No one puts Mittens in the corner

The Mittster rolls the dice, because businessmen rule! Once you make gobs of money, you have access to all the hidden knowledge of the universe and no one tells you what to do:

Mitt Romney appears to have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate over the objections of top political advisors, offering a glimpse at the leadership style of the Republican nominee in the most important decision of his campaign.

Romney’s aides have stressed publicly in the 24 hours since Romney electrified conservatives with his choice that the pick was the governor’s alone. They have been less forthcoming on the flip side: That much of his staff opposed the choice for the same reason that many pundits considered it unlikely — that Ryan’s appealingly wonky public image and a personality Romney finds copasetic will matter far less than two different budget plans whose details the campaign now effectively owns.

“Everybody was against [Ryan] to start with only Romney for,” said one top Republican, who is skeptical of the choice and griped that Romney’s top advisors have “been giving Mitt everything he wanted in this campaign.”

Good clean fun

The media feeding frenzy begins, and of course it’s always nice when a Republican is the target for a change:

Let’s put this in the “the real scandal is what’s legal” file:

Ryan attended a closed meeting with congressional leaders, Bush’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke on September 18, 2008. The purpose of the meeting was to disclose the coming economic meltdown and beg Congress to pass legislation to help collapsing banks. Instead of doing anything to help, Ryan left the meeting and on that very same day Paul Ryan sold shares of stock he owned in several troubled banks and reinvested the proceeds in Goldman Sachs, a bank that the meeting had disclosed was not in trouble.

This kind of trading might be illegal now but was definitely kosher back then when insider trading rules didn’t apply to Congress at all. My guess is that it’s probably fine even under today’s rules, since even though it fits the ordinary language meaning of “insider information,” it doesn’t actually make Ryan an insider to the companies in question in a legal sense. But it’s about as clear an example of a public official trying to use his office to obtain personal benefits as you’re likely to find.

Paul Ryan is not a crook

Uh huh. So even though Paul Ryan was against a casino project, a large contribution made him amenable enough to the deal that he called the Department of Indian Affairs and told them his constituents were in favor. And when the man who made the contribution was indicted, Ryan quickly announced he would donate the money to the local boys and girls club.

And then it turns out that Congress had two years earlier passed a measure that allowed a trucking firm, JHT, to haul more trucks on each route. The trucking company was owned by Dennis Troha, that same contributor. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel obtained bank records showing that JHT had paid a consulting firm owned by Troha $107,238 and that such fees would continue until 2010 because Congress had passed the legislation.

But don’t worry, everything’s fine and it’s nothing that should concern you. Young Paul Ryan is as pure as the driven snow:

Democrats have wasted little time blasting Republican vice presidential pick Paul Ryan over his federal budget plan, but a more obscure part of his record could also draw attention: his relationship with a convicted Wisconsin businessman.

Ryan accepted nearly $60,000 in contributions from businessman Dennis Troha and his family, records show. Troha was later indicted on campaign finance charges over an Indian casino he sought to open. During the casino application process, Troha said, the Republican congressman called federal regulators at his request.

Ryan (Wis.) also supported a bill in Congress that benefited Troha and his trucking company, legislation that drew the interest of federal prosecutors because of the contributions Ryan and other congressmen had accepted from Troha and his family.

Ryan was not found to have violated any laws, nor was he a target or key figure in the federal investigation, people familiar with the inquiry said. He was among more than 20 politicians of both parties who benefited from Troha’s largess. Troha was convicted of funneling illegal donations to other politicians, not Ryan, and Ryan donated Troha’s contributions to youth programs when the businessman was indicted.

When a Troha associate pleaded guilty in the campaign finance scheme, the only political figure specifically named in court documents for receiving contributions from the associate was Ryan.

The Romney campaign looked into the Troha matter “and concluded it was a complete non-issue,” a campaign official said on the condition of anonymity because he was not an authorized spokesman.

[…] Between 1999 and 2005, Troha and his family members contributed $58,102 to Ryan’s campaigns, according to campaign finance records. At the time, Troha was seeking support for his proposal to open an $808 million Indian casino in Ryan’s district.

Although state officials had final approval, Ryan agreed to call the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, which was reviewing environmental impact studies. “He stated that his constituents are in favor of the application,” according to an e-mail written by a bureau staffer and obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which wrote extensively about the Ryan-Troha relationship.

In a 2006 interview with the newspaper, Ryan described the call as a routine inquiry on behalf of a constituent and said he was “neutral” on the casino project. But Troha said Ryan “made it very clear to me” that he opposed the project and felt it was “not appropriate” for the district. “I just asked him to make contact to see where things stood,” he said.

Now, here it gets kind of interesting, at least to me:

The then-U.S. attorney in Milwaukee, Steven Biskupic, issued a statement at the time saying federal investigators were looking into the legislation, along with donations from Troha and his family to Ryan and two other congressmen. Biskupic declined to comment Saturday.

No charges were brought against Ryan. Now, Steven Biskupic, a Bush appointee who coincidentally prosecuted voter fraud cases after he was informed Karl Rove was unhappy with his lack of same, has since left and gone to work for the Michael Best & Friedrich law firm – which is the politically-connected firm of choice for Wisconsin Republicans’ dirty work. In fact, old Steverino is the criminal defense attorney retained by Gov. Scott Walker in the John Doe investigation!

And the Justice Department did finally clear Biskupic of ethical violations in the prosecution of Georgia Thompson, a state employee he charged with rigging contracts for then-governor Jim Doyle. (A federal appeals court overturned the conviction for lack of evidence.) So it turns out he’s just kind of sleazy and incompetent, BUT NOT A CROOK.

And that means if Steve Biskupic says Paul Ryan did nothing wrong, we should believe him.

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