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Palast: Give It Back, George - Wyly Coyotes' Loot

Give It Back, George
Did Wyly Coyotes' Ill-Gotten Loot Buy White House?

by Greg Palast
Monday, April 11, 2005

When the feds swoop down and cuff racketeers, they also load the vans with all the perp's ill-gotten gains: stacks of cash, BMWs, hideaway houses, whatever. Their associates have to cough up the goodies too -- lady friends must give up their diamond rocks. Under the racketeering law, RICO, even before a verdict, anything bought with the proceeds of the crime goes into the public treasury.

But there seems to be special treatment afforded those who loaded up on the 'bennies' of crimes committed by George Bush's buddies.

On Friday, the Manhattan District Attorney's office announced it had captured a couple of Texas varmints, the Wyly Brothers, Charles and Sam. The two have 'fessed to concealing half their holdings in one of the rich boys' companies, Michaels Stores. The grand jury is still out on deciding to indict the two for the crime of fraud upon the stock market.

Who are these guys? The billionaire brothers are "Pioneers" - not the kind that built little houses on the prairie, but the kind that agreed to raise over a hundred grand for George W. Bush's first Presidential run. Sam anted up more than a quarter million for the Republican National Committee in 2000.

But that's just the tip of the cash-berg for Bush. In 2000, Sen. John McCain was wiping the electoral floor with Bush Jr. in the Republican primaries until that March when the Wylys secretly put up two and half million dollars for a campaign to smear Bush's opponent just days before the crucial Southern primaries.

They repeated the trick in 2004, putting up cash for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the vicious little snipes who tore apart the Kerry campaign.

So what makes these guys so thrilled with Mr. Bush? There are more than ninety million reasons. While George W. was governor of Texas, investigative reporter Joe Conason discovered, a Wyly family private investment fund, Maverick Capital of Dallas, was awarded a state contract to invest $90 million for the University of Texas endowment.

That's not all. As Governor, Bush signed into law an electricity "deregulation" bill that was little more than ill-disguised raid on consumers' wallets by Texas power companies. The bill was in part drafted by an outfit called, a power company owned by - you guessed it - Sam Wyly.

On the day George W. signed the deregulation bill, Sam Wyly said, "Governor Bush's hard work and leadership have paid off." And, it seems, in 2000 and 2004, the Wylys paid back.

Last week, the Wyly brothers, knowing law men will probably seize their gains anyway, announced they would turn over their hidden loot to Michaels Stores' treasury -- a kind gesture, like a bank-robber turning over stolen cash in hopes of leniency.

But what about the racketeering rule requiring all cronies of the wrongdoers to give up the benefits of alleged crime?

If the G-men don't know where the tainted booty is cached, try this address: 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Ask for George or Dick.

Now it might be unfair to say that George Bush's campaigns succeeded solely because of the Wyly's loot. After all, the number one campaign contributors were Pioneer Ken Lay and his associates at Enron.

OK now, Mr. President, give it back- the millions stuffed in the pockets of the Republican campaign kitty filched from Enron retirees and the suckers in the stock market who didn't have the inside track like the Wylys.

When I worked as a racketeering investigator for government, nothing was spared, including houses bought with purloined loot. Let there be no exception here. It's time to tape up the White House gate and hang the sign: "Crime Scene: Property to be Confiscated. Vacate Premises Immediately."


Greg Palast is the author of the New York Times bestseller, the Best Democracy Money Can Buy. Subscribe to his columns at OUT IN THIS MONTH'S HARPER'S: Palast uncovers the secret State Department documents dividing up Iraq's oil.

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