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Skeletons in the Closet: Sooner or Later

Most political figures think they are pretty clever. Some of them are even right about that. However, the various activist groups and media organizations out there have some pretty clever people on staff, too. And those folks are very good at turning over rocks and looking in closets, in order to find any dirty secrets that might be hidden. It's really only a matter of time, particularly now that we live in the information age. Yesterday, there were three different stories about bad behavior that the perpetrator tried to hide.

First, and most important, is a regular "star" of items like these: Clarence Thomas. ProPublica continues to haunt the Associate Justice's every waking moment; their latest report dramatically expands the picture of how very much he was on the take. Specifically, the organization has now uncovered 38 different luxury vacations that Thomas took on someone else's dime. And, in an absolutely stunning coincidence, all of the folks providing those dimes just so happened to have a stake in business before the Supreme Court. What are the odds?

The rundown of the various trips reads like a "greatest hits" episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous:

[A] voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas; 26 private jet flights, plus an additional eight by helicopter; a dozen VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, typically perched in the skybox; two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica; and one standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club overlooking the Atlantic coast.

Somehow, Thomas forgot to include any of this information on his disclosure forms. And his list of benefactors has expanded; it wasn't just Harlan Crow who provided these perks, it was also billionaire investor David Sokol, billionaire entrepreneur H. Wayne Huizenga, and billionaire oil baron Paul "Tony" Novelly. All of these men, like Crow, became "friends" with Thomas after the Justice's appointment to the Supreme Court.

There's no need to mince words; this is corruption on a grand scale. There is no doubt that Thomas has persuaded himself that it was all kosher, but that doesn't mean much, since corrupt people always convince themselves that their behavior is honest. Congressional Democrats are once again calling for Thomas to resign, but there is zero chance he's going to listen. The only slight possibility for a premature departure is if he is charged with a crime and if he is convicted. Those are some pretty big "ifs," and even then, he might try to hold on.

Moving along, The Washington Post decided to put Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL?) under the microscope, and they discovered something interesting: He is clearly a resident of Florida. He owns a fancy house in Florida, along with a condo there. Until a week before he declared for the U.S. Senate, he was registered to vote in Florida, and cast his ballots there. Tuberville's wife is employed as an agent by a Florida real estate firm, and his expense reports are full of items from Santa Rosa Beach, FL, which is where the fancy house is, and virtually nothing from Alabama.

In order to qualify for Alabama residency, Tuberville claimed that his primary residence is a house in Auburn, which is owned by his wife and by "Tommy Tuberville." However, a close look reveals that the Tommy Tuberville in this case is the Senator's son (who has a different middle initial). And even the son doesn't actually live at the house, as he is employed in New York City.

Even though the Senator has clearly misrepresented himself, and has almost certainly violated the constitutional requirements for service as a senator ("No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen."), it is very unlikely that anything will come of this. There is no mechanism for removing a member of Congress, once they have been formally seated, outside of expulsion by the chamber in which the member serves. No member of the Senate has been expelled since 1862, and no member of either chamber has ever been expelled because they were not legally qualified to serve. When the Senator comes up for reelection in 2026, however, he will undoubtedly draw one or more challengers who attack him as a carpetbagger. Maybe that will work, because Southerners hate carpetbaggers. But probably not, because their love for football coaches is even greater.

And finally, there is sleazy news involving a much smaller fish than Thomas or Tuberville, which makes the cut only because we were writing this anyhow. Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL) represents the pretty red FL-11, which is R+8. Although he's plenty Trumpy, he's being challenged from the right by former state representative Anthony Sabatini, who is a MAGA favorite. In general, Trumpers frown on education and pointy-headed intellectuals unless the educated person is one of their own. And in Sabatini's case, his supporters have often trumpeted the fact that he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Florida.

Unlike, say, Rep. "George Santos" (R-NY), Sabatini really does have a diploma from U of F, and it really does say magna cum laude on it. However, the Daily Beast discovered that his honors thesis, which was necessary to both his graduation and his Latin honors, was substantially plagiarized from Wikipedia. We're not sure how honors theses are reviewed at that institution, but it surely must have been read by at least one faculty member (and possibly more), right? How the plagiarism, which was extremely clumsy, escaped them, we do not know. Especially since the thesis was about Friedrich Nietzsche, and yet the first name was consistently rendered as "Freidrich." It's certainly not like (Z)'s honors thesis as an undergrad; on every reference he got Aberaham Lincoln's name exactly right.

Under normal circumstances, something like this would be fatal to an aspiring member of Congress. However, Sabatini just went from being a guy with a fancy degree to a guy who put one over on the liberal elites in their ivory towers. Given the worldview of the MAGA crowd, not to mention the biography of their Dear Leader, Sabatini might actually be more marketable today than he was yesterday. Who knows? (Z)

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