Saturday, October 1, 2011

Carol Moseley Braun: A cautionary tale

From the old days
There are times I wonder what the conservative ideologues have in mind for Barack Obama when it comes to a legacy.

After all, the man had the unmitigated gall (in their mini-minds) to win a term as president. So I’m sure they’re going to do everything they can to spin his life A.P. (that’s “after president”) into some dismal tale of failure.

WHICH MEANS THEY’D probably like to turn him into Carol Moseley Braun, who is back in the news these days because her campaign operation that tried to get her elected mayor didn’t bother to do the final paperwork to close itself out.

Although she lost badly on Feb. 22, her campaign was required to file papers with the Illinois State Board of Elections in mid-April. She did, admitting to raising $323,000 and spending $315,000.

There were no breakdowns of her expenditures, as required by law. Although she was permitted to file those documents (of any expenditures over $150) during the summer months.

We’re now into autumn, and we’re still waiting. Her campaign hasn’t filed, although Moseley Braun is telling certain reporter-type people that the problem is the fault of her former campaign treasurer (and long-time supporter) Billie Paige.

THE FORMER U.S. senator from Illinois used the words “elderly” and “overwhelmed” to describe Paige, although there are those who say the 75-year-old Paige is anything but when it comes to her physical and mental condition.

I haven’t seen Paige in years, so I can’t say first-hand what shape she’s in. But considering that Paige quit her post after filing the disclosure in mid-April, I’d say the Moseley Braun people had quite a bit of time to figure out that they needed to get someone in to finish up the paperwork.

For those who want to say that it’s just paperwork and shouldn’t matter, I’d argue that it’s these kinds of nit-picking details that have all the potential in the world to blow up into a major catastrophe.

Then again, such inattention to detail seems to be part of the Moseley Braun makeup. I recall her ’92 campaign for U.S. Senate when it became public knowledge that there were questions about the way she handled her mother’s finances, particularly some rural property she owned, at a time when her mother was getting into Medicaid.

SUCH FINANCIAL HELP with medical expenses is for the indigent and the federal government really does like a person to show they have no assets whatsoever before they start picking up the bills for medications and doctor visits.

I recall Moseley Braun sounding astounded that anyone would think her mother would have to sell off assets before being able to qualify. So I have no problem believing that she’s probably equally astounded today at the idea that she should have to file more documentation of a campaign that has been over and done with for seven months – and never went anywhere of significance while it existed.

I did get my chuckle from the Chicago Tribune, which on Friday used its website to do a cheap, quickie rewrite of the reporting on this issue done by Carol Marin for WMAQ-TV and the Chicago Sun-Times.

They threw in a line saying that failure to fully disclose details related to campaign finance can result in fines, and even a potential ban on being able to run for government office in the future.

MY UNDERSTANDING IS that Moseley-Braun’s “income” in recent years has been minimal, largely from some attempts to create her own business that haven’t really gone anywhere. When was the last time you saw any products manufactured by “Ambassador Organics?”

This was a woman who was running for mayor of Chicago because she needed a regular paycheck.

I can’t envision that they’d get much of anything from her in the way of fines. Perhaps they’d ensure that she will spend the rest of her life in debt. But there reaches a point when we have to ask, “What’s the Point?”

And as for the idea of a ban on being able to run for office, I’d argue that was already given to her when she came in dead last among the “so-called” major candidates for mayor, and where even the fringe candidates such as Patricia Van Pelt-Watkins showed more class while campaigning.

SHE’S NOT ABOUT to get elected to anything. And she probably can’t get the finances to run even a long-shot campaign for the most-minor of political posts.

It has been 19 years since the night she managed to beat her various Democratic primary opponents, then go on to actually win that seat in the U.S. Senate – where she will forevermore have that historic designation as the “first black woman” to serve in that legislative chamber.

But there are too many ideologues who were offended by her presence back then, and who are now all too gleeful as to her current circumstances. Whether you believe she brought much of this on herself or not, she ought to be a cautionary tale for many politicians – not just Obama – as to how NOT to behave.

Although I remain convinced there are those who will go out of their way in future years to try to make his A.P. life nothing more than a Moseley Braun sequel.


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