Jesse Unruh had a lot to do with California history. As a member of the state assembly, he wrote California's Civil Rights law that made racial discrimination illegal. Other reforms were later credited to him as he progressed in politics. He was an early backer of Bobby Kennedy and happened to be there when Kennedy was killed. He kept the assassin safe until police arrived. He later became state treasurer, but his influence went way beyond that before he died 25 years ago.
For all that, he is probably most famous for a cynical remark. "Money is the mother's milk of politics." Since recent Supreme Court rulings, free speech turns out to offer a lot more of the first amendment to those who can buy the public microphone.
Michael Grimm is a US Congressional representative from New York. He is a Republican. Like a lot of politicians, he spends an impressive amount of effort trying to raise campaign cash so he can get reelected. It is described by many legislators as a distasteful task. The temptation must be to sometimes take shortcuts.
Congressman Grimm is under a grand jury investigation for receiving more than the legal limit for direct contributions from a lot of friends of a local Rabbi. The Rabbi reportedly says he was threatened. An aide and close friend to the Rabbi was in danger of being deported. The allegation is that the Congressman said he could make those problems go away if the Rabbi and enough of his friends donated large, very large, amounts to the Grimm campaign. If not enough money was donated, well ... people do get deported, now don't they? And the legal limits? The Rabbi is said to have been told he'd better not worry about that. The Rabbi's friend had more pressing legal issues.
Michael Grimm got awfully irritated at press coverage of the investigation. It was not the first press coverage that irritated him. Before he was elected to office, he was said to have pulled a gun on the husband of a woman he was attracted to. He was quoted as saying he could make the guy disappear. When the story appeared in the press last year, Mr. Grimm accused the reporter of a witch hunt. The story had been investigated and no charges were filed.
Besides, Grimm was ex-military. He had served in the Marines. He was also ex-FBI. He had been undercover at the center of successful efforts to put crime bosses in jail. To many of us, this would put him in a Rudy Giuliani class of hero. Higher, actually, since Rudy is a hero for taking down a series of organized crime organizations but never went undercover himself. Grimm did.
Still, heroism does not protect anyone from temptation. Duke Cunningham, whose real life story inspired the movie "Top Gun" is still in prison for accepting bribes. Marvin Mandel, who took political risks to start the Shock Trauma program is out. So the investigation into the Rabbi extortion allegation continues.
A seemingly unrelated story appeared in the press recently. It seems the campaign office of the Congressman was attacked last week. Windows were broken. Nothing was stolen, but the hard drive of the main computer was the subject of interest. It seems the thieves, who didn't carry off any of the valuable equipment that pretty much any important office will have, just performed that one little bit of vandalism. What also made it weird is that the holes in the broken window did not appear large enough for anyone to actually get into the campaign office. The only evidence that anyone did was the erased computer drive.
Congressman Grimm announced that the attack was politically motivated, obviously sponsored by the opposition.
Police caught a pair of eighth graders. They admitted throwing stones. The campaign office is in an abandoned car dealership and the teens say they had no idea it was there. They were just out to break some windows because nobody was around to catch them and they thought it would be fun.
The Congressman is trying to get ahead of the story. He made a grand gesture of forgiveness. He does not want to press charges against the two vandals. Anyone can make a mistake. He is even thinking of hiring them as interns. Might be a good experience for them.
The computer drive?
Well, heh heh. Funny story there. Turns out it was just an inexperienced volunteer who erased it entirely by accident. Why the initial connection with the break in? Well, the inexperienced staffer was sort of covering up. Took him a while to admit his mistake.
Who was the staffer? Oh, no need to go into that.
The Congressman from New York sets an example for us all with his numerous gestures of generosity and forgiveness.
The Grand Jury investigation continues despite the loss of the computer drive.
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