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Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, left, and Toronto mayor Rob Ford, right, at a September 2012 press conference announcing a sister cities agreement between the two cities. Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

So that thing we do where we say politicians who do crazy things must be smoking crack? (Thanks, Marion Barry.) Turns out that in Toronto, that may be taken a little too literally from now on. The Toronto Star, Canada's biggest newspaper, went all in with a report tonight that controversial conservative mayor Rob Ford - so controversial that Americans know who a Canadian mayor is - was allegedly caught on tape smoking crack. The Star report follows tonight's earlier report by Gawker of the same story. Both the Star and Gawker note that they were approached with offers to buy the video and that, when asked of proof, they were allowed to view it. The Star's reporters have shared their thoughts here.

Sayeth the Star!

The Star reporters (Donovan and Doolittle) were shown the video on the evening of Friday, May 3, in the back of a car parked in an apartment complex at Dixon Rd. near Kipling Ave. in the north end of Etobicoke. We were allowed to watch and listen to the video three times. After, both reporters separately made written notes of what they saw and heard. Both reporters, prior to watching the video, studied numerous city-hall-related videos of Ford and, to the best of the reporter's abilities, they separately concluded the man in the video was Ford.


From Gawker:

Here is what the video shows: Rob Ford, the mayor of Toronto, is the only person visible in the frame. Prior to the trip, I spent a lot of time looking at photographs of Rob Ford. The man in the video is Rob Ford. It is well-lit, clear. Ford is seated, in a room in a house. In one hand is a a clear, glass pipe. The kind with a big globe and two glass cylinders sticking out of it. In the other hand is a lighter. A slurred voice off-camera is ranting about Canadian politics in what sounds like an attempt to goad Ford. "Pierre Trudeau was a faggot!" is the one phrase the lodges in my mind. Ford, pipe in one hand and lighter in the other, is laughing, and mildly protesting at the sacrilege. He seems to keep trying to light the pipe, but keeps stopping to laugh. He is red-faced and sweaty, heaving with each breath. Finally, he finds his moment and lights up. He inhales.


According to the Star's report, other tipsters contacted them with information about Ford's alleged crack cocaine abuse. An attorney retained by Ford contacted Gawker and the Star, denying any wrongdoing on Ford's part and telling the Star, "How can you indicate what the person is actually doing or smoking?" No one - not The Star, Gawker, or anyone else who may have been contacted by the tipster - has shelled out the money to buy the video but both reporters outlets contend it's Rob Ford on the video.

Of course, the video is also being shopped around by a pair of Somali men who are "involved in the drug trade," according to the Star, so there's certainly reason for skepticism about the video. It's a big gamble by both Gakwer and The Star; if it turns out to be false, they'll both be subject to some mighty big lawsuits for defamation. Of course, if it pans out, then, well, that's one hell of a scandal in a big city.

Either way, tomorrow should be a fun day to follow Toronto on Twitter.

UPDATE: Michael Cooke, the editor in chief of The Star - and former top editor at the Sun-Times - tweeted out the front page:

UPDATE: Ford has denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, there are no less than three different Indiegogo campaigns (like Kickstarter) to buy the tape. Maybe Zach Braff can help them out a little.

UPDATE: And the Taiwan animation crew is on it.

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[From left to right: Mel Reynolds, Jesse Jackson, Jr., and Gus Savage]

Last Friday, State Sen. Donne Trotter formally withdrew from the Second Congressional District special election to replace Jesse Jackson, Jr. The announcement came three weeks after he was arrested at O'Hare for trying to pass through security with a concealed gun. At the time of his arrest, Trotter was considered the front-runner to win the special election. Of course, the special election had only come about because the avalanching shenanigans of Jesse Jackson, Jr. forced his resignation.

The incidents involving Trotter and Jackson are just the latest examples that show how the constituents of the second congressional district are cursed. Because there's no other way to explain the misfortune that has plagued the district's constituents over the last 30 years.

It wasn't always this way, though. For the first 150 years or so of the district's existence, it hosted a colorful collection of Congressmen.

James Woodworth, who held the seat from 1855 to 1857, also served several terms as Chicago mayor, was a founding trustee of both the "old" University of Chicago and the Chicago Astronomical Society, and helped make Chicago an economic center by guiding the Midwest's railways and water traffic through the city.

From 1903 to 1922, the congressman of the 2nd district was James Robert Mann, author of the Mann Act of 1910 (aka the White Slave Traffic Act) which prohibited the interstate transportation of women for prostitution.

Abner Mikva served as the district's representative from 1969 until 1973. In 1979, then-President Jimmy Carter nominated him to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals where he served until 1994 when he retired to serve as White House counsel for then-President Bill Clinton.

And from 1853 to 1855, just before Woodworth, there was John Wentworth whose two-year stint as the second district's rep was part of a long political career that culminated in his service as Chicago's mayor. Wentworth also served in Congress as a representative of Illinoi's first and fourth districts and during his Congressional tenure, he was offered a deal by Wisconsin that would have extended that state's border to the southern tip of Lake Michigan. His reward had he allowed the Badger state to expand? A seat in the U.S. Senate. Wentworth said no.

So, then, it's easy to understand why I can't help but view the district as anything but cursed. How else to explain that the last three representatives have been, in succession, a virulent racist, a statutory rapist, and a scandal-laden charlatan? How else to explain the ascension of Gus Savage, who held the seat from 1981 until 1993? Somehow, Savage held on to his seat for 12 years despite numerous challengers, racist and anti-Semitic rhetoric, and accusations of verbally and physical sexual harassment of a Peace Corp. volunteer during a press junket tour of Ethiopia in 1989. He also had a habit of using homophobic slurs towards reporters whose questions he didn't like.

Finally ousting Savage in 1992 was an upstart reformer named Mel Reynolds. A graduate of the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, an MPA from Harvard, and a Rhodes Scholar, hopes were high for Reynolds. Instead, in August 1994, less than 2 years after his election, he was indicted on a host of charges stemming from a sexual relationship he carried on with a 16-year-old campaign volunteer. In 1995, Reynolds was forced to resign his seat.

Winning the seat after Reynolds' exit was a charismatic up-and-comer, Jesse Jackson, Jr., son of the famed Rev. Jesse Jackson. For years, Jackson served without controversy, happy to build a reputation that helped him escape his father's shadow. Then, in 2008, he was connected to the pay-for-play scandal that ensnared then-governor Rod Blagojevich. Jackson allegedly offered up fundraising to Blago in exchange for appointment to the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama after he won the 2008 Presidential election.

In early June of this year, Jesse Jackson, Jr. made his last public appearance before disappearing into the ether. In the interim, he's been in and out of the Mayo Clinic for treatment of bipolar disorder, become the target of a federal investigation into misuse of campaign funds, and, jus weeks after winning re-election in November, resigned his seat in disgrace.

The curse's source remains unknown, the misery of the second district voters still intact as they prepare for yet another special election. Even Reynolds has risen from the political graveyard to run for his old seat, a specter of the past that continues to haunt the district. This, even after Savage, despite his morally repugnant behavior, managed to keep his seat for 12 years, never receiving less than 82 percent of the vote in a general election until 1990, the year after he was accused of sexual harassment, when he received "only" 78 percent of the vote.

Those dark cosmic forces maintained their veil over the electorate in November 1994 when Reynolds, just months after his statutory rape indictment, Reynolds, unopposed from any major party challenger, received 98 percent of the vote over several independent candidates in his re-election bid.

The curse's iron grip held fast when in November when Jackson, sight unseen, was never seriously challenged on his way to a startling victory in which he garnered 63 percent of the vote.

And so this curse of mysterious origins remains unabated, its cause still a mind-bending unknown, holding hostage the tortured souls of our state's Second Congressional District. No amount of voodoo seems to have reversed the cloud of calamity that has swallowed the area whole, keeping fraudulent abusers of power in place. There seems to be no magic remedy that can save them from this string of awful leaders who somehow, some way, manage to maintain their terrible cycle of darkness and dismay.

Even the once-mighty Cook County Democratic Party has been stymied, endorsing no one for the upcoming special election primary, handing over its faith to the fates and hoping for the best. And, that's all the district's voters can do: hope and pray that somehow this evil spell is broken, that, somehow, salvation will arrive and free the them from the malicious cycle that's held them captive for so long.

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Gen. Petraeus, left, and Broadwell, right, via Paula Broadwell's website

[UPDATE: 12 a.m., Nov. 13]
And now there's this. Gen. John R. Allen, the commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan and Jill Kelley, not only involved but enough to provide upwards of 30,000 pages of "inappropriate emails?" This couldn't be anymore ridiculous.

[UPDATE: 10:10 p.m., Nov. 12]
This scandal is four days in and new details, each a little more ridiculous than the last, keep emerging. First, on the not ridiculous front, a few more details have surfaced about the then-anonymous threatening emails Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell is alleged to have sent to Jill Kelley. Per NBC News:

What most alarmed Kelley and the FBI, the source said, were references to "the comings and goings" of high-level generals from the U.S. Central Command, which is based at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, and the U.S. Southern Command, as well as Petraeus -- including events that were not on any public schedule. This raised the question as to whether somebody had access to sensitive -- and classified -- information.

Moreover, the sender of the emails had "covered her tracks pretty well," the source said.


So there's that. Also, reports out of Charlotte tonight are that investigators are searching Broadwell's home there which she shares with her husband and two children. Several FBI agents were seen carrying boxes out of the home but according to an on-air report on MSNBC, the search was not considered a "raid." And one source told CBS that the search was "consensual." No, really, that's what they said because of course.

And now for this update's dosage of ridiculous in an already pretty outrageous as one of the highest ranking national security figures in the nation has seen his career unravel because of a tryst. And, lest we forget, we still don't know the relationship between Petraeus and Kelley. Regardless of that relationship, the news that an FBI agent was removed from the investigation because he sent photos of himself shirtless to Kelley is the latest example of why the made-for-TV movie of this saga is more likely to air on Lifetime or Comedy Central than CNN.

This is no longer an intelligence or cyber crime investigation, it's Melrose Place.

[UPDATE: 12:30 p.m., Nov. 12]
So we now have the logistics of this whole scandal down for the most part (see the updates below). But to recap: Petraeus had an affair with his biographer who was sending threatening emails to another woman and the threatened woman was so scared she went to the FBI and the FBI discovered the affair in their ensuing investigation. Simple enough, right?

Now we're getting to the heart of why it matters that Petraeus had an affair, especially one who had the access that Paula Broadwell, his biographer and mistress, did. At the center of the saga today is this speech Broadwell gave a few weeks ago where she made references to a theory that the CIA was holding prisoners and the Benghazi attacks were in retaliation for these prisoners. This was something that had previously been reported by Fox News, except as Gawker points out, the Fox report suggested it was after the attack while Broadwell seems to be suggesting it happened prior to the attack. (Gawker also notes that the affair allegedly was over when Broadwell gave this speech).

Now there's a whole new sticky wicket as allegations are coming down that the FBI and the Obama Administration knew about the affair and a potential security breach well before the election - as recently as late this summer - and kept it quiet. As the Wall Street Journal reports, a subsequent investigation of Broadwell revealed she was in possession of classified documents she shouldn't have but both her and Petraeus denied the general was the source of the documents. Still, the FBI is facing scrutiny over the investigation as well as its timing.

[UPDATE: 5:10 p.m., Nov. 11]
And now we know who the other other woman is: State Dept. liaison Jill Kelley. It was Kelley who received threatening emails from Paula Broadwell, Petraeus' mistress and triggered the entire investigation that uncovered the affair. As of right now, the relationship between Petraeus and Kelley is unknown but what is known is that Broadwell perceived Kelley as a threat to her relationship with Petraeus.

The Illinois House expels Rep. Derrick Smith

He'll still have to face court, but Rep. Smith's alleged acceptance of a bribe was enough to cause him to be the first sitting member of the House ousted in more than 100 years. Dave McKinney and Mark Brown report.

Storified by Craig Newman · Fri, Aug 17 2012 13:31:46

Rep. Derrick Smith ousted from state House by 100-6 vote - Chicago Sun-TimesBY DAVE MCKINNEY Springfield Bureau Chief dmckinney@suntimes.com State Rep. Derrick Smith arrives at the Federal Building for an arrainme...
Waiting for House to take up Derrick Smith expulsion case. Madigan at rostrum. Usually means serious business at hand.Mark Brown
House floor quiets for Smith expulsion debate. Now reading the allegations against him.Mark Brown
Not as solemn as for Blago impeachment session, as close to a precedent in legislators' experience.Mark Brown
HR1191, the resolution calling for Rep. Derrick Smith's expulsion, is now underway. Smith is an unexcused no-show today in Springfield.Dave McKinney
The only question: will anybody dare speak up in defense of Derrick Smith?Mark Brown
Chamber is silent through 4 speakers, including Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-Rocford), Smith's only defender. "What happens if...he's innocent?"Dave McKinney
Lou Lang: "Smith's silence in this case speaks volumes." Silence can be used against him.Mark Brown
Lang: Smith could have been here to say, "I didn't do it" without harming his criminal case.Mark Brown
Mary Flowers (D-Chicago): "He's innocent until proven guilty. That's what the Constitution says...What's the rush?"Mark Brown
Reboletti: "We as a body must police ourselves. If we don't do it, who will?"Mark Brown
Rep. Reboletti: Smith had 148 phone calls regarding bribe, some while House in session in Springfield.Mark Brown
Barbara Flynn Currie: We do not take lightly the expulsion of a member.Mark Brown
Currie: Alleged bribe "a stunning violation of the oath of office."Mark Brown
Rep Chapin Rose (R-Mahomet) on Smith: "This isn't a speeding ticket...This goes to the very core of our democracy."Dave McKinney
Rep. Chuck Jefferson (D-Rockford): "let the legal system handle the issue." Says he will vote present.Mark Brown
Derrick Smith expelled. vote of 100-6. three presentMark Brown
Rep. Derrick Smith is defiant in Chicago: "My former colleagues did not know the truth." Says he'll remain on the November ballot.Dave McKinney
Smith called the day "sad and happy." Sad because he's the first House member bounced since 1905 but happy knowing whom his friends are.Dave McKinney
No votes on Smith: M. Davis, Deluca, Flowers, Mayfield, Turner, Yarbrough. Voting present: Ford, Jefferson, ThapediMark Brown