“Money, it’s a crime. Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie,” is one of many classic lines from the classic Pink Floyd song, “Money.” There are others.
Following the money is usually a good place to start when rich people are doing suspicious things. That’s a sentiment that has led to the financial regulation of our elections in America. Those regulations are not some unimportant set of ground rules, they are laws. And they are important.
President Donald Trump is in a whole different universe of trouble this week following the guilty plea of his former attorney, Michael Cohen. The week was accentuated by the bombshell Wall Street Journal report that the Southern District of New York has initiated a criminal investigation involving the president’s inauguration committee.
What started as a highlight reel of banter about illegal payments to a porn star and Playboy Playmate of less than $300,000 shifted to a criminal investigation of the $107 million inaugural fund for suspicion of corruption.
Managing wealth sure seems to be a daunting task anymore.
“Money, it’s a gas. Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash,” Pink Floyd says.
Though I do it less than I once did, I listened to some talking heads on the news channels this week and was troubled by a couple of comments. One supporter of the president said that the pursuit of him on the campaign finance charges involving the payoffs for his extramarital affairs would have the effect of “criminalizing politics.” Really? Payoffs and bribes should be OK in American politics if they can be described as “simple transactions” by those whose pockets would seem bottomless to most Americans?
I just don’t think the citizenry sees it that way.
Another mouthpiece statement downplayed the seriousness of those illegal payments by saying that “under normal circumstances, the violator would only pay a fine for it.” My problem with those “normal circumstances” is that these violations are being committed by the people most able to pay just about any fine. Isn’t that a convenient cost of doing business?
“Money, get back. I’m all right, Jack, keep your hands off of my stack,” is a Pink Floydism that Rudy Giuliani might use in the coming days or weeks. Of course, in and around the White House these days it is hard to tell whose stack is whose.
The money trail in politics is an exhausting one to be on anymore. I wish we would get off it. There is way too much money in our political system and what has evolved from that state of affairs is an excessive amount of wealthy people running for and winning elections. Was there really any doubt in anyone’s mind that Trump was running for president to enrich himself and his family? There wasn’t any doubt in my house.
But the president is not alone. Look at the recent governor’s race in Illinois. Governor-elect J.B. Pritzker, worth $3.1 billion, defeated incumbent Governor Bruce Rauner, who reports being worth a paltry $500 million. Abraham Lincoln wouldn’t have a chance over there now.
I have found that most wealthy people avoid financial losses the way normal people avoid crossing the IRS. Even when candidates “self-finance” their own campaigns, the rich candidate of today doesn’t go broke in exchange for their big chance to serve the public. They always find a way to avoid that sort of sacrifice in their quest for power–on their way to further enrichment.
When the dust settles around the special counsel investigation and Russia, at least a portion of the conclusions will be about money too. I think of all those Trump supporters, who thought he was running so he could restore all of the jobs for the struggling coal industry, or auto manufacturing plants. They believed what his campaign was selling. That group’s unrelenting support of an obvious grifter has grown sad. I see their eventual humiliation coming, even though they don’t.
The swampy money games in Washington have never been worse than they are right now, courtesy of the candidate who vowed to drain it. He has no credibility left, except with the irrational base which refuses to acknowledge facts.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York is not “criminalizing politics” or turning a civil matter into a criminal one. They are defending America against someone who has broken its laws.
“Money, it’s a crime.” Or in the case of President Trump and his team, it’s a long list of crimes on a long and bumpy money trail.