Watchdog.org’s “Scariest People of 2013″ Countdown, Nos. 8-5
By Dustin Hurst
December 27, 2013
By Watchdog Staff
Ready for the weekend after the holiday? We are, too.
Keeping an eye on all these bad actors takes a lot of time and effort. Thankfully, we love what we do. We live for the chance to find that breaking story and pass it along. We also relish finding the bad dudes and letting you know about them so you can make wise choices at the ballot boxes.
Here’s the latest round of bad dudes from Watchdog.org’s Scariest People of 2013:
The 2012 New York Observer headline said it all: “Zygi Wilf Becomes Most-Hated Man in Minnesota After Buying Park Avenue Penthouse.” The principal owner of the Minnesota Vikings football team, Wilf provoked outrage when it emerged that he’d purchased a $19 million Manhattan penthouse – even as his lobbyists gave Minnesota legislators the hard-sell for a half-billion-dollar subsidy on a new $975 million stadium. The lobbying effort and the backlash produced a wonderful Twitterhash tag: #Wilfare. The warfare over Wilfare came before a New Jersey court ruled in August that Wilf, his brother and cousin committed fraud, breach of contract and violated state civil racketeering laws in a 21-year-old civil court dispute. “The bad faith and evil motive were demonstrated in the testimony of Zygi Wilf himself,” said Judge Deanne Wilson in assessing the Wilfs $84.5 million in damages – a major penalty even by National Football League standards. When the team crossed the legislative goal line, taxpayers were on the hook for $500 million, while the team’s portion was $475 million. Or was it? An instant replay showed $100 million might come from the Wilfs’ pockets with the NFL kicking in a $200 million loan and grant, $100 million from fans paying up to $10,000 for seat licenses and $135 million from stadium naming rights. A recent hurry-up state audit of the team’s books cleared the way for Wilf and Gov. Mark Dayton to break ground on the new stadium, digging a deeper hole for Minnesota taxpayers. MITIGATING FACTOR: Despite fielding a team one columnist called “a clown car rolling downhill with burning tires,” Wilf promises a Super Bowl for Minnesota – not with a rebuilt team but in his newly built stadium. (Tom Steward)
7. WISCONSIN: Lisa Graves
If hypocrisy were currency, uber-liberal Lisa Graves would have more cash on hand than George Soros. Graves, executive director of the left-bent (some would just say “bent”) Center for Media and Democracy, is the mouthpiece of a national progressive campaign to punish conservative and free-market organizations that do not declare their donors. But in criticizing free-market advocates for these so-called “dark money” contributions, Graves fails to practice what she overbearingly preaches. According to a Watchdog investigation, her Madison-based group received $520,000 in 2011 and 2012 from the Schwab Charitable Fund, a so-called donor-advised fund. Schwab is a financial institution that manages contributions to nonprofits so donors may remain – wait for it – anonymous. That bit of information surfaced after CMD attacked Wisconsin conservatives targeted in a secret investigation led by a Democrat-driven district attorney’s office that, many say, has made prosecution a partisan sport. MITIGATING FACTOR: Graves will tell you that dark-money contributions to her group are perfectly OK – because the left is morally superior. “The question of conservative funders versus liberal funders, I think, is a matter of false equivalency,” Graves said at a recent news conference coordinated by several liberal groups. “Quite frankly a number of these (corporate donors to free-market groups) like Koch Industries … they’re advancing not just an ideological agenda but an agenda that helps advance the bottom line of their corporate interests. That’s quite a distinct difference from some of the funders in the progressive universe.” (Matt Kittle)
6. VIRGINIA: Tony Rodham
Before 2013, Tony Rodham was best known as Hillary Clinton’s youngest brother – the one who generated one gaffe after another. In one instance, he took cash from families of felons to push pardons during the Bill Clinton administration. In another, he prompted an assault on the Rodham family compound when he was caught having sex with another man’s girlfriend. We could go on, but it’s unlikely there’s anything to match what was next: trying to get a visa for an officer of a Chinese company the U.S. has called a spy network. In 2010, Rodham surfaced as president and CEO of Gulf Coast Funds Management, a company founded solely to promote the cash-for-visas EB-5 proponent of fledgling GreenTech Automotive Co. Logging a gazillion frequent flyer miles between the Deep South and Asia, Rodham and pals company founder Terry (now Virginia governor-elect) McAuliffe and CEO Charles Wang courted wealthy investors for an electric-car venture. All this blew up when U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, publicly slammed him for attempting to bypass a security check and going straight to the directors of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to approve the application of Huawei Technologies’ vice president. The USCIS Threat Assessment Branch sounded the alarm that Huawei was the same company decried a year earlier as a spy network during extensive hearings by the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. MITIGATING FACTOR: At least Rodham can be counted on to bring along brother-in-law Bill to parties and groundbreakings, like those at GreenTech in the summer of 2012. (Tori Richards)
5. TEXAS: “Trey Martinez” Fischer
Ferdinand Frank Fischer III would be a great name for a Mexican monarchist trying to reclaim the crown of Emperor Maximilian, but it’s a lousy name for an ambitious American politician from a Latino district of San Antonio. That’s why Fischer ditched it years ago, trying on a couple of monikers before building a name for himself as Trey Martinez Fischer, Politician on the Rise. Before he ran for office, he was just Tracy Fischer. Fischer is every bit as phony as his name. He has cozied up to House Speaker Joe Straus, a Republican snake in the grass who maintains his position with the support of the whole Democratic caucus and a handful of Republican “moderates.” Those so-called moderates have been rewarded with committee chairmanships, which some are using for their personal benefit. When Wallace Hall, a regent at the University of Texas, began asking questions about those chairmen getting special admissions favors, Straus rose to counterattack, approving an impeachment investigation of Hall. In that investigation, Fischer has proven a useful ally, lying at every opportunity. Never mind his name, Fischer has lied about Texas law, state history, and especially evidence he’s seen. Whatever he was elected to do, however he represents himself, Fischer is in deep now with the powers that be, and he’s more than willing to do their dirty work. MITIGATING FACTOR: When Watchdog.org reported his real name, and the stunning fact that a politician had served seven terms under an alias, Fischer defended himself by saying that not only is Martinez the maiden name of his mother, it apparently belonged to his paternal grandmother, as well. Having three out of four grandparents called Martinez isn’t quite the same as having the name oneself, but you could say it makes him Trey Quarters Martinez. (Jon Cassidy)
Reposted with permission by Reagangirl.com, December 28, 2013.