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Comments by YACCS
Friday, June 30, 2006

So when does the race card comes out?

Playing the race card?

Kean Is Preparing a Campaign Film Against Menendez in the Style of a Swift Boat Ad

Published: June 30, 2006

The Republican candidate for the United States Senate in New Jersey, Thomas H. Kean Jr., intends to make a campaign film that accuses his Democratic opponent, Robert Menendez, of "being wrapped up in the rackets for 30 years" despite public records and statements by former federal prosecutors that contradict Mr. Kean's most serious charges.

Mr. Kean's chief campaign consultant, Matt Leonardo, a strategist for Republican candidates, disclosed the plans in an interview and said the film would be "very similar" in purpose to the commercials used to attack the military record of John Kerry during the 2004 presidential race.

Kean campaign officials have sought to erode their opponent's public biography, charging that virtually every moment of Mr. Menendez's career has been mired in graft and bossism. That includes his early days in Union City, where Mr. Menendez has said that he acted to thwart a racketeering scheme involving his own political associates and organized crime figures — a claim that is documented in public records and corroborated by independent authorities.

Nevertheless, the Kean campaign will challenge that biography in "a long-form film," Mr. Leonardo said, just as commercials broadcast in 2004 attacked Mr. Kerry's military record. Those commercials, relying on claims by a group called Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, purported to expose Mr. Kerry's military decorations as exaggerated or fraudulent. Although the premise and many elements of the Swift boat advertisements were strongly disputed, as a whole they were seen as successful in hobbling the Kerry campaign.

"The similarity between the Swift boat ads and this movie — you have two individuals who have told stories for a political purpose and the facts just don't jibe," Mr. Leonardo said. "And these two individuals were able to get away with telling it their way for more than a decade and a half. I would say it's very similar in that way."

Mr. Kean's most serious charge is that Mr. Menendez was "part of a massive illegal kickback scheme" as a Union City official in 1978, and not the courageous truth teller depicted in his résumé. Mr. Kean charges that Mr. Menendez cooperated with prosecutors to keep himself out of jail.

Mr. Kean's charges are not, however, supported by the public record and were repudiated by independent authorities including the four assistant United States attorneys who prosecuted Union City officials of that era for racketeering and corruption. There is no truth, those former officials say, to the Kean campaign's charge that Mr. Menendez made a deal to keep himself out of prison.

The prosecutors said the actions of Mr. Menendez, as the secretary of the Union City Board of Education from 1978 to 1982, were "gutsy" and "courageous." They said he was never in legal jeopardy. During a four-month trial in 1981 and 1982, the corrupt contractor at the center of the scheme testified that Mr. Menendez created headaches for the plotters when he balked at processing fraudulent paperwork needed for a kickback scheme.

He said that the film would not rely on money from a 527 committee, the type of tax-exempt but politically active organization that financed the Swift boat commercials attacking Mr. Kerry.

Both he and Ms. Hazelbaker said that the source — campaign money as opposed to a 527 committee — was the primary distinction between the Swift boat commercials and the planned film on Mr. Menendez.

"They're similar," Ms. Hazelbaker said, "in the sense both intended to expose facts about biography."

The Menendez campaign said the film would damage Mr. Kean.

"A lie is a lie, no matter how many times Tom Kean Jr. repeats it," said Matt Miller, a spokesman for Mr. Menendez. "He already has been exposed as a fraud. He has destroyed his credibility, and he is on a fast track to ruining a respected family name."

I, personally, never heard a word about Bob Menendez being corrupt. I covered northern Hudson County, my friends covered Northern Hudson County. Never heard a word of the man being on the take. Jim Dwyer never heard a word either and he covered the corruption trials.

And Hudson County was jammed packed with crooks, just filled with them. To go after Menendez in this way not only reeks of stupidity, but of racism. Tom Kean is making up shit contrary to the record and I can only believe it is to convince central Jersey independents that they can't trust the Latino from crooked Hudson County.

There can't be any other strategy behind this. It's Willie Horton, 2006.

Tom Kean is playing with fire. Because North Jersey pols do not play easy. He better not have a girlfriend or a crooked buddy in the mix. And he better watch the Spanish language media. Because Bob Menendez has friends, and they are not the easygoing people Kean grew up with. They play for keeps. And this unwarranted attack isn't going to go down like the Swift Boat, Menedez is going to come out swinging and he should. This stuff borders on libel.

The one thing I can say is that when everyone was around Menendez and stealing, he wasn't. He helped the cops, which could have gotten his corspe left in Liberty State Park next to the dead dogs and roosters from the Santeria ceremonies.

posted by Steve @ 12:43:00 AM

12:43:00 AM

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