These New Candidates Come with Heavy Baggage

Michael Bloomberg speaks in the Manhattan borough of New York, N.Y, U.S., May 30, 2019. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters)

Let’s close out this week with a quartet of surprises . . . that may not be quite so surprising, depending upon your level of cynicism: Michael Bloomberg was apparently a raging sexist before running for mayor; Deval Patrick made an egregious decision about a convicted sex offender while governor; Rashida Tlaib has run afoul of Federal Election Commission rules about payments to candidates; and Ivanka Trump has turned out to be a lot wonkier than I expected.

Michael Bloomberg, Notorious Creep

The New York Times reminds us that Michael Bloomberg, the divorced and never-remarried 14th-richest man in the world who has declared he’s automatically going to heaven, was once notoriously crude in his public comments about women:

It was a cheeky birthday gift for a hard-charging boss, a 32-page book of one-liners compiled by colleagues at his company. “The Portable Bloomberg: The Wit and Wisdom of Michael Bloomberg,” presented in 1990 to the future mayor of New York City, even featured drawings of its namesake in gladiatorial garb.

One remark attributed to Mr. Bloomberg went like this: “If women wanted to be appreciated for their brains, they’d go to the library instead of to Bloomingdale’s.” Another line, purportedly Mr. Bloomberg’s sales pitch for his eponymous computer terminal, said the machine will “do everything,” including oral sex, although a cruder term was used.

“I guess,” Mr. Bloomberg was quoted as saying, “that puts a lot of you girls out of business.”

This is separate from other allegations that portray Bloomberg as a shockingly obnoxious to women who worked for him:

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From 1996 to 1997, four women filed sexual-harassment or discrimination suits against Bloomberg the company. One of the suits included the following allegation: When Sekiko Sakai Garrison, a sales representative at the company, told Mike Bloomberg she was pregnant, he replied, “Kill it!” (Bloomberg went on, she alleged, to mutter, “Great, No. 16”—a reference, her complaint said, to the 16 women at the company who were then pregnant.) To these allegations, Garrison added another one: Even prior to her pregnancy, she claimed, Bloomberg had antagonized her by making disparaging comments about her appearance and sexual desirability. “What, is the guy dumb and blind?” he is alleged to have said upon seeing her wearing an engagement ring. “What the hell is he marrying you for?”

If he spoke to your girlfriend, wife, mother, sister or daughter that way, you’d want to reach down and punch him.

Bloomberg is the former pot-smoker who cracked down on marijuana users as mayor, the notoriously unhealthy eater who tried to ban large sodas, and the guy who travels with armed guards who is vehemently opposed to private gun ownership. His proposal to prevent African-American victims of gun violence was declaring police should seize guns from male minorities between ages 15 and 25, telling an audience that police should “throw them up against the wall and frisk them . . . We put all the cops in the minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do you do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.”

He is here to turn your rights into privileges, America. If Michael Bloomberg didn’t exist, conservatives and libertarians would have to invent him as their ultimate villain.

Deval Patrick’s ‘Family Values’

Meanwhile, a revelation like this should end Deval Patrick’s presidential campaign before it starts. Let’s go back to Patrick’s time as governor:

In 1993, [Bernard Sigh] pleaded guilty of spousal rape in a case involving his wife, who is [Deval] Patrick’s sister. Controversy that followed the case during Patrick’s run for governor intensified in 2014 after a lawsuit over Patrick’s decision to fire the head of the Sex Offender Registry Board, Saundra Edwards. Edwards accused Patrick of retaliating against her efforts to get Sigh to register as a sex offender. Patrick has said he believed Edwards sought to influence the case “inappropriately.”

Let’s make one thing clear: governors should not be intervening in legal decisions that involve their brothers-in-law, and they should not be firing people who made decisions against their brothers-in-law. It is just about the most glaring conflict-of-interest imaginable.

Edwards sued Patrick for defamation, but a court ruled that she could not prove actual malice. Her lawsuit against the state for wrongful termination is ongoing.

Then, in 2017, Bernard Sigh was again arrested on charges of assault to rape, as well as assault and battery on a household member, in a case prosecutors said was “very similar” to the 1993 circumstances. Prosecutors indicted Sigh on additional charges later, and in June of this year, Sigh was convicted on two counts of rape, kidnapping, stalking, witness intimidation and violating a restraining order, and sentenced to six to eight years in prison.

Again, this is the man who Deval Patrick insisted did not need to be registered as a sex offender and intervened to keep off the sex offender list.

You Can’t Get Paid That Way, Congresswoman Tlaib

The House of Representatives Office of Congressional Ethics approved an investigation and review of Rashida Tlaib and her congressional committee, declaring there is “substantial reason to believe that Rep. Tlaib converted campaign funds from Rashida Tlaib for Congress to personal use or Rep. Tlaib’s campaign committee expended funds that were not attributable to bona fide campaign or political purposes” and that she “may have violated House rules, standards of conduct, and federal law.” The vote was 5-0.

In case you’re wondering about that federal law, a candidate can be paid a salary by a campaign under certain circumstances, but the Federal Election Commission specifically states, “salary payments may continue until the date when the candidate is no longer considered a candidate for office or until the date of the general election or general election runoff.” Tlaib’s campaign paid her $45,500.00 between May 7, 2018 and December 1, 2018, but $17,500 of that amount was paid to her after Election Day.  The OCE noted that the December 1, 2018 check — for $15,500 — “includes a notation with the dates ‘11/16 – 12/31.’” Election Day was November 6 that year.

Tlaib insists she’s done nothing wrong and is cooperating fully with the inquiry, but the committee notes she declined an interview and her staff did as well.

For obvious reasons, the FEC doesn’t want candidates using campaign donations for personal use and puts strict rules on how a candidate can be paid by a campaign. Donors are giving money to elect the candidate, not help the candidate cover the regular expenses of life. Incumbents can’t collect salaries from campaigns at all, the salary can’t exceed the income from the previous year, and payments can’t start before the candidate formally files to run for office.

Ivanka Trump Knows What She’s Talking About on Family Leave Policy.

I was able to catch Ramesh’s conversation with Ivanka Trump about family leave policy, an event organized by the National Review Institute at the Washington offices of Google.  You can watch the conversation here.

I’m not a huge fan of having presidential relatives heading up policy initiatives in a White House; when your brother is attorney general or your wife is putting together your health care plan, it’s really hard to overrule them or dismiss them if they do a bad job. But I was pleasantly surprised — Ivanka Trump knows this issue backwards and forwards. Ramesh is one of the smartest guys I know, and Ivanka was well-versed in the details of policy, the competing policy proposals on Capitol Hill, and the currents and dynamics that have to be managed to put together a majority to pass legislation on this issue. If I had to describe her from watching her in person, I’d use the term “extraordinarily poised.”

On paper, there’s room for a bipartisan consensus here; social conservatives are increasingly comfortable requiring employers to give a little more help to new parents, and Democrats always want to regulate everything — er, I mean they’re open to enacting new rules to make businesses more responsive to the needs of working parents. Trump kept emphasizing that parents who have access to paid leave after giving birth or adopting a child are significantly less likely to go on public assistance, so this policy can be justified on fiscal grounds. If you can keep people off of welfare, you never face the challenge of getting them off of it and back into the workforce.

ADDENDUM: Life as a conservative on social media: “Wow, I lost about 1,000 Twitter followers overnight . . . Did Twitter just clear out some bots? Or are they somehow automatically having people unfollow me? Or is it just that a surprising number of my followers are loyal to Adam Gase? The Facebook work page is reaching way fewer Facebook users than it usually does . . . is it the algorithm? Am I being shadow-banned? Am I just not as share-able as I used to be?”

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