The Truth On Our New Ambassador May Be Near
This week's proposed US Senate-Jesse Helms confirmation hearing over the appointment of Carol Moseley-Braun as New Zealand Ambassador, is likely to bring information on her background sharply back into focus. John Howard reports.
According to Jane Chastain, whom Jesse Helms helped get a TV sportscaster job when women weren't considered for sports casting, Moseley-Braun's campaign for US Senator in 1992 has been under as big a cloud as Bill Clinton's 1996 presidential campaign, but thanks to some handiwork at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) and the Justice Department neither has been successfully resolved.
"By giving Moseley-Braun a hearing, Helms may succeed in uncovering at least one scandal buried by Clinton administration funeral director, Janet Reno," Chastain said.
"The nomination of Moseley-Braun is now seen by many as simply the latest act of recklessness by an unrepentant president besieged by a campaign finance scandal, which was swept under a rug at the Justice Department, she said
"The Moseley-Braun cloud involved some $280,000 in political donations that may have been diverted to pay for designer clothes, jewellery, cars and luxury vacations for her and her campaign manager and former boyfriend, Kgosie Matthews."
"The FEC did not clear Moseley-Braun of wrongdoing, but merely closed the books on the investigation with the five-year statute of limitations running out. The FEC stated it did not have time to conclude its investigation."
"The IRS Criminal Investigative Division initiated a probe into whether Moseley-Braun used this money for personal use without reporting the income and paying taxes. The IRS twice asked the Justice Department to open a grand jury investigation of Moseley-Braun and was denied," Chastain said
"Questions are now being asked how Moseley-Braun, a $45,000-a-year Cook County recorder of deeds, managed to afford such a lavish lifestyle in the months immediately after her election to the US Senate that included expensive vacations, travel by private jet and the Concorde and a $950-a-night suite in Maui? How did she manage to come up with the cash for a Jeep Cherokee or $10,000 for jewellery in Aspen?"
"And who authorised Matthews to charge thousands of dollars in designer clothes in Beverly Hills on his campaign-issued MasterCard? These are just some of the issues that the FEC and the Justice Department chose to ignore," said Chastain.
Moseley-Braun answered the criticisms about the expenses by saying she had earned extra cash doing legal work on the side and making paid speeches. Matthews says he was owed an equivalent amount of out-of-pocket expenses he had incurred on the campaign's behalf.
Chastain says, "The FEC processes have now been examined and it has been discovered that auditors did raise questions but the questions never made it onto the public record."
Republican Trevor Potter, a former FEC chairman said, "Had I been aware that evidence existed, it would have been a serious matter, and I would have exepcted the commission to pursue it."
"As these facts are explored in her confirmation hearing for ambassador to New Zealand, hopefuly the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will decide to keep her home. Rest assured this decision will supported by the real women of America, from all ethnic persuasions, who agree with Senator Helms that our highest-ranking diplomatic officials should be above reproach," Chastain concluded.