Time: Fri Dec 12 17:07:49 1997
From: Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar]
Bcc: sls


/s/ Paul Mitchell,
Candidate for Congress

>December 3, 1997
>AIM Column
>Years ago, we at Accuracy in Media learned that one must read newspapers
>with care - that journalistic bias or ineptitude is often revealed through
>what is not published, rather than the information that gets into print. A
>good example came in early December, with the criminal conviction of the
>chief of staff to Mike Espy, the former secretary of agriculture, on charges
>of lying to conceal $22,000 in gifts he took from businesses regulated by
>Espy. What network television and most newspapers did not include in their
>reports was the fact that the conviction of the aide, Ronald Blackley, came
>despite dogged opposition from Attorney General Janet Reno, who can't seem
>to decide whether her job is as the nation's chief prosecutor or as a
>protector of the Clinton Administration.
>Here's the story. In 1994, a panel of three federal judges appointed lawyer
>Donald Smaltz as independent counsel to investigate charges that Secretary
>Espy took illegal gifts from businesses his department regulated. The first
>flush of evidence was so abundant that Espy had to resign. Smaltz's
>investigation eventually turned up evidence that persons other than Espy
>were involved in the funny-money shenanigans, and he made a routine request
>to the Justice Department that his mandate be expanded to include the new
>targets. To his surprise, Reno's Justice Department refused his request,
>whereupon Smaltz appealed to the panel which appointed him. Reno's
>underlings did not desist. The Justice Department filed a motion with the
>panel opposing Smaltz's request. It came from Justice's Office of Public
>Integrity - and never has there been an office in Washington so
>inappropriately titled; it should be renamed the Office of Public Coverups.
>The judges, to their lasting credit, slapped aside Reno's opposition and
>told Smaltz to go after whatever malefactors he turned up.
>After a jury convicted Blackley, Smaltz spoke bitingly of how Janet Reno
>tried to impede his prosecution. The Justice Department should have
>conducted the prosecution itself, he maintained. Instead, Smaltz charged,
>Reno's opposition "significantly delayed our investigation and prosecution."
>Blackley's sins were not trivial. He now faces 15 years in jail and a
>$750,000 fine; Espy is under indictment and goes on trial next year. Now
>here's where the media fell down. The conviction came at the very time that
>Reno and a worried White House were insisting that no special counsel is
>needed in the campaign finance scandal, that she and the Justice Department
>can do a competent investigation. Her obstructionism in the Blackley case
>demonstrates otherwise. Yet neither The Washington Post nor The New York
>Times reported the post-trial criticisms which Smaltz made of Reno. Nor did
>any television evening news shows. The only news stories we saw of Smaltz's
>comments were in The Washington Times and USA Today. That watchdog Reno had
>been sleeping in her kennel was seemingly of no interest to other reporters.
>Blackley's conviction dashes claims by Clinton diehards that the independent
>counsels are squandering public money without any results. The President
>said derisively at a news conference on March 2, 1996, that Smaltz was
>wasting his time investigating a few thousand dollars in gratuities "with 33
>lawyers and a historian." In fact, Smaltz's investigation has collected an
>impressive number of scalps. Sun-Diamond Growers, a California cooperative,
>was convicted of giving more than $9,000 in gifts to Espy and paid a $1.5
>million fine. Crop Growers, another cooperative, paid $2 million on a
>no-contest plea to illegal gifts. Smith-Barney, the brokerage firm, paid a
>$1 million fine for illegal gifts. Washington lobbyist James Lake pleaded
>guilty to illegal gifts. A jury convicted Jack L. Williams, a lobbyist for
>Tyson Foods, for perjury, but an appeals court ordered a new trial. A fraud
>indictment against Espy's brother was dismissed.
>Smaltz has gone about his work in classic prosecutorial fashion, indicting
>and trying lesser figures and compiling the evidence that could mean big
>trouble for former Secretary Espy when he finally faces a jury. Turning an
>equally-dogged independent counsel loose on the Clinton-Gore campaign
>finance scandals could change the course of American history.
>We'll say this for Janet Reno: when she goes after good publicity, she
>receives it by the carload. In the days before her decision on the
>fundraising special counsel, The New York Times, Newsweek and Time praised
>her as a hard-worker who seldom takes a day off and who walks to her office
>every morning. Charming stuff, but also irrelevant. We'll agree that Miss
>Reno has a tough job: being the Cover-up Girl for the Clinton White House
>requires both nerves and a strong stomach.
>                      [backtoaimpoint.gif (1883 bytes)]

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