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Saturday, September 21, 2013
Follow the money
The alleged identity thief once known as “Bobby Thompson,” is awaiting trial in Ohio, accused of fraud for collecting as much as $100 million from donors who were led to believe they were helping a charity for U.S. Navy veterans. At least $2 million was taken from Virginians, according to authorities.
Thompson — his real name is John Donald Cody — tried to establish legitimacy for his scam by giving money to 50 candidates in 16 states. He was the second-biggest individual contributor to the 2009 campaign of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, now the GOP candidate for governor. Cuccinelli eventually gave the $55,500 to charity, long after Thompson had disappeared and other politicians forfeited similarly tainted contributions.
But Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said this week that Thompson’s political giving is “not really an essential part of proving the elements of the crime of his taking this money.”
DeWine, it should be noted, received $1,000 from Thompson for his unsuccessful 2006 U.S. Senate re-election bid. The case against Thompson was launched by DeWine’s predecessor, Democrat Richard Cordray, now director of the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Donations made by Thompson and his political action committee are public record. A full courtroom airing of his palm-greasing may not be essential to getting a conviction. But it would show the court and the public how far a con man will go to prey on the good hearts of generous citizens and naïveté of elected officials.
A nonpareil speller
Congratulations to U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, winner of Wednesday’s Centennial Spelling Bee, hosted by the National Press Club.
Virginia’s junior senator outlasted eight members of Congress and nine chagrined journalists to win the competition, which was held to commemorate a 1913 spelling bee that pitted lawmakers against reporters.
The event didn’t quite have the rigor of the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, the Super Bowl for adolescent brainiacs. The first contestant in Wednesday’s event was asked to spell “potato,” the word that famously tripped up former Vice President Dan Quayle a generation ago.
“If every spelling bee had an open bar, my elementary school years would have been much more pleasant,” Kaine quipped before successfully spelling “asymmetrical.”
Kaine smoothly handled words such as “exacerbate” (after asking that it be used in a limerick), “archipelago,” “nescience” and “aperitif” on his way to victory. He flubbed “fuchsia” and “ichthyologist” during a spell-off round against Politico’s Rebecca Sinderbrand before claiming the title with a correct spelling of “nonpareil.” He went home with the “Best Speller in the United States” trophy, a Merriam-Webster dictionary and a victory “for oppressed, poor male spellers everywhere.” And, perhaps, a renewed appreciation for students in the Scripps competition.
“I can’t even watch that show on TV,” Kaine said, according to the Huffington Post. “It makes me too nervous.”
A lack of greenbacks for green energy
You say you don’t want to heat up the globe to warm your toes? You’re seeking a loan to help with the cost of switching to solar energy so you can reduce your personal carbon footprint? Don’t look to Virginia’s Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund.
Granted, the General Assembly’s intent when it established the fund in 2011 was to make loans available for solar energy projects like photovoltaic electricity generators or solar water and space heaters in homes or businesses.
Not with state money, nor with electric utility dollars. Instead, investor-owned electric utilities — i.e., Appalachian Power and Dominion Virginia Power — must have a link on their websites that customers can click to make donations to start a revolving loan fund of half a million to 2 million dollars, to be administered by the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy.
The available balance as of late April: 54 cents. Loans made to date: 0. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported this week that all of $319.54 had been donated, and monthly transaction fees had eaten up $319.
Hardly surprising in Virginia, where institutional support for clean energy might generously be called lackluster, that such an initiative barely has two quarters to rub together.
Weather JournalBreather before next wintry system