When it comes to “collusion” with the “Russians,” the Democrats talk about it a lot. As it turns out, they participate in it, too!
That’s at least the bizarre takeaway from a case in Florida, where the mayor of the Broward County community of Hallandale Beach is facing charges that she was willing to take bribes in the form of campaign contributions that would come from a “bunch of Russian names” in exchange for shepherding a land project.
According to WPLG-TV, Democrat Mayor Joy Cooper was allegedly ensnared as part of a federal sting called “Red Chip,” in which undercover FBI agents posing as California land developers sought political favors in return for cash.
The Broward County state attorney’s office says that Cooper was introduced to the agents by lobbyist Alan Koslow, who has already pleaded guilty to a federal money-laundering charge in an unrelated case. According to The Washington Post, Koslow was contacted by the agents, who were conducting an investigation into political corruption in South Florida, back in 2012.
Koslow said that he “had the vote of the Mayor in the City of Hallandale and if they supported the Mayor’s ’causes’ she would favorably view their projects,” according to court documents posted by WPLG in Miami.
When she met with the agents with Koslow, Cooper allegedly told them that she and two other commissioners were a “team of three” and would “encourage a favorable result for the development project” if the price was right.
Koslow allegedly showed Cooper a figure for for her cooperation; her response was, “No. Add a zero,” according to The Washington Post.
Hey, at least she’s forthright.
Investigator Kate Abrahamsen says the FBI agents gave Koslow a Dunkin’ Donuts bag full of cash with the understanding that it would be diverted to Cooper and the other commissioners. One of the agents met with Cooper at a diner and informed her that the money would be deposited in her campaign accounts under a “bunch of Russian names.”
“You guys have been great,” Cooper allegedly told the agents during a separate meeting at the diner.
I would agree, but for differing reasons: Cooper now stands charged with money laundering, exceeding limits on campaign contributions and official misconduct, all felonies, and soliciting contributions in a government building, a misdemeanor. All of the felonies carry potential five-year sentences.
She’s also been suspended from her role as mayor by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.
“Joy Cooper is prohibited from performing any official act, duty or function of public office; from receiving any pay or allowance; and from being entitled to any of the emoluments or privileges of public office during the period of this suspension,” Scott wrote in an order issued Friday afternoon.
I suppose it isn’t too surprising that someone who purportedly sold her office for a relative pittance isn’t too concerned who she was selling it to, but it’s probably worth noting we’ve collectively known for at least a few years that Russian oligarchs and/or organized crime figures aren’t necessarily folks you want to be intimately dealing with. I guess Ms. Cooper had a different sort of “reset” button with Russia than Hillary Clinton’s State Department did, though.
While there are corrupt mayors and local politicians of every political stripe, it’s worth here noting that if the mayor of Hallandale Beach is guilty of the crimes she’s committed, she’ll have come from a long and fecund line of local corruption within the Democrat ranks. In fact, Democrat political machines were the first that turned extracting money from their sinecures into an industrialized procedure.
I remember an anecdotal story passed along to me about the longest-serving mayor of Jersey City, New Jersey, where my family hails from. Democrat Frank Hague served for over 30 years; on a salary of $7,500 to $8,000 a year, he was able to afford a 14-room duplex apartment on the city’s most fashionable street, along with homes in Miami Beach and the expensive Jersey Shore community of Deal.
As a fundraiser, Hague’s office would sell tickets to the home opener of the local minor league team, the Jersey City Giants. Even though the stadium fit only 24,000 people, the game would routinely sell in excess of 40,000 tickets. Asked about this slight overbooking, Hague allegedly told reporters some version of this excuse: “Hell of a crowd in the men’s room, boys.”
Frank Hague died long ago, although the Hudson County, New Jersey political machine he helmed lives on. And while federal investigators are more likely to intervene in such covens of extortion than they were in the early 20th century, the industrializers of graft are even larger than ever, and have gone global to boot. If one has any doubt about that assertion, they need only check the financial ledgers of the Clinton Foundation.
So, no — if she’s guilty, Joy Cooper is not the largest cog in the Democrat bribery-industrial complex. In fact, Dunkin’ Donuts bags full of cash are a decided sign of amateurishness that hearkens back to the heady days of Frank Hague. However, much like Bill and Hillary, she did take money from a “bunch of Russian names” she probably oughtn’t have. At least she can claim that similarity.
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