Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.com.
Start your day with National Memo Newsletter
The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning
The guilty plea entered by a former Florida shock jock in connection with yet another bizarre criminal case may indicate that federal investigators are closing in on Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.).
According to The Daily Beast, Joseph “Big Joe” Ellicott, one of Gaetz's associates believed to have key information about his alleged sex trafficking case, entered his plea this week in federal court.
On Jan. 18, according to court documents, Ellicott signed the plea agreement in connection with two different crimes. He was reportedly accused of committing fraud when he agreed "to 'pay bribes and kickbacks' to a public official and a separate drug crime: illegally selling the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder prescription medicine Adderall."
According to prosecutors, Ellicott was the intermediary in the kickback arrangement, carrying a $6,000 cash bribe from an unnamed tax office contractor to a Public Official—Greenberg. In exchange for the bribe, Greenberg and the contractor worked out a deal where the contractor inflated invoices for work with the tax office, pocketing the difference.
The former jock is also said to have sold more than $5,000 in Adderall to one client, in particular, over a two-year period.
Speaking to The Beast, Joe Zwick, Ellicott's attorney, also indicated that his client has been cooperative with federal investigators as they continue the probe into the sex trafficking case against the Republican lawmaker.
“This investigation had nothing to do with the sex scandal, but with the unprecedented things Greenberg was doing with the tax office. The big difference is that Joel Greenberg was elected to serve the people, and Joe was not. And the fact that this was done by criminal information not an indictment is pretty telling of how the prosecutors view him in this case,” Zwick said as he noted that Ellicott had not been arrested. “Obviously they value his continued cooperation, as he does as well. We are going to set off sentencing as long as we can, and do everything we can to reduce his time.”
Ellicott is reportedly a longtime friend of Joel Greenberg, a former tax collector in Seminole County, Fla., who has been described as Gaetz's "wingman in the underage sex operation," per inside sources with knowledge of their acquaintance.
The embattled former shock jock's plea follows The Daily Beast's previous report which "revealed that Ellicott knew intimate details about the teenage girl who was paid for sex by the group—and actually texted what essentially amounted to a confession that they were scrambling to try and coverup details about their sex with a 17-year-old from the feds."
Per the latest report published by The Beast, Ellicott's professional involvement with Greenberg appears to have been impacted the case investigators built against him. Greenberg, who is facing multiple charges including "trafficking a minor, stalking a political opponent, producing fake IDs, identity theft, embezzlement, and bribery," is said to have also had a habit of employing friends for "no-show jobs" at his tax agency.
Reprinted with permission from Alternet
In an interview with CNN, GOP Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell managed to impart one truism amid the web of fantasy he spun.
"I still say it's 50-50," McConnell said, handicapping the GOP's chances of retaking the Senate in November.
That seems close, if not a tad optimistic given the GOP’s emerging class of candidates. But other than that, McConnell said everything was going perfectly according to plan for Senate Republicans in 2022.
Donald Trump endorsing an alleged wife-beater for an open Pennsylvania Senate seat who was then forced to bow out after losing custody of his children? Perfect.
McConnell being forced to bow to Trump's wishes on endorsing alleged wife-beater and violence-prone former football star Herschel Walker? Just swell.
Trump sparring with McConnell-aligned Senate Republicans over whether he actually lost the 2020 election? No worries.
McConnell just wanted to make one minor tweak to Trump's Big Lie—which is now the central organizing feature of Trump’s entire life.
"It's important for candidates to remember we need to respect the results of our democratic process unless the court system demonstrates that some significant fraud occurred that would change the outcome," McConnell said.
Righto. All those GOP candidates running around courting Trump's endorsement by spewing election fraud lies should keep that small reframe in mind.
Asked if he was worried that the united GOP front against passing federal voting protections might hinder Republicans' appeal to Black voters, McConnell scoffed.
"I think I can pretty confidently say, we won't lose any elections over that issue, anywhere in the country," McConnell said. "I mean, the thought that a single Senate race in America would be decided over that issue strikes me as being wildly out of touch with what the American people are interested in."
Demonstrating once again that McConnell doesn't exactly consider Black Americans to be Americans.
Because there was that historic election a year ago when Georgians voted the state's first-ever Black senator, Rev. Raphael Warnock, into office. Seems like Black voters in Georgia, among others, might be interested in the voting rights issue. That's "a single Senate race in America" who could prove consequential, is it not?
Basically, the entire interview was a lesson in the fact that no one should take McConnell's proclamations about the upcoming elections and the state of the GOP too seriously. He's shoveling just as much crap as Trump.
Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos