Now THIS Is The Appearance Of Impropriety…

impropriety

The big legal ethics story of the day is a Wall Street Journal report showing that 131 federal judges, appointed by nearly every President from Lyndon Johnson to Donald Trump, have violated federal law by failing to recuse themselves in cases where either they or family members held a financial interest in one of the parties, meaning that the judge’s decision could have resulted in a direct or indirect benefit. This is, of course, a conflict of interest. Even if the judge was as trustworthy as a saint and would never dream of allowing such a conflict to interfere with his or her judgment, allowing these cases to appear before them violates the judicial ethics canon requiring judges to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

The Wall Street Journal report found that the judges failed to recuse themselves from 685 court cases since 2010. About two-thirds of all federal district judges had holdings of individual stocks, about one of every five of these heard at least one case involving those stocks without withdrawing. When these judges participated in such cases, about two-thirds of their rulings on motions favored the party that their or their family’s financial interests would benefit from prevailing.

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A Ripley! Believe It Or Not, Rep. Ted Lieu Is Even Worse Than You Thought!

believe-it-or-not

This is right up there with Robert Ripley’s discovery of “the Lighthouse Man,” a Szechuan eccentric who drilled a hole into his skull so he could carry a lit candle on his head to light the way through dark passages. After all, Ted Lieu (D-Cal) has already proven himself to be unbelievably awful, with a series of unbelievable statements (and I’m sure I’ve missed a lot). In 2018, for example, he told CNN host Brianna Keilar, among other things, “I would love to be able to regulate the content of speech.” Ethics Alarms named him the Incompetent Elected Official of the Month back in 2011, when he was just a humble State Senator. Naturally, by the consistent logic of California voters, this distinction meant he was ready for the big time, and should be sent to Washington. He was, and racked up two more Incompetent Elected Official awards and an Ethics Dunce. Lieu would be a legitimate feature in several Ripley strips: for example, he is not the dumbest member of Congress. Believe it or not!

He’s probably not the most unethical either, despite this news: Lieu contributed $51,046 to his alma mater, Stanford University, shortly before his son was admitted. Not only did he do this while the “Varsity Blues” celebrity college admissions scandal was being roundly condemned, but according to reports, the bribe was came out of Lieu’s campaign funds.

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Not QUITE Hypocrisy, But Close Enough For An Eye-Roll: The Democratic Attempt To Reverse An Iowa House Election

Democrats have only a razor-thin 219-211 advantage in the House of Representatives (with five current vacancies). Although state officials declared Republican Mariannette Miller-Meeks the winner in the state’s Second Congressional District after she won her race by just six votes out of nearly 400,000 cast, and though she took the oath of office in Washington in January, Nancy Pelosi set the ball rolling for the House of Representatives to overrule the state and award the seat to Miller-Meeks’ Democratic opponent, Rita Hart.

She has refused to concede the race, claiming that 22 disallowed ballots should have made her the winner if counted. The House has the rarely used power under the Constitution to arbitrate “elections, returns and qualifications of its own members,” and in 1969, Congress passed the Federal Contested Elections Act to set up a clear process governing how it should hear and decide such cases. So now Democrats have initiated an investigation by the House Administration Committee, a full-scale review into the election that could lead to impounding ballots, a hand recount and ultimately a vote by the full House to decide the election.

But…but… I thought members of the House and Senate refusing to accept the state-certified results of the 2020 Presidential election was an attack on democracy itself (although this too is allowed under the Constitution)! Well, that was Republicans, you see, and the complaining candidate was Donald Trump. Come on. Be reasonable. Besides, why would anyone suspect that the review of the Iowa House election would be subject to partisan bias and manipulation?

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Now THIS Is The “Appearance of Impropriety”!

Was Joe Biden’s nomination of Senator Joe Manchin’s wife to a $165,000 post in his administration a bribe or a pay-off? So far, there’s no way to tell, but there is also no question about whether it creates an appearance of impropriety, which undermines public trust in the government, assuming there is any left at this point. It does. In fact, I can’t think of a more vivid example. The ethics rules governing government employees and judges, as well as members of Congress, prohibit conduct that creates the appearance of impropriety. The President and Vice-President are not covered by the rules. The circumstances around this appointment create only, well, circumstantial evidence of corruption, but then that’s what “appearance” means. It is conduct that creates suspicion.

Boy, does this ever.

Two days after Sen. Manchin cast a last-minute deciding vote on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s that advanced Biden’s controversial Pentagon policy nominee, Colin Kahl, to the full Senate, Manchin’s wife Gayle was announced as the surprise nominee to be federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. The agency focuses on investing in Appalachia’s economic future by “providing grants, publishing research, and sponsoring learning experience.”

This, several news sources wrote, “raises questions about whether there was any connection between his vote and his wife’s nomination.” Ya think? The Biden administration has made it clear that if a nominee isn’t gay, trans, non-white, disabled, or a fire-breathing radical, there is no place for he/she/whatever. Why would a middle-of-the road, white woman from West Virginia qualify, other than the fact that she is, in fact, qualified for the job by those old fashioned, racist standards of yore?

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Last Gasp Ethics, New Year’s Eve 2020

Happy New Year, Everybody!

1. A late entry in the “Most Unethical Lawyer of 2020” competition! McGinnis E. Hatfield was stripped of his license to practice law by the West Virginia Supreme Court. What did he do? Well, this section of a transcript of his conversation with a female client explains things pretty well:

Female: “I thought like when we first started out, I was just going to pay you. I didn’t know that you wanted sex out of the whole thing.”

Hatfield: “Well, I’d have to charge you like $1,500 bucks. You don’t have $1,500, do you?”

Female: “No.”

Hatfield “So come on out here. Just come. What time do you want to come?… [I]t’s just not going to work unless you do what I say.”

Female: “What do you want me to do?”

Hatfield: “… “Well, I want you to let me eat your pussy, and then I want you to let – I want you to suck my dick, and then, you know, I just have to – I’m as straightforward as I can be. And if you don’t want to do that, then fine. I don’t have any- I like you. And if you don’t want to do that, then we’ll just have to call it off.”

Female: “Is that not – all right. That’s fine. Whatever.”

Hatfield: “Is that okay?”

Female: “I mean no, not really because I’m not a whore.”

Hatfield: ” … And like I said, if you won’t want to do that, then that’s fine by me. I wish you luck. And if you don’t want to do that, then I’m not going to try to represent you. So that’s a benefit for you. And I’ll give you some money, too[.]”… You know, I’m shooting straight with you. I told you from the beginning that sex was important to me. I want some now. Nobody’s tried to trick you. And it would be safe, too. But anyway, if you don’t want to do it, that’s fine by me, honey, but you’ll have to get somebody to help you with your divorce, too.”

Female: “Okay, That’s fine.

Of course, it’s not fine. Lawyers are prohibited from having sex with clients in most jurisdictions. Lawyers cannot encourage individuals, including clients, to commit a crime. Mr. Hatfield compounded his problems when he flunked the easiest part of a disciplinary inquiry, telling the judge who asked Hatfield whether in retrospect, he found his behavior inappropriate or unethical,

“I think my conduct in this whole situation is human. And that’s the only defense I’m offering. Lord knows, we all need that. So that’s as far as I’ll go with that.”

The judge tried again, asking, “Are you remorseful?” Hatfield replied, “No. I have no remorse. I feel like I’ve been victimized.”

What an idiot.

It put me in mind of the Steven Wright line, “How did the fool and his money get together in the first place?”

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Ethics Proposition: Justice Barrett Should Immediately Recuse Herself From Any Future SCOTUS Decisions Relating to the 2020 Presidential Election

Barrett Trump

I will stipulate that the newest Supreme Court Justice does not have to recuse, and that even the judicial ethics rules applying to other Federal judges (no judicial ethics rules are controlling for Supreme Court justices) would not require recusal in Justice Barrett’s circumstances.

I will also concede that the arguments that she should not recuse are significant and important:

1. Were she to recuse, it would be interpreted by many as an acknowledgment that her Senate critics and others were correct to suspect that she was nominated to assist the President if necessary in any Supreme Court challenges to the election results.

2. Her recusal would suggest a precedent holding that a Justice being nominated by a President creates a rebuttable presumption that such a Justice has a conflict of interest that would interfere with the Justice’s ability to exercise independent and objective judgment in any case directly affecting that President’s interests.

3. Her recusal would leave the Court with a potential 4-4 split on a case that would have major impact on the nation.

4. Democratic officials’ demands that she recuse herself are driven purely by partisanship, and are hypocritical. Justice Kagan, appointed by President Obama, did not recuse herself in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, for example.

All this is true,

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Good Morning! Here’s Your 2020 Election Ethics Train Wreck Update To Start The Week Off Right… [Updated And Revised]

red flags

NOTICE OF UPDATE: The numbers J.D. Rucker used in the sources for this post can no longer be verified. Now HIS alleged source is showing numbers that don’t support his argument. I can’t imagine that Rucker, who has some credibility and writes for various conservative publications, would make up statistics wholesale for a post about statistics. I can imagine the statistics being altered after he called attention to their suspicious nature, since there is such a concerted effort to discredit any claims that the voting totals may not be accurate, but there is no evidence of that. This is the whole problem. There are no reliable sources.

\You want smoke? You want red flags? You want the appearance of impropriety? You want to hear about yet another dubiously flipped crucial state in the 2020 election?

Conservative writer J.D. Rucker reported that numbers from DecisionDeskHQ showed that 5,867,609 people in Michigan voted for President  while only 5,717,819 voted in the hotly contested Senate election. That’s a 149,790 difference. As of the time of his post, he wrote, Joe Biden was ahead by 145,935 votes.

“What a coinkydink!” (Special credit for identifying the film quote and the actor!)

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Election 2020: The Appearance Of Impropriety Or Real Impropriety? Part II, An Accountant’s Analysis

Larry Correia, a perceptive blogger who approaches issues with the mind of a veteran accountant and auditor, has concluded regarding the 2020 election that “Fuckery is Afoot.” In a 3000+ word post, Correia (whose tart and blunt analysis I last featured here), begins,

I am more offended by how ham-fisted, clumsy, and audacious the fraud to elect him is than the idea of Joe Biden being president…. However, what is potentially fatal for America is half the populace believing that their elections are hopelessly rigged, and they’re eternally fucked. And now, however this shakes out in court, that’s exactly what half the country is going to think.  …In auditing you look for red flags. That’s weird bits in the data that suggest something shifty is going on. You flag those weird things so you can delve into them further. One flag doesn’t necessarily mean there’s fraud. Weird things happen. A few flags mean stupidity or dishonesty. But a giant pile of red flags means that there’s bad shit going on and people should be in jail.

Here are just some of the “red flags” that Correia identifies…

  • The massive turn out alone is a red flag.
  • The late-night spikes that were enough to close all the Trump leads are a red flag.
  • The statistically impossible breakdown of the ratios of these vote dumps is a red flag.
  • The ratios of these dumps being far better than the percentages in the bluest of blue cities, even though the historical data does not match, red flag.
  • The ratios of these vote dumps favoring Biden more in these few battlegrounds than the ratio for the rest of the country (even the bluest of the blue) red flag.
  • Biden outperforming Obama among these few urban vote dumps, even though Trump picked up points in every demographic group in the rest of the country, red flag.
  • The poll observers being removed. Red flag.
  • The counters cheering as GOP observers are removed, red flag.
  • The fact that the dem observers outnumber the GOP observers 3 to 1, red flag (and basis of the first lawsuit filed)The electioneering at the polls (on video), red flag.
  • The willful violation of the court order requiring the separation of ballots by type, red flag.
  • [The] USPS whistleblower reporting to the Inspector General that today they were ordered to backdate ballots to yesterday, red flag.
  • The video of 2 AM deliveries of what appear to be boxes of ballots with no chain of custody or other observers right before the late night miracle spikes, red flag.

Any of those things would be enough to trigger an audit in the normal world.This many flags and I’d be giggling in anticipation of catching some thieves…This is going to the courts.

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Election 2020: The Appearance Of Impropriety Or Real Impropriety? Part I, Georgia On My Mind

Georgia vote Count

I woke up this morning to find that overnight (at about 4 am) Georgia, a state President Trump had to must win to wend his way through the tiny window now open to his re-election (Arizona, Alaska, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania) had flipped to the Biden side with a less than a thousand vote edge to the ex-VP. This now makes three crucial states (the others being Wisconsin and Michigan) that switched leads in the dead of night…possibly a coincidence, but not a good look for Democrats, or the nation.

Of course this is substantially the result of mail-in ballots, which the Democrats championed. Anyone capable of thought could figure out that the system was a recipe for fraud, manipulation and chaos, so it is basic logic to presume that this is what the Democrats (and their allies, the news media) wanted. As I have read in maybe ten places this morning alone, the longer and more convoluted a process is, the easier it is to rig it. That is true.

See the tweet above? It appears that Democrats in Georgia organized to “get out the vote” after the election. Maybe there’s an innocent explanation, but 1) you can’t blame people for being alarmed 2) there are no such tweets from the Republicans.

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Day After The Day After Updates And Observations On The 2020 Election

Thanksgiving hangover

1. I had written some time ago that the best possible outcome ethically would be a Trump landslide, and the worst would be a Trump win in the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. Somehow I missed the obvious worst scenario, which is what we are getting: a mega-2000 mess, with multiple states in doubt for various questionable factors, resulting in litigation by both sides, stretching on into December.

This was one more example of how the false and biased polls interfered with legitimate analysis.

2. I have frequently praised Richard Nixon for passing on the opportunity to challenge the results in Illinois, Texas and other states after the 1960 election, and saying that it was more important to respect the process and not throw an election into turmoil. Of course, based on what we know about Nixon. That may have been a ploy and virtue signaling: while there was certainly some voting shenanigans, notably in Richard Daley’s notoriously corrupt Chicago, Nixon maybe have been told that he would lose anyway, and that challenging the results would make it harder for him to come back and win in ’64 or ’68. Nonetheless, Nixon set the norm, and Al Gore broke it in 2000. Now it seems insane for a party to not to challenge a close election if there seems to be any question about the legitimacy of the result.

That shift is also a reflection of the widening chasm between the two parties. There wasn’t much difference philosophically between the Democrats and Republicans in 1960, nor between Nixon and Kennedy. (There wasn’t much difference between their ethical instincts either, but we didn’t know that at the time.) Today there is every reason to believe that for a party to just shrug off the possibility that a Presidency has been stolen in the best interests of the nation is a breach of duty and a betrayal of the public trust.

However, a party (like the Democrats since 2016) or a candidate (like Hillary Clinton) continuing to deny the results after they have been validated is unforgivable and destructive.

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