: Gun shows under fire
01/24/01: American citizenship for sale?
01/22/01: Look who supports AmeriCorps
01/17/01: Some questions about Elaine Chao
01/15/01: What America owes me
01/10/01: Temptation and trash TV
01/05/01: Cop-haters welcome in Hollywood
01/02/01: Ignoring a hate crime in D.C.
12/26/00: Use ultrasound to combat abortion
12/26/00: Pardon Clinton? Just say no!
12/21/00: Smacking down free speech
12/18/00: Brace yourselves for Floridation
12/14/00: Blame enviros for electric mess
12/11/00: UNICEF's deadly mission
12/06/00: The Amish vs. the feds
12/04/00: Downey and the Drug War
11/29/00: Let the sun shine on the Supremes
11/22/00: Peace prize for a murderer?
11/20/00: Baby Boom parents are asleep on the job
11/15/00: Fog horns of the Fourth Estate
11/10/00: Who cares about election fraud now?
11/08/00: Ms. Houston, you have a problem
11/03/00: The Million Mom Murmur
11/01/00: GOP revolutionaries head for the hills
10/27/00: My impeachment referendum
10/25/00: Gore’s Good Daddy Gambit
10/23/00: Tribulations of a dubious 'tribe'
10/20/00: Pharmaceutical butchers of Beijing
10/16/00: How the West was seized
10/12/00: Fight the anti-pesticide pests
10/10/00: Moochers at the multiplex
10/05/00: Pay for your own day care
10/02/00: Not every senior demands a handout
09/27/00: Racial hype at the Olympics
09/25/00: Watch the other Washington
09/20/00: Textbook case of media arrogance
09/18/00: New York: Land of medical pork
09/13/00: Voices from the womb
09/11/00: No cure for generational pain
09/08/00: Notes on a West Coast wilding
09/06/00: Race matters at Washington Post
09/01/00: For those who labor 24/7
08/28/00: There's something about Rudy
08/25/00: A conservative case against Napster
08/22/00: Death Row Marv mocks justice
08/18/00: The party of Maxine Waters
08/14/00: "Make-A-Wish" shoots down dreams
08/10/00: Who will stop Bill Lann Lee?
08/07/00: Emily Dickinson's lesson for rude drivers
08/03/00: Leave the slogans behind
07/31/00: Hey, GM: Build cars, not quotas
07/28/00: Stop milking The Juice
07/24/00: Silencing Jeff Jacoby
07/21/00: Score another one for TV execs who want to keep us brain-dead
07/17/00: Can somebody say McStupid?
07/12/00: Beware of Ugly Building Syndrome
07/10/00: The miracle of a lead pencil
07/07/00: Partying on the people’s dime
06/29/00: When "Indians" exploit their own
06/23/00: Kids in a public school daze
06/21/00: Fed up with Fannie and Freddie
06/19/00: D.C.'s gag order for Christians
06/16/00: Dads, daughters, and PETA's spoilsports
06/13/00: Tune out Eminem's pitiful "poetry"
06/07/00: "Pained" Dem leader Torricelli deserves to feel some; Why hasn't he?
06/05/00: Tom Green's hidden health-care lesson
06/01/00: Farming out the pork
05/30/00: The perils of medical quackery
05/26/00: Awarding medals by race is a disgrace
05/22/00: Have Simon & Schuster execs lost their minds!?
05/17/00: Sports plebes vs. plutocrats
05/15/00: Whitewashing Red China's record
05/12/00: Our mothers' hands
05/08/00: Focus on the real Waco
05/05/00: An Internet victim's sad story
05/03/00: Phony pooh-bahs of journalism
05/01/00: Zoo tragedy triggers dumb reaction
04/24/00: Ecoterrorists on the loose
04/19/00: Beware of Elian's psychobabblers
04/17/00: The truth about Erin Brockovich
04/13/00: In defense of an armed citizenry
04/10/00: Playing hardball with taxpayers
04/06/00: Read W.'s lips: More new spending
04/04/00: The liberal media-in-training
03/31/00: Sticking it to the children
03/28/00: Declaring war on HOV lanes
03/22/00: Clinton and the Echo Boomers
03/17/00: Is Bush a Liddy Dole Republican?
03/13/00: Katie and the politics of disease
03/10/00: Maria H, Granny D, and the media Z's
03/07/00: Bubba Van Winkle wakes up
03/03/00: Double standard for day traders?
02/28/00: Sluts and nuts --- and our daughters
02/24/00: Zoning out religious freedom
02/15/00: The Baby Brain Boondoggle
02/10/00: Buddhist temple untouchables
02/08/00: CDC: Caught Devouring Cash
02/04/00: Hillary's poisoned poster child
02/01/00: Corporate welfare on ice
01/28/00: The silly sound of silence
01/26/00: The Old Media meltdown
01/20/00: The pied pipers of KidCare
01/18/00: Our imperious judiciary
01/14/00: Tune out Columbine chorus
01/12/00: Dying to be an American
01/10/00: Time for smokers' revolt?
12/30/99: Reading, writing, PlayStation?
12/27/99: Fight money-grubbing mallrats
12/23/99: Christmas for Cornilous Pixley
12/20/99: Who will help the Hmong?
12/16/99: Shame on corn-fed politicians
12/13/99: EPA vs. the American Dream
12/09/99: Look behind the Pokemon curtain
12/06/99: Amateur hour in Seattle
11/30/99: Stop the Ritalin racketeers
11/23/99: Welfare for a sports fatcat
11/19/99: Jeb Bush's political ploy of the week
11/16/99: Ben & Jerry serve up junk science
11/12/99: A monumental waste of our veterans' resources
11/10/99: Tax-and-spend schizophrenia
11/05/99: Spooky Guy Haunts the Capital
11/02/99: Mourning the loss of the last Liberty Tree
10/27/99: AOL goes AWOL on parents
10/22/99: The persecution of Harry Potter
10/20/99: Don't doctor the law
10/14/99: The trouble with kids today
10/12/99: Pro-animal, pro-abortion, anti-speech?
10/07/99: Beltway press corps needs more skunks
09/30/99: ESPN overlooks athlete of faith, grace, and guts
09/27/99: Personal freedom going up in smoke
09/15/99: Farewell, "Miss" America
09/10/99: Will George W. work for a color-blind America?
09/03/99: Feminization of gun debate drowns out sober analysis
08/27/99: America is abundant land of equal-opportunity insult
08/10/99: Protect the next generation from diversity do-goodism
08/04/99: Sweepstakes vs. state lottery: double standards on gambling
07/21/99: "True-life tales from the Thin Red Line" (or "Honor those who sacrificed their lives for peace")
07/21/99: Reading, 'Riting, and Raunchiness?
07/14/99: Journalists' group-think is not unity
06/30/99: July Fourth programming for the Springer generation
06/25/99: Speechless in Seattle
06/15/99: Making a biblical argument against federal death taxes

© 2001, Creators Syndicate