Cardoza resigns: Good riddance

We don't know how you fell but we loathe people who blame their children in front of others for their own failures, and we despise Dennis Cardoza for blaming his children in front of the entire national media (or whoever would be interested in anything this fat, little slimebag did) for quitting his congressional seat before his term expired to take a job with the Manatt firm of bottom-feeding lobbyists for more money, The job was no doubt arranged for Cardoza by Tony "Honest Graft" Coelho, an old friend of the firm dating back to the days when Ol' Honest ran the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and, with his characteristic manic energy, succeeded in selling most of the Democratic Party into the bondage of lobbyists and fundraisers like Manatt. These are the sort of grimey people that Cardoza has chosen to sell his votes and his district's welfare to all along.

What about all the people in his district who have teenage children but do not have fulltime medical staff at home (Dr. Kathleen McLoughlin aka Mrs. Cardoza) and the best health insurance that political graft can extract from public funds? The only interest Cardoza and his fellow Blue Dogs had in the health-insurance reform fight was in how much they could shake down the insurance companies for. He never held one open meeting in his district to find out how his constitutents thought and felt about the issue because, aside from the usual local oligarchy of rich white men, Cardoza never gave a damn about opinion in his district.

He used everything about his adoption of the abused boy and girl from Kern County. By exploiting his foster parenting publicly he turned what is in itself a noble commitment into a cheap campaign stunt. He used them to justify moving his family to a rural ranchette outside Annapolis MD. Now he uses them as an excuse to resign before his term is out. How will he use them when he fails as a lobbyist? And he wonders why his so publically adopted childens, these recipients of his glorious charity, are troublesome?

But that was Dennis, a tasteless failure from beginning to end.

And incompetent to make anything good happen or to prevent anything bad from happening. Although local Cardoza yes persons said a few things on his behalf like "he knew how to get things done," if the respect of your peers is any indication of how effective a legislator is, Cardoza's peers eliminated his district, throwing enough Fresno votes into the new district that Rep. Jim Costa would have stomped him if Cardoza hadn't "graciously" stepped aside.
He mismanaged his political career in the one office open to him that did not have term limits so badly that he is a has-been at 53.

Many would argue with that assessment, noting that without Cardoza, UC Merced would not have arrived. If trampling local, state and federal environmental law and regulation and the laws of public process is a great, positive achievement, graced by a few UFO-like structures landed in pastures that contain the greatest amount of vernal pools and their associated 15 endangered species in the country. You can doll up that campus with solar panels and even paint it grass green and you cannot cover up the environmental damage the campus has done. Likewise, since the campus, even before it was a "done deal," had become the anchor tenant for the largest, shortest and most ruinously financed housing-growth bubble in history and brought the entire north San Joaquin Valley to its knees financially, still producing some of the highest per capita forclosure rates in the nation, a couple of years after the facility accepted its first students, mostly from East LA.

We don't know how much Cardoza and his family made personally on the real estate boom but we do know he now lives in rural Maryland and owns 10 race horses.

Badlands Journal editorial board

Modesto Bee

Merced Rep. Dennis Cardoza resigns, cites family needs
By Michael Doyl

WASHINGTON -- Citing sensitive family needs, Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, has tendered his immediate resignation from the House of Representatives and joined a lobbying firm.

The surprisingly timed departure takes effect at midnight tonight.

A veteran San Joaquin Valley politician first elected to the House in 2002, the 53-year-old Cardoza will be joining the law-and-lobbying powerhouse Manatt, Phelps and Phillips in its Washington, D.C., office.

Cardoza previously had announced he would not run for re-election. While citing the toxic partisan gridlock on Capitol Hill, he primarily attributed his sped-up timing to growing burdens on the home front.

"In light of the fact that nothing is going to happen for the rest of the year, and in light of the fact that (my wife) and I are facing increasing parenting challenges, this seemed the right time to make this move," Cardoza said in an interview Monday.

He and his wife, Dr. Kathleen McLoughlin, have three children: a biological daughter and two adopted siblings. The adopted children, a brother and sister originally from Kern County, joined the Cardoza household in 2000 after living in foster homes. They are now teenagers.

Cardoza previously has spoken publicly, in general terms, about the dangers posed to foster-care children exposed at a young age to unstable households and drugs such as methamphetamine, and he has won bipartisan praise for legislation he's introduced to address some of the related problems. He said his children's privacy rights prevent him from offering more details about their status.

Other lawmakers have made similar choices, drawing attention to the constant tension between keeping a family and enduring the long hours and constant travel required of Congress members. Last month, similarly citing an unspecified "family health issue," Kentucky Republican Geoff Davis announced his immediate resignation. Joe Scarborough, now an MSNBC personality, cited his children in 2001 when he resigned five months into his fourth House term.

A senior member of the House Agriculture Committee and a one-time member of the extended House leadership team, Cardoza said some job feelers were extended to him soon after he announced his retirement plans.

He said he did not pursue the opportunities at the time. On Monday, he expressed interest in potentially serving on some corporate boards and in investment banking.

"I'm not leaving my service to the valley," Cardoza said. "I'll just be doing it from a different venue."

Several hours after news broke of Cardoza's resignation Tuesday afternoon, the Manatt firm announced that he would be joining the company.

He is not a lawyer, although he has worked in local, state and federal government for years.

"His expertise with California issues, as well as his deep experience and insight into both federal and state affairs, makes him a terrific resource," said Jim Bonham, chairman of the firm's federal government affairs and public policy group.

The Manatt firm, some of whose leaders long have been associated with the Democratic Party, is registered to lobby for clients ranging from the city of West Sacramento and Del Monte Foods to the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, among others.

Can't lobby for a year

Under ethics rules, Cardoza will be able to offer strategic and tactical advice immediately but must refrain from formal lobbying for a year. He said he signed recusal documents when he began negotiating with the Manatt firm roughly 10 days ago.
Although Cardoza's wife and three children moved from Merced County to join him in a rural Maryland residence several years ago, he largely has continued to make cross-country treks every week.

Often, this has meant flying to California on Friday and returning on a red-eye flight Sunday night, arriving early Monday.

"It's incredibly difficult to work the hours required, especially coming from a Western state," Cardoza said.

The timing of Cardoza's resignation means there will be no special election to fill his 18th Congressional District seat, which encompasses parts of Stanislaus, Merced and San Joaquin counties.

His office staff will remain, taking care of constituent services but steering clear of political advocacy. Cardoza informed most of his staff members of his resignation plans in an emotional conference call Monday.

His departure leaves House Republicans with a 240-190 majority over Democrats, with five House vacancies. By most political assessments, Republicans are favored to retain control of the House after the November election.

Cardoza had announced in October he would not run for re-election, after the bipartisan California Citizens Redistricting Commission carved the San Joaquin Valley into new House districts. The redistricting essentially left Cardoza the choice of retiring or facing off against longtime friend and ally Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno.

Huffington Post
California Online Gambling: Dennis Cardoza Meets With Racing Lobbyist Over Gaming Laws
California Online Gambling
By Lance Williams
Congress was in session Wednesday, with officials sparring over the federal debt ceiling and President Barack Obama's rejection of the Keystone XL energy pipeline project.

But U.S. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, a Merced Democrat, was nearly 3,000 miles away in Sacramento. With a lobbyist, two racehorse owners and a Hall of Fame jockey, Cardoza met with California lawmakers to discuss Internet poker laws, according to records and interviews.

Cardoza owns 10 racehorses and has won more than $125,000 in racing purses, according to his financial disclosure reports, and he has obtained campaign donations of more than $60,000 from horse racing interests. First elected to Congress in 2002, he is not running for re-election this year.

Cardoza's Sacramento meetings were scheduled "to discuss Internet poker, and other Internet gaming issues," according to an e-mail sent to lawmakers last month by Platinum Advisors, a prominent lobbying firm with offices in Sacramento, Orange County, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

For the meetings, Cardoza targeted lawmakers who serve on the 13-member state Senate Governmental Organization Committee, which holds sway over the contentious issue of whether California will legalize online gaming - and if so, who will profit from it.

At the Capitol, Cardoza was accompanied by Mike Pegram and Bob Baffert, who are prominent racehorse owners and officials of the Thoroughbred Owners of California trade association. Also with Cardoza were jockey Gary Stevens, who rode three Kentucky Derby champions, and Robyn Black of Platinum Advisors, the association's lobbyist.

It was Cardoza's second recent visit to Sacramento: On Jan. 4, a California Watch journalist saw the congressman in the Capitol, also accompanied by lobbyist Black.

In a telephone interview, Cardoza said he is an unpaid member of the board of directors of the thoroughbred owners association. The House of Representatives' Ethics Committee approved his service last year, he said.

He said the Sacramento meetings were aimed at calling attention to the economic problems of the state's $2.8 billion horse racing industry. He was "absolutely not lobbying," Cardoza said.

"I wouldn't consider it being a lobbyist," he said. "It's just visiting friends, and I certainly am unpaid."

When asked whether his work with the association posed a conflict of interest, he said, "I don't have a conflict of interest - I'm a citizen who is talking to my old colleagues."

He declined to identify the lawmakers with whom he met.

Cardoza's role with the trade association raises ethical concerns, said Meredith McGehee, policy director of the Washington-based Campaign Legal Center and an expert on congressional ethics policies. House ethics rules forbid members from receiving "any income that could be funneled from lobbyists."

Serving as an unpaid lobbyist for racing interests could be problematic as well, McGehee said.

"If he is allying himself with a lobbyist for private interests, that raises all sorts of questions," she said. "It looks as though he is using his office for private gain."

Cardoza's "talking with old colleagues" characterization is "ridiculous on its face," she said.

Cardoza, 52, is a former assemblyman who was elected to Congress after U.S. Rep. Gary Condit's career was wrecked in the scandal over the disappearance of intern Chandra Levy. Cardoza announced his retirement last year after his Central Valley district was combined under redistricting with that of U.S. Rep. Jim Costa, a Democrat from Fresno. Cardoza said he has not decided what he will do after leaving office.

In the House, Cardoza became a leader of the Blue Dog Coalition of conservative Democrats. He has championed more irrigation water for Central Valley farmers and has criticized wasteful federal spending.

He has a longstanding interest in racing and gaming. During six years in the state Legislature, Cardoza spent $10,800 in campaign donations on trips to the Kentucky Derby, the Del Mar racetrack near San Diego and Nevada casinos, the Associated Press reported.

In Congress, Cardoza and his political action committee, the Moderate Victory Fund, have obtained more than $54,000 in donations from racing interests, most of it from the National Thoroughbred Racing Association's PAC.

Meanwhile, Cardoza's PAC has spent $47,000 at the Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore on fundraising events, the records show.

Starting in 2009, Cardoza also began buying racehorses. He has bought 13 and sold three, his disclosure reports show. The most successful was a horse called Regrettable Romance. It won purses of more than $50,000 in 2009 and more than $15,000 in 2010, according to Cardoza's disclosure reports.

As a lawmaker, Cardoza occasionally has sponsored measures affecting horse racing. In 2001, in the state Assembly, he carried legislation that exempted racehorse breeders from sales tax - a $2 million-per-year tax break, The Sacramento Bee reported.

In Congress, he was a co-sponsor of a 2009 measure that would have eased tax withholding on winners of big purses at racetracks, records show. The bill wasn't enacted.

Cardoza's Sacramento visit came amid growing state and federal interest in legalizing online gambling in hopes of reaping a multimillion-dollar bonanza in tax revenues. Two bills are pending before Congress - one that would legalize online gaming and have the U.S. Treasury regulate it, and another that would establish state regulation of Internet poker.

In California, two competing online gaming bills were before the state Legislature last year, but neither passed. A new effort to license online gaming is expected this year.

Card parlors, horse racing interests and Native American tribes that operate casinos all have lobbied on the measure. To varying degrees, these industries are wary: They fear that online gaming might draw away their customers, but they also would like to share in its profits if it proves a success.

In the interview, Cardoza said he has carefully followed the House Ethics Committee's guidance in his work on the thoroughbred owners board.

"I cannot discuss federal legislation" pertaining to horse racing, he said. "And I cannot lobby - I shouldn't say lobby, I should say discuss (it) with my federal colleagues, and I have been very careful not to do that."

From the Wilderness   
The Democratic Party's Presidential Drug Money Pipeline
Michael Ruppert

Charles Manatt, Clinton's New Ambassador to the Dominican Republic Demonstrates the Importance of Drug Money to Election 2000 and to Al Gore

Originally Published as the Cover Story in the April 30, 2000 issue of From The Wilderness (Vol. III, No. 2) Posted on the Worldwide Web July 10, 2000

Written by Michael C. Ruppert

...An Honors graduate of UCLA in Political Science (1973), Mike is a former LAPD narcotics investigator who discovered CIA trafficking in drugs in 1977. After attempting to expose this he was forced out of LAPD in 1978 while earning the highest rating reports possible and having no pending disciplinary actions. In 1996, after 18 years of struggle, he finally achieved one of his deepest wishes in a face to face public encounter with then CIA Director John Deutch on national television. Washington sources later told Mike that Deutch's mishandling of the encounter cost him a guaranteed appointment as Secretary of Defense... -- From the Wilderness

As a Managing Director of the Wall Street investment bank Dillon Read, Catherine Austin Fitts raised more than $100,000 in 1988 for the Bush Presidential Campaign. Her boss at Dillon, Nicholas Brady, a close Bush confidant, became Secretary of the Treasury after the Bush victory. Fitts, as a reward, was appointed Assistant Secretary at HUD. Last year, in numerous radio and print interviews, Fitts was quick to make the following revealing observations:

"California, Florida, Texas and New York are, far and away, the states where most illegal drugs enter the United States. California, Florida, Texas and New York are also the states responsible for laundering most of the $200-250 billion dollars of drug money that pass through the U.S. economy and banking system every year...

"Eighty per cent of all Presidential campaign contributions come from California, Florida, Texas and New York."

FTW asks, "With Bushes governing Texas and Florida, is there any wonder why Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party need, so desperately, to control New York?

For the last twenty-five months, FTW has been drawing a map, based upon documentary evidence, that the financial revenues generated by the illegal drug trade are an indispensable part of the global economic structure - status quo. In lectures around the country I have demonstrated how the stream of drug profits permeates Wall Street and how - thanks to tutelage from Fitts, a former FTW Contributing Editor - major Leveraged Buy Outs (LBOs) to finance mega mergers are virtually impossible without the use of laundered drug capital. To sum up Catherine's teaching in one "diamond cutting" sentence, "Those who have the lowest cost of capital win."

In the brilliant out-of-print work "The Iran-Contra Connection," authors Jonathan Marshall, Peter Dale Scott and Jane Hunter document brilliantly how the 1980 Reagan landslide victory was financed, in its earliest stages, with foreign donations engineered in part by John Singlaub and the World Anti-Communist League. Those donations were then funneled through the PR firm of Mike Deaver into campaign coffers. Deaver's right-hand man, Craig Fuller, had been my closest friend through four years at UCLA. Craig Fuller served as Assistant to Ronald Reagan from 1981 to 1985 and as VP George Bush's Chief of Staff from 1985 to 1989. Craig also headed the transition team when Bush became President in 1989, channeling appointments to key fund raisers and supporters.

FTW's map for its readers says, "If you don't play with drug money you can't play at all. The system is Organized Crime. In this article we show you how drug money is playing directly into the Al Gore campaign as a counterbalance to the drug money that we have and will continue to document is flowing into the Bush campaign. Over the last year we began to show you how, by releasing Medellin Cartel co-founder Carlos Lehder from prison, Bill Clinton was establishing a new drug trafficking cartel to run counter to drug money flows established by George Bush between 1986 and 1992. Lehder after his capture received a 99 year prison sentence under Bush. His cartel co-founders Pablo Escobar and Jorge Ochoa were either murdered or forced into hiding. FTW successfully predicted, a year ago, that Clinton would release former Panamanian dictator and Medellin ally Manuel Noriega from prison before he left office. Noriega was ousted by Bush in 1989 when the U.S. invaded Panama. The official announcement of Noriega's release came last month.

The Clinton objective: to create a more cost effective drug pipeline that would have the locus of its smuggling and financial operations in political centers controlled by the Democratic Party in the East and Northeast rather than in Republican strongholds of the South and Southwest. California, one of the two largest drug money prizes, remains too big and diversified for either side to control.

Here is one of the biggest pieces of the Democratic drug money puzzle.

Is Hispaniola Your Final Answer?

Most arbitrary boundaries that exist in the world run east and west and divide specific geographic regions into North and South as in the cases of Korea, Yemen, Ireland and Vietnam of the last century. Few such boundaries run north and south and are drawn to separate a single island into two east and west halves making them separate nations. But this is the case with the island of Hispaniola which is divided into a French speaking western half, called Haiti, and a Spanish speaking eastern half, called the Dominican Republic. Aside from the fact that the two nations have different languages they share a grinding poverty and "backwardness" almost vying for the title of poorest nations in the hemisphere after Bolivia. They also share an un-policed common border, easily crossed and virtually non-existent for smugglers, and a key strategic position in between the drug producing countries of South America - especially Colombia - and the largest single importation center for illegal drugs in the United States, New York City.

The Clinton Administration has put a lot of effort into the tiny island. In its earliest days it used diplomatic and military muscle to intervene in Haitian affairs and the regime of Jean Bertrand Aristide. The dreaded Tonton Macoute paramilitaries were broken up and a more stable and "predictable" regime was installed. While it was generally known in public that Haiti had something to do with smuggling, little was revealed about the overall importance of the island in new smuggling patterns that were emerging in the 1990s.

But it was the Dominican Republic (DR), on the eastern half of Hispaniola, that was to emerge as the stronger brother in drug politics. This was primarily for two reasons: One, The Dominican Republic, on the eastern half of the island was only a short eighty mile boat or plane ride from the U.S. Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. South American drugs, smuggled successfully into Puerto Rico could travel to New York without being interfered with by U.S. Customs - because they were already in the United States. Two, Being extremely well organized and comprising the largest ethnic minority in New York City and throughout New England, the Dominicans possessed (Dominicans are black with Spanish as a native tongue) ready-made and hard to infiltrate drug distribution networks throughout the eastern U.S.

The Public Versus the "Sensitive" Reality

On April 12 of this year, Michael Vigil, Special Agent in Charge of the Caribbean Field Division of the DEA testified before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Justice Drug Policy and Human Resources. In his testimony Vigil labeled Haiti as "The Drug Trafficking Crossroads of the Caribbean." Emphasizing Haiti's role he pointed out that "at just under 430 miles from Colombia's northernmost point [the island of Hispaniola] is easily accessible by twin engine aircraft hauling payloads of 500 to 700 kilos of cocaine." Still emphasizing Haiti, Vigil continued, "Just as is the case with the Dominican Republic, Haiti presents an ideal location for the staging and transhipment of drugs. Furthermore, there is no effective border control between the two countries."

In a quote that has a slightly different spin from confidential FBI and Department of Justice documents obtained by FTW, Vigil continued, "... recent statistics released by The Inter Agency Assessment of Cocaine Management (IACM), indicate that approximately 15% of the cocaine entering the United States transits either Haiti or the Dominican Republic." After pointing out to the panel that once any illicit drug reached Puerto Rico "it is unlikely to be subjected to further United States Customs inspection en route to the continental U.S.," Vigil mentioned - almost parenthetically - "Cocaine is also sometimes transferred overland from Haiti to the Dominican Republic for further transhipment to Puerto Rico, the CONUS [Continental United States], Europe and Canada."

For the remainder of his opening remarks Vigil commented on new computerized intelligence networks and joint, multi-national, law enforcement operations targeting Haiti and other Caribbean operations. The largest of these was the recently well publicized Operation Conquistador that operated in 26 countries, made thousands of arrests and seized a whopping 10,000 pounds of cocaine. The number sounds impressive until one realizes that 10,000 pounds of cocaine, according to DEA's own figures, is well less than 1% of domestic annual U.S. consumption and a far smaller percentage of total consumption for the U.S. and Canada.

Nowhere, in any of the press reports that FTW reviewed, was there any mention of Conquistador's impact upon, or arrest of, drug smugglers from the Dominican Republic.

In a confidential "Law Enforcement Sensitive" June, 1997 report entitled The Dominican Threat: A Strategic Assessment of Dominican Drug Trafficking, Product No. 97-E0209-001 the National Drug Intelligence Center (NDIC) painted a slightly different picture of the drug trade throughout the Caribbean and the overall significance of the Dominican Republic. Department of Justice sources have told FTW, on condition of anonymity, that - if anything - the significance of Dominican Trafficking Organizations (DTOs), has increased since 1997. This, as previously published in the July and August issues if FTW, has been with the assistance and protection of the Clinton Administration and the Clinton controlled CIA.

NDIC is not a creature of the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is more an entity belonging to the Department of Justice and to the FBI which assumed administrative oversight over the DEA in the 1980s. In the governmental food chain two things are clear. The FBI is dominant over DEA and maintains better intelligence. And secondly, the primary seat of Clinton/Gore (Democratic Party) enforcement power is in the Department of Justice and the FBI. As demonstrated by a statement in the report, NDIC Director Richard Callas indicated that the FBI (not DEA) requested that NDIC prepare the 1997 report.

Using maps, flow charts, diagrams and statistical analysis, NDIC stated clearly that DTO's controlled 12 to 33% (or one third) of the approximately 500 metric tons of cocaine entering the United States every year. Emphasizing the criticality of the Dominican Republic's (DR's) proximity to Puerto Rico the NDIC report also stressed the significance of the DTO's control over cocaine distribution within the eastern United States.

"The project team's analysis also indicates that Dominican DTOs distribute a significant percentage of the Colombian cocaine within the U.S. borders. Dominican distribution organizations now control the cocaine market in some U.S. cities, and are extending their networks to cities and states across the country at an alarming rate. New York City - more specifically, the Washington Heights area of Upper West Manhattan - is the distribution hub and center of command for Dominican Drug activity on the U.S. mainland." [Remember Washington Heights].

Later in the same page the report adds, "The Dominican drug threat will continue to expand unless checked by effective law enforcement measures."  Sources told FTW that, indeed, the Dominican dominance has continued to expand and consolidate control in the Caribbean and throughout New York. DTOs have become serious competitors in Florida where drug trafficking has traditionally been dominated by Bush-allied Cubans and they have tightened their grip over distribution throughout New England.  "All this recent hoopla and jumping around over Operation Conquistador is just a bunch of bs," said one DoJ source. "All DEA accomplished - and the line troops had the best of intentions - was that competition was weeded out and all the remaining organizations got lessons in how to avoid getting busted in the future. The DTO's were hardly scratched. They're too sharp."

This would seem to agree with the NDIC report which stated on page 16, "Dominican traffickers are extremely adept at operational security and counter surveillance. Their use of radio transceivers, alarm systems, police scanners, miniature video cameras and other high-tech equipment to detect and monitor law enforcement is common." Later, the report stressed that the Dominicans were most adept at violence and almost impossible to penetrate because of their combined Spanish language and African descent. As documented previously in FTW, a unique cultural identity has proven distinctly advantageous to the Kosovo Liberation Army which controls 70% of the heroin entering Western Europe. Because of their Albanian ethnicity and language, the KLA can tap into ethnic Albanian communities all over Europe for reliable and discreet services. It's easy to tell your own bad guys from the good guys.

On a more ominous note, the NDIC report observed that, DTOs controlled all of the Colombian heroin distribution in their territories and indicated that the only reason that Colombian heroin did not dominate the U.S. market was because (in 1997) Colombia couldn't grow it fast enough. FTW has observed that all recent reports indicate that Colombia has been increasing its opium (heroin) production steadily ever since. This is particularly ominous since NDIC reported that "Sixty-two percent of DEA heroin seizures in 1995 had a Colombian signature." As recently as 1999 the DEA reported the Colombia continued to increase its share of the heroin market.

Cops and The Money Trail
Dominican Drug Lords and Al Gore

In the July and August 1999 issues of FTW we documented the travails first of a dedicated INS Agent, Joe Occhipinti in New York and later, John "Sparky" McLaughlin in Pennsylvania. In the 1980s, Occhipinti, using his initiative, started a task force to attack the rampant money laundering taking place in Dominican dominated mini-markets, known as bodegas, in the Washington Heights section of New York City. Occhipinti's efforts started out wildly successful until he butted heads with financial institutions like Seacrest Ltd., that were later linked to the CIA and powerful political machines dependent upon Dominican "contributions."  Instead of garnering praise and promotions, Occhipinti's highly successful operations led him to incur the wrath of New York's Democratic Party machine and eventually a prison sentence for allegedly violating the civil rights of Dominican drug dealers. Never once was Occhipinti charged with dishonesty or excessive force yet he was sentenced to years in prison. Occhipinti was later pardoned by George Bush.

John McLaughlin, an Agent with the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office, starting in 1995 began developing Dominican informants working with drug rings in Philadelphia. Those informants led directly into the heart of the Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD), a supposedly rabid Marxist revolutionary group. What surprised McLaughlin was that every leader of the PRD in the United States was a major trafficker with a DEA NADDIS number. Thinking he was doing his duty, McGlaughlin notified the CIA and the State Department where his investigations had led him. He was right, but for the wrong reasons.

The CIA came to Philly to meet with "Sparky" McLaughlin and his team more than once. Several CIA memoranda were produced and ultimately shown to those attending. They included a memorandum from the CIA Chief of Station  (CoS) in the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo indicating that the PRD was the chosen and approved party of both Bill Clinton's State Department and his CIA. Not only that, subsequent meetings revealed that as recently as December, 1994, Assistant Secretary of State Alex Watson had traveled to the DR to meet with PRD head Jose Francisco Pena-Gomez, Sparky's number one drug dealer!

Then, in March of 1996, CIA Officer Dave Lawrence, demanded that McLaughlin reveal the name of his informant inside the PRD. This, "Sparky" knew, was a death sentence for sure and he refused. He also refused to compromise his investigation in spite of the fact that it has led to more than five years or relentless persecution, harassment in the media, "freeway therapy" and character assassination. It has also led to a lawsuit in which McLaughlin, represented by former PA Congressman Don Bailey, is fighting back hard to restore the honor and good name of a truly honest team of cops. It was while researching that case for the August issue that FTW came across the NDIC report which had been submitted as an exhibit in Sparky's suit. We were able to obtain a copy before it was sealed by the court and that seems to have angered Bill Clinton's Department of Justice [see below].

McGlaughlin's work resulted in the formation of a Task Force including DEA and various agencies from New York State. Even while the CIA was trying to put the brakes on the investigation, the Dominican task force following the PRD leadership continued doing its job until, as reported in the August issue of FTW :

"On a night in September, 1996, if you had zoomed in on a close up, from God's eye, into Coogan's Pub in Washington Heights, you would have seen PRD leaders Simon A. Diaz, PRD Executive Commission Vice President (NADDIS #3164850 - Money Launderer) and Pablo Espinal, PRD Executive Commission and Zone President (NADDIS #1289859 File # ZL-79-0017 - Money Launderer) hold a fund raiser for Vice President Al Gore who was only too happy to attend in person. Many of those attending that night had been present back in March for Pena's fundraiser. Several of them had convictions for sales of pounds of cocaine, weapons violations and the laundering of millions of dollars in drug money. FTW did not have the resources to check Federal Election Commission records to determine how much money Gore raised but several sources have indicated that it was probably several hundred thousand dollars at least.

OK readers, ask yourself one question: Is it possible that Vice President Al Gore's Secret Service detail did not know that most of the people in Coogan's Pub had NADDIS numbers and many had a history of violence? Is it possible the FBI did not know? Is it possible that DEA wouldn't tell the Secret Service? For the record, it is mandatory for the Secret Service to run background checks on everyone arranging a function with the President or the Vice President or any member of their families. They search just about every database there is."

As demonstrated on April 19, 2000 when Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senatorial campaign returned $22,000 to a businesswoman linked to Cuban drug smuggler Jorge Cabrera, this single documented instance of Al Gore receiving money from drug traffickers is not enough to indict the whole system.  It does not completely establish that national political campaigns can no longer be conducted without drug money. Something more is needed.

The Dynamic Duo

Tony Coelho, Al Gore's Campaign Chairman and Charles Manatt go way back. The Atlantic Monthly in an October 1986 story by Gregg Easterbrook, described the dark days after the 1980 Reagan landslide when the Republicans had all the money and the Democratic Party could seemingly raise none. Two new stars arose to resurrect the party and make it financially competitive again.

"The Democratic camp stood in even worse disorder than usual, with a little known Los Angeles lawyer, Charles Manatt, taking over the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the utterly anonymous Tony Coelho, a thirty-nine year-old California congressman with no organizational experience, assuming leadership of the related Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), which is charged with raising money for democratic congressmen. Twenty-five more seats in 1982 would have given the Republicans the House, and with it, full control over federal decision making. The conventional wisdom held that the Democratic Party would not get out of the Reagan revolution alive."

But get out alive it did. It was not without incurring the wrath of some of the Democratic old guard that Coelho and Manatt resurrected party finances. But, according to the article, "Coelho tripled the take from DCCC fund raising, from $2 million to $6 million, in his first two years." The story continued three paragraphs later, "Another businesslike decision Coelho made early on was to invest a portion of the DCCC's rapidly increasing income. Previously, the money had immediately gone out to finance campaigns or to retire old debts; some of these venerable obligations date to the days of the Humphrey-Nixon race. Coelho set aside about $3.5 million of the first $6 million he raised to finance a media center and a direct-mail operation; at the DNC, Charles Manatt was doing  much the same."

Manatt was a skilled attorney. He was also a banker. In 1965 had founded the Los Angeles law firm of Manatt and Phelps that was eventually to become one of the largest and most powerful Democratic law firms in the country. Manatt would mentor and stay close to leading California Democratic political figures like Maxine Waters, Gray Davis and Tom Bradley. Powerful behind the scenes, Manatt also became a deal maker and big time money man. Surprisingly however, Charles Manatt has also been linked to shady deals that connected to legendary drug smuggler Barry Seal and covert CIA operations of the Contra era.

 Recently, FTW Contributing Editor Daniel Hopsicker finished writing an as yet unpublished biography of CIA pilot/operative and legendary drug smuggler Barry Seal. While co-writing the October 1999 FTW story entitled Why Does George W Bush Fly In Drug Smuggler Barry Seal's Airplane?, Hopsicker discovered that a Beechcraft King Air 200, tail number N6308F, was directly connected to a CIA "front" company through a series of fraudulent financial transactions. That particular airplane had been leased to Barry Seal by real estate mega-developer Eugene Glick. To his surprise, while going through boxes of Seal's personal records, Hopsicker also came across documentary evidence, in Seal's own handwriting, that Glick's attorney at the time (1982) was none other than Charles Manatt. FTW has called the offices of Manatt and Phelps several times and inquired if their records confirm Manatt's representation of Glick. As of press time the firm has not responded.

Could Manatt and Coelho have been solving some of the Democratic Party's financial problems with drug money? Bill Clinton was certainly doing that in Arkansas.

[The full story of the Beechcraft King Air 200, which is now owned by the State of Texas and regularly used by Governor Bush on state business, is covered in Dan Hopsicker's outstanding video In Search of the American Drug Lords which is available at Dan's web site]

Major Democratic Party figures doing business with drug traffickers and intelligence agencies is not as surprising as it might sound. Hopsicker also interviewed Iran-Contra insiders who told him that Democratic powerhouse attorney Richard Ben Veniste had - also in 1982 - incorporated a company named Trinity Oil for Barry Seal as a vehicle to launder Seal's enormous cocaine cash flow. Clearly, by 1982 the Democratic Party had learned from watching the old OSS/CIA veterans who had acquired decades of drug dealing experience in Corsica, France, Vietnam, Laos, Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. They had used the drug trade to finance elections, form political cadres, buy institutions and they had used that experience to elect Ronald Reagan. The Democrats were now back in the game as tons of CIA protected cocaine began to flow through Mena Arkansas and much of the money flowed through Arkansas banks, state agencies and law firms. The key was placing yourself to be in control of the right strategic locations ahead of time. In the 1980s Arkansas, Louisiana and California were the places to be if you were a Democrat.

[As of this writing, Daniel's fabulous book remains - sadly - without a publisher. His research and documentation of the life of Barry Seal are breathtaking and riveting. Contacted for this story, Hopsicker reiterated his belief that Barry Seal was documenting drug connections to both parties as blackmail insurance before his 1986 assassination in Baton Rouge.]

Manatt has other interesting bona fides. According to FDIC records, and his own published biography, Charles Manatt founded and served as Chairman of First Los Angeles Bank in 1973. The bank got into serious trouble in 1989 and was later criticized for mismanagement by the government and the courts before being finally sold in 1995. This was at the same time that Tony Coelho's questionable association with junk bond king and L.A. resident, Michael Milken forced him to resign abruptly from Congress.

Manatt's law firm, including as a partner future Clinton crony Mickey Kantor, also represented BCCI insider and number two man, Swaleh Naqvi. BCCI's well documented connections to drug money laundering and the CIA suggest other possible intelligence connections for Manatt. Internal BCCI documents are said to show that the bank used the Manatt firm to lobby the National Security Council in 1992 in an attempt to close down the investigations of New York DA Robert Morgenthau into BCCI operations.

It is also revealing that Manatt, Phelps and Kantor, (later to become Manatt, Phelps and Phillips) also represented Mochtar Riady's Lippo Group and the Worthen Bank of Arkansas, which was then owned by Jackson Stephens (Jimmy Carter's roommate at Annapolis). Both the Lippo Group and the now defunct Worthen Bank turn up like a carpet weave throughout Bill Clinton's history, the history of Mena Arkansas, Democratic Party fundraising and the story of BCCI. We also noticed that. Conveniently, Charles Manatt also sits on the Board of Federal Express.

A search of CIA-Base ©, a research tool developed by retired CIA agent Ralph McGehee offers another clue. It seems that Charles Manatt also served as a Director of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI). The CIA subsidized NDI, counted among its directors, Manatt, Walter Mondale and Edmund Muskie according to records in the  National Endowment for Democracy. The NDI's ostensible purpose was to help facilitate elections in such CIA areas of operation as Northern Ireland, Taiwan, South Korea, Nicaragua, Panama and Chile.

It is not surprising then that Tony Coelho, who left Congress in 1989 under a storm front of allegations regarding his financial practices, in the middle of his sixth term as a Representative from California, is the Chairman of Al Gore's Presidential Campaign. He is the rainmaker. On him, and the money he can raise, ride the hopes of the emerging dominant faction in American politics. But recently, Tony Coelho has fallen under investigation from the State Department regarding his alleged misuse of government funds while serving as the U.S. Commissioner General at Expo 98 in Portugal.  A very detailed March 23, 2000 article by Bill Hogan in The National Journal, describes Coelho's expensive tastes and questionable business practices. Not only did Coelho rent a lavish beachfront apartment, he used U.S. government staff for his personal business, sought donations of airline tickets from various political cronies and then used his position at the trade Expo to solicit investments for his private ventures including a now defunct Internet Mortgage Loan Brokerage venture called LoanNet.

It is also not surprising then that, "Coelho invited Manatt and [William] Cable and their spouses to Portugal... Coelho's government-paid Portuguese chauffeur, Samuel Silva, picked up the Manatts and the Cables at the Lisbon airport. The two couples stayed gratis for at least part of their trips in Coelho's $18,000-a-month luxury apartment, which had been restocked at his direction with Johnnie Walker whisky, Bacardi rum, vodka, gin, and other bar essentials - all purchased on government accounts...."  According to The National Journal, Manatt and Cable both invested $200,000 apiece in Coelho's soon to fail LoanNet.

Hazardous Duty for the Cause

On December 9, 1999 Charles Manatt presented his credentials to the government of the Dominican Republic and became the fortieth U.S. Ambassador to the DR since 1883. There are a couple of unusual features to Manatt's appointment in a Presidential election year. Former party chairmen, prodigious fund raisers and power brokering attorneys are not appointed to such backward and undesirable postings. Pamela Harriman, arch fundraiser and Presidential groomer asked for - and got - Paris. The DR, with its rampant poverty, on the same island that is credited with helping spread AIDS to North America, with no major resorts, is a backwater. Even Maxine Waters' husband Sidney Williams, as a reward for services to the cause was given the Ambassadorship to the Bahamas where he served from 1993 until 1998. The Bahamas are much nicer than the DR. They speak English there and there are nice casinos and resort hotels like The Atlantis where drug lord Carlos Lehder's beautiful wife/consort, Coral Baca, even has a tower named after her and her photo adorns the publicity brochure.

[It was this same Coral Baca who delivered the federal grand jury transcripts to Pulitzer Prize winner Gary Webb at The San Jose Mercury News in 1995. That contact resulted in The Dark Alliance stories that swept across the nation in 1996 (also a Presidential election year), giving Maxine Waters a national forum to talk about Republican backed cocaine trafficking during the 1980s.]

In fact - according to State Department records -  the previous twelve U.S. Ambassadors to the DR, dating back to 1957, have not been political appointees receiving rewards at all. They have been career foreign service officers, assigned to the post because no "politicals" wanted it. The post remained vacant for almost two years from 1997 until Manatt arrived just in time for the Presidential election campaign.

In the days of Ancient Rome it was customary, whenever there was a critical political or military alliance with a province, for the Emperor to send a member of his family as a Consul or emissary to signify the importance of the relationship with Rome. This also served to demonstrate that no action would be taken against provincial leaders, who could - if necessary - take the emissary hostage knowing his importance to the Empire. The presence of the dignitary also provided status for the provincial leaders as they conducted business both within and around their territories. This is the role of Charles Manatt 2000 years later.

How right is FTW's analysis here? It is right enough that in February of this year the U.S. Attorney's Office in Harrisburg tried to rake the attorney for Pennsylvania narc John McLaughlin over the coals because FTW had acquired their confidential report on Dominican drug traffickers used in this story. Don Bailey, as a former Member of Congress, wasn't going for the intimidation. Knowing that FTW had acquired the document legally he suggested in a terse and eloquent letter that DoJ, "Buzz off." In a conversation with this writer he stated the obvious, "They aren't concerned with drug traffickers getting the information. They are concerned with covering up their own actions."


Throughout their careers Tony Coelho and Charles Manatt have done one thing better than all the rest. They raised money. Now, with Coelho as Chairman of the campaign and Manatt protecting the money flow from the DR - especially just after the Clinton controlled DEA has disrupted all Caribbean competition - the Democrats stand a chance to compete financially with the decades old entrenched drug money behind the Bush family. The politicians know the truth and it is just as simple as Catherine Austin Fitts has stated, "Those with access to capital and those with the lowest cost of capital win. If you don't play with drug money you can't play at all."

And therein lies the certainty that the American political system can do nothing but decline from here on out. Once criminal activity and rule breaking is established and enshrined there is no course left but a steady descent into collapse and chaos. Rome is a good case in point. And perhaps this is a well deserved and a good thing for America. It certainly is if fresh blood and thinking can rise to the top in the middle of the descent.

This has not been a story about how the Democrats are bad and the Republicans are good - although I am sure that I'll be getting more calls from Republican talk show hosts next month. This is a story about how the system has become and IS organized crime. If there are three "branches" of government today they are the banks and financial institutions, the government as enforcer, and the criminal syndicates. There is no rule of law, there is only the rule of money. And I am often amazed at how conservative Christians sometimes ask me to label Democrats, Socialists, Communists, Illuminati, Trilaterals, Jews, Bliderbergers, Masons, or Nazis as the source of evil in this world. I wonder why they don't read their own book. It says it quite clearly there - in the words of their own Master - "For the love of money is the root of all evil."

The events before, during and after publication of this story:

2/14/00 - Mary Catherine Frye, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District  of Pennsylvania directs a letter to Don Bailey, attorney for John McGlaughlin  indicating her awareness that I am in possession of the law enforcement  sensitive NDIC report on the Dominicans and hinting at punitive action (enc.).

4/29/00 - One day before publication of our story the FTW computer is hit  with five, brand new and unidentified "back door" computer viruses that  "tanked" our system for 12 hours and nearly prevented us from  publishing (Norton [Symantec] Case ID # 4010679966 - Contact ID #  312578074).

5/15/00 - The Mexican web site, with permission,  reprints the entire article in English on a site that receives 80,000 visitors a  month.

5/22/00 & 5/29/00 - Thanks to promotion from narconews publisher Al  Giordano, the Mexican weekly (a national glossy) La Crisis translates and  reprints the article in two parts.

5/15 - 6/25/00 - U.S. government agencies leak stories to AP and major  publications spinning my story without addressing it directly. One story even  uses my original phrasing, "Once the drugs are in Puerto Rico it's the same as if they were in Kansas."

6/15/00 - Tony Coelho resigns as Gore Campaign Chair citing health reasons.


-   The Atlantic Monthly, October 1986, "The Business of Politics" by Gregg Easterbrook

-   The Iran Contra Connection, Marshall, Scott and Hunter, South End Press, 1987.

-   The New York Post, April 19, 2000

-   The Drug Enforcement Administration

-   The U.S. Department of State,

-   The U.S. Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation,

-   CIA Base, © Copyright 1992 - Ralph McGehee

-   Barry and The Boys, by Daniel Hopsicker, unpublished, © 2000

-   In Search of the American Drug Lords (video), by Daniel Hopsicker, © 2000

-   The National Journal, March 23, 2000, "POLITICS The Coelho Case" by Bill Hogan

-   From The Wilderness, January, July, August, October, 1999 © Michael C. Ruppert,

-   THE DOMINICAN THREAT, A Strategic Assessment of Dominican Drug Trafficking, Product No. 97-E0209-001, June 1997, The National Drug Intelligence Center, Johnstown, PA. - Law Enforcement Sensitive.