Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Public Eye strikes again!

Truth To Power

Good Day Readers:

Well, TPE has done it to us once more - we need your help! In their article about suspended Winnipeg lawyer David Davis they've used another one of their photographic metaphors. Who is this Shakespearean actor? Better yet, what was the play? Looks like a face you should recognize.
Clare L. Pieuk
29 June 2009
Suspended Manitoba Lawyer David Davis


Case 09-03

Member: David Hirsch Davis

Jurisdiction: Winnipeg, Manitoba

Called to the Bar: June 29, 1989

Particulars of Charges: Professional Misconduct (4 counts):

- Breach of c. 1 and 11 of the Code [failure to act with integrity by charging fees that were not fully disclosed, fair and reasonable]

- Breach of c. 11 of the Code [paying a referral fee to a non-lawyer]

- Breach of c. 6, Rule (c), of the Code [conflict of interest] (x2)

Date of Hearing: March 4, 2009

Date of Sentencing Decision: March 13, 2009


- James W. Hedley, Chair
- Garth H. Smorang, Q.C.
- Vivian E. Rachlis


- David M. Skwark for The Law Society of Manitoba
- David G. Hill for the Member

Plea: Guilty


- Suspended (6 mos., commencing June 1, 2009)
- Costs of $25,000.00
Conflict of Interest/Breach of Integrity


In December 2003 Mr. Davis was retained by FT and his niece LA with respect to LA’s application to immigrate to Canada under the live-in caregiver program. Mr. Davis provided advice to LA with respect to her application, and concurrently offered her a job as a nanny for his children, which offer LA accepted.

Mr. Davis instructed his legal assistant to place an advertisement for a full-time live-in caregiver for his children in the Winnipeg Free Press. He wrote to FT in January 2004 enclosing a Statement of Account for services rendered concerning LA’s live-in caregiver application, which included a disbursement for the personal advertisements published on Mr. Davis’ behalf. Mr. Davis admitted that he failed in his duty to conduct himself with integrity by charging FT disbursements that were not fully disclosed, fair and reasonable, contrary to Chapters 1 and 11 of the Code of Professional Conduct.

In May 2005 Mr. Davis rendered a Statement of Account to FT for services rendered to LA which included disbursements of $250.00 and $200.00 respectively for translation services. In fact, Mr. Davis had not incurred any disbursements for translation services but had instead paid $450.00 to RV, a non-lawyer, as a referral fee for referring FT or LA or both to him. Mr. Davis admitted that he paid a referral fee to a non-lawyer, contrary to Chapter 11 of the Code of Professional Conduct.

LA’s working visa provided that she was only entitled to work for Mr. Davis and cautioned that other work could result in the work permit being rescinded. Between April 26, 2005 and December 30, 2006, Mr. Davis’ wife made arrangements for LA to work for other individuals for whom she was not authorized to work, all with Mr. Davis’ knowledge and consent. During the term of LA’s employment with Mr. Davis, her monthly wages were reduced at Mr. Davis’ direction, she was not paid for over 200 hours of overtime work and she was charged more for room and board than was permitted by the live-in caregiver program guidelines. At all material times, Mr. Davis was both counsel for, and employer of LA. Mr. Davis admitted that he had acted for LA while his interests and those of an associate, namely his wife, were in conflict with those of LA, contrary to Chapter 6, Rule (c) of the Code of Professional Conduct.

In November 2006 Mr. Davis was retained by AP with respect to her application for a live-in caregiver work permit. AP had entered Canada in February 2006 on a visitor’s visa to care for her ill sister who had subsequently died in September 2006. AP’s visitor’s visa was valid until January 7, 2007, and prohibited her from engaging in any employment while in Canada. In November 2006 Mr. Davis suggested to AP that she contact another client RS, with respect to caring for RS’s elderly mother. On November 29, 2006, AP entered into an employment agreement with RS. To Mr. Davis’ knowledge, she did not have a work permit at that time.

After LA terminated her employment with Mr. Davis in December 2006, Mr. Davis approached AP and offered her employment as a live-in caregiver for his family. AP commenced employment with Mr. Davis on January 7, 2007. Between November 2006 and April 2007 Mr. Davis was both AP’s employer and her lawyer concerning immigration related applications.

During the time that AP worked for Davis, he failed to advise her that she did not have a work permit that entitled her to do so. Mr. Davis admitted that while acting for AP, his interests, or those of an associate, namely his wife, were in conflict with those of AP, contrary to Chapter 6, Rule (c) of the Code of Professional Conduct.PleaMr. Davis pled guilty to the charges of professional misconduct outlined above.

Decision and Comments

The Panel found Mr. Davis guilty of professional misconduct based on his admission to the charges.


The panel noted that disbarment was within the range of possible dispositions available given the facts before them, Mr. Davis’ previous disciplinary record and the traditional sentencing principles in a disciplinary matter. The Panel expressed concern about whether Mr. Davis had sufficient insight to ensure that such incidents would not be repeated, however ultimately took into account mitigating circumstances and Mr. Davis’ subsequent conduct. The Panel concluded that in the absence of clear and cogent reasons for departing from the joint recommendation made by counsel for the Law Society and for Mr. Davis, there was no good cause to reject the joint recommendation. The panel therefore ordered that:

(a) Mr. Davis be suspended for a period of 6 months, commencing June 1, 2009; and

(b) Mr. Davis pay $25,000.00 to the Society as a contribution towards the cost of the investigation, prosecution and hearing of the matter.

Posted by The Public Eye at 6/29/2009 1 comments Links to this

For tech-savvy adulterers!

Cheating 2.0: New Mobile Apps Make Adultery Easier
Monday, June 29, 2009

Two-timing politicians, take note: cheating has never been easier. AshleyMadison.com, a personals site designed to facilitate extramarital affairs, now boasts slick iPhone and Blackberry versions that help married horndogs find like-minded cheaters within minutes. The new tools are aimed at tech-savvy adulterers wary of leaving tracks on work or home computers. Because the apps are loaded up from phones' browsers, they leave no electronic trail that suspicious spouses can trace.
Even as public outrage boils up over the infidelity of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford and Nevada Senator John Ensign, millions of Americans are sneaking online to do some surreptitious cheating of their own.
Unlike Craigslist's plain-Jane listings, AshleyMadison lets cheaters customize profiles, chat anonymously and trade messages about adulterous preferences — all in an effort to make cheating as simple as using Match.com.
The formula is working. AshleyMadison's membership has doubled over the past year to 4 million. The Toronto-based site, which takes its name from the two most popular female names in 2001, the year it launched, enjoyed another big boost this week, following Father's Day, when CEO Noel Biderman says men often feel underappreciated. Traffic to the site tripled on Monday. (Biderman says there's a similar boost in interest from neglected wives and girlfriends after Valentine's Day.)
Over the past month alone, 679,000 men and women have used the service to contact a cheating partner. According to their profiles, 92% of males on the site are married or otherwise attached, as are 60% of female members. No word on how many politicians have signed on.
Critics call AshleyMadison a cruel sex site that profits from marital pain. "This is a business built on the back of broken hearts, ruined marriages and damaged families," says Trish McDermott, a dating-industry consultant who helped found Match.com and Engage.com. "It's in the business of rebranding infidelity," she says, "making it not only monetizable, but adding a modicum of normalcy to it. AshleyMadison is making bad choices, broken promises and faithlessness look like something that's trendy and hip and fun to talk about at a cocktail party."
"We're just a platform," responds Biderman. "No website or 30-second ad is going to convince anyone to cheat," he says. "People cheat because their lives aren't working for them." Not everyone buys that line of defense. The Las Vegas Review-Journal recently refused to run an AshleyMadison ad referencing the Ensign scandal. But other racy TV, billboard and radio ads have succeeded in raising the site's profile over the past year to the point where by some measures it's in the top tier of dating sites, with tens of millions of dollars in annual profits.
AshleyMadison charges members $49 for a package of credits they can use to contact up to 20 members. Members don't pay to receive messages, just to initiate contact, so many women end up using the site for free.
Maybe that's why many of the site's new members are female. Biderman says the proportion of women on the site has grown from 15% — when the service quietly launched in 2001 — to nearly 30% today.
Dorothy, a 45-year-old Floridian whose screen name begins with SexyMom, says she's been married for 20 years but started using the site four months ago because her husband constantly turned down sex and refused marriage counseling. "It's like the seven-year itch, but 20 years later," she says. "My husband never throws me a compliment. Now I meet guys who say, 'You're so hot,' or 'You have great eyes.'"
On a recent weekday, 38 men sent messages to Dorothy, who checks these e-mails on her phone during breaks at work. "If I wanted to schedule something for morning, noon and night, I could," she says. She ignores most inquiries, especially those from immature 20-somethings or older men seeking a one-night stand. "I'm looking for a friend, possibly with benefits," she says, "but I'm not out there to shake someone's hand and open my legs."
So far Dorothy has met seven men through the site, she says, including a wealthy, 49-year-old divorced doctor with whom she hit it off. Dorothy says her husband would be livid if he found out, but he doesn't know how to use a computer. "Now I don't have to bug him for intimacy," she says.
AshleyMadison isn't the only site aimed at under-the-radar relationships. Sites like EstablishedMen.com and SeekingArrangement.com all offer variations on the theme. But AshleyMadison is the most successful site openly capitalizing on extramarital affairs.
And for that, Biderman offers no apologies. "Humans aren't meant to be monogamous," he says. So would this free-thinking CEO mind if his own wife used his site? "I would be devastated," he says.

"Oh Dear!"

Monday, June 29, 2009

Fedtime 101 crash course for Shana - only $850!

Photo: Patrick McMullan

Madoff Niece Signed Up for Crash Course in Thug Life
April 13, 2009

Shana Madoff, Bernie Madoff's niece and his firm's compliance officer, "has been asking around what it's like to do time," a source tells the New York Post, which reports that she's even gone so far as to contact a professional white-collar-criminal consultant, Wall Street Prison Consultants founder Larry Levine, for advice.
"A female relative of Bernie Madoff contacted me" about taking his Fedtime 101 crash course, Levine confirms. These people. We can't understand why they would spend what little money they have left on hoity "consultants" when knowledge is all around them. First of all, ex-con Anthony Papa already directly addressed this issue in the Detroit News, where he penned an editorial letting Bernie know what prison would be like. ("Your identity will be taken away when you are stripped naked and ordered to bend over and spread your butt cheeks.").
Plus, hello, everything Shana needs to know can be found in Tupac's seminal prison album Me Against the World, available on iTunes for a mere $12.99. Just remember this, Shana: "No matter how hard it gets, stick your chest out, keep your head up, and handle it."

Wall Street Prison Consultants - "Going From The Exchange Floor To the Prison Yard?"

Faces In The News
There's Something About Larry
Lexi Feinberg, April 16, 2009
After serving 10 years, Larry Levine did what any respectable criminal would do: He became a consultant.

With white-collar crime surging and the SEC on the prowl, business is booming for former federal prisoner Lawrence J. Levine, founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants. He's the go-to guy for corrupt businessmen who engaged in fraudulent behavior and are looking for ways to dodge the fist of the law -- but even he wouldn't speak to Bernie Madoff.

"His people called me; I refused to help him," Levine said. He then added, "I don't help child molesters either."
Levine, 47, said he spent a decade in jail for "narcotics trafficking, securities fraud, racketeering, obstruction of justice and ... machine guns." Since his release in 2007, he's been on supervised probation and trying to make a buck off the soon-to-be-convicted with rates that start at $1,000 per case. He claims he can show you how to survive on the inside, how to reduce your sentence and even how to beat a charge or two.

Lawyers and judges traffic in justice but Levine is more practical about the ins and outs of criminal law.

"It's not who's right or wrong -- it's who's a better liar."

The recent turmoil on Wall Street and the Bernie Madoff case inspired Levine to augment his American Prison Consultants brand with the trendier Wall Street Prison Consultants. He said that he's "tired of seeing people get burned by the system."

He recently received a call from someone who claimed to be associated with the Madoff case. She never identified herself but Levine believes it was Shana Madoff -- the compliance lawyer at
Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities and wife of Eric Swanson, a former top lawyer at the SEC -- and he has speculated about it in the press. Shana Madoff's representative said she never called Levine; Forbes tried but was unable to get comment prior to publication.

While Levine's focus has recently shifted to white-collar crimes, he's made a name for himself by finding loopholes in the law. One way is by taking advantage of prison policies to help prospective prisoners get into the jail drug rehab program and "receive extra time off their sentence even with no evidence of drug or alcohol abuse in their pre-sentencing report." (See "
Time Off For Bad Behavior.")

The Big House!

Prison survival tips for Madoff
Experts don't see a 'camp cupcake' for Madoff as they offer suggestions to keep out of danger.
By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer
June 29, 2009
Bernard Madoff, shown here in his mug shot, won't have the 'cushy' option of a prison camp, consultants said.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Next stop: The Big House.
Medium security prisons are surrounded by two levels of electronic surveillance.

Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff, 71, was sentenced Monday to a 150-year prison sentence. That means he will soon be sent to a real prison with real bars and violent offenders, not a "country club" for white collar crooks, experts say.
Madoff has been held at a Manhattan jail since March 12, when he confessed to 11 felony counts for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme of all time. For decades, Madoff stole billions of dollars from more than a thousand victims, while masquerading as a legitimate businessman through his investment firm.
The length of Madoff's sentence, which is based on the sweeping magnitude of his crimes, gives him an incentive to escape and virtually ensures that he'll be sent to a prison instead of a minimum-security camp, according to prison consultants.
"Madoff, he's not going to a camp, ever," said Larry Levine, founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants and a former inmate of the federal prison system. "His sentence is too long, so he becomes a flight risk. And then it gets into the severity of his crime. If you have more than 10 years, you can't get a camp."
No camp for Madoff
Camps are generally preferred by convicts, because they're deemed as safer, with fewer restrictions, consultants said.
"Prison camps are open facilities," said Alan Ellis, an attorney, prison consultant and author of the "Federal Prison Guidebook." "They are not surrounded by a fence. They generally house first-time offenders, non-violent offenders, people who are not going to be troublemakers."
Larry Levine speaks from first-hand experience. During his 10-year sentence for ties to organized crime, he said he served in 11 federal facilities, including high, medium and low security prisons, and minimum-security prison camps.
He said his favorite facility was Federal Prison Camp Nellis, on an air force base near Las Vegas. That's where Martha Stewart's co-conspirator in insider trading, Peter Bacanovic, served five months. The facility has since closed.
Madoff will most likely serve time in a medium-security prison, consultants believe -- his non-violent history will keep him out of maximum-security, but his sentence is too long to justify low-security.
Madoff's next home
Madoff's lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, would not comment last week on whether he'll request a specific prison for his client. The Federal Bureau of Prisons has the final say in such matters. BOP spokeswoman Felicia Ponce said the bureau tries to place inmates within 500 miles of their families, but she would not comment on where Madoff will be sent.
But Alan Ellis believes Madoff will probably land in one of the closest medium-security prisons to his family in Manhattan, where he lived in a $7 million apartment until his March 12 guilty plea. Since then, he has been incarcerated in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, a temporary federal facility, prior to his prison transfer.
Ellis identified the most likely prisons for Madoff's term as Federal Correctional Institution Otisville, about 70 miles northwest of New York City, and FCI Fairton in nearby New Jersey. He said that Madoff might also be sent to FCI Ray Brook in upstate New York and FCI McKean in northwestern Pennsylvania. All are medium-security.
In a medium-security prison, prisoners are fenced behind a double-layered razor-wire perimeter with electronic detection systems, according to Felicia Ponce of the BOP. Inmates share cells, which are closely monitored after lights-out by patrolling officers, she said. They are subject to cell searches and pat-downs in the near-constant search for weapons and other contraband. They work menial jobs, often in kitchens or laundry rooms, where they are paid 12 to 40 cents an hour.
Madoff's prison survival strategy
"You're going to find a lot of people in medium who have a violent background," said Ellis, noting that the top concerns of his soon-to-be-incarcerated clients are "fear of prison assault" and "fear of the unknown."
Levine said that Madoff might be targeted by other prisoners as "an economic terrorist" and blamed as a general scapegoat for the financial woes of family members on the outside, even if they had nothing do with his Ponzi scheme.
"There will be people who think that Bernie can give them stock tips, but I don't see anyone being his big pal," said Levine." I believe he'll be treated like an outcast."
Levine said that Madoff should always "maintain high visibility" as a security precaution.
"Try to stay in an area where there's a lot of people watching you, where the guards are watching you," Levine said, when asked what his advice would be for Madoff. "Do not become confrontational with anybody. Respect people; be polite. Don't borrow anything from anyone. Don't become beholden to anyone."
If Madoff feels that he's in danger, then he can report the threat to correctional officers and request protective custody, said Ponce. If that happens, he would be separated from the general inmate population and put into a special housing unit while the prison staff investigated his claims, she said.
In this regard, Madoff's fame -- or infamy -- might actually help keep him out of danger, the consultants said.
"If he gets assaulted while he's in there, that's big news, and the BOP hates publicity," said Levine. "If anything comes down on Madoff, it's going to come down on the warden."

U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin!

The man who gave Madoff the max
Denny Chin, who sentenced convicted Ponzi schemer to 150 years, is seen as a judge who can balance decorum with the need for the victims to have their say.

By Nicholas Varchaver, James Bandler, and Doris Burke
June 29, 2009

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- When Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison this morning, the spotlight shifted -- briefly but inevitably -- to Denny Chin, the federal judge who determined the term of the Ponzi scammer's incarceration. Because Madoff eschewed a trial and instead pleaded guilty, on March 12, to 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, theft, and perjury, Chin avoided the attention that would have come if he had been ruling on objections and refereeing courtroom dust-ups day after day.

One suspects that avoiding center stage is just fine with Chin, 55. In his three hearings with Madoff, Chin was self-effacing and low-key. Unlike the vast majority of judges, he does not refer to himself in magisterial terms as "the court," but rather uses a plainspoken "I." In a deeply emotional case, he seemed to be striving to lower the temperature in the courtroom.

Chin was unfailingly courteous, and almost solicitous of Madoff. At one point, during the plea hearing, when Madoff had been standing nervously for an extended period of time and prosecutor Marc Litt launched into a lengthy discussion of the charges, Chin interrupted: "Hold on one second. Mr. Madoff, you can be seated. Pour yourself some water."

At the same time, Chin reined in several Madoff victims. The judge granted them permission to speak at the plea hearing, for example, but made it clear that he would allow them to address only the question of whether Chin should accept the guilty plea. When one of the victims attempted to confront Madoff about his crimes, Chin jumped in and then interrupted a second time when the victim moved off-topic.

"He is not a stickler for anything, except maybe decorum," says one lawyer quoted in the 2009 edition of the Almanac of the Federal Judiciary, which assembles lawyers' opinions. For some judges, the verdicts can be harsh, in large part because the lawyers are cloaked by anonymity.

But Chin scores high marks for legal ability -- "an excellent judge," "a judge's judge," "conscientious," "extremely hard-working," "very bright," according to lawyers in the survey -- and is widely viewed as professional and pleasant.

The attorneys overwhelmingly consider him "fair" in his decisions on prison time, with one adding, "He is a decent human being but he doesn't let that influence his sentencing."

Chin's biography reads like a classic American success story. He was born in Hong Kong, moved to the U.S. at age 2, and was raised by a mother who toiled in a sweatshop and a father who worked twelve-hour days in a restaurant. Chin and his four siblings grew up in New York City's then-seedy Times Square area -- living for a while above an adult movie theater -- and Hell's Kitchen. (Citing the judge's standard policy, a clerk for Chin said the judge would not comment.)

Despite his modest origins, Chin managed to graduate from Princeton and then Fordham law school. His varied legal career included a stint as a federal prosecutor, time at the white shoe firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, and four years working for a prominent plaintiffs firm specializing in employment cases. He was appointed to his judgeship in 1994 -- at the tender age of 39 -- by President Bill Clinton.

Chin has had his share of noteworthy cases. In February, he sentenced Mark Brener, who ran the prostitution business patronized by Eliot Spitzer, to 30 months (the high end of the 24-to-30 months recommended by the sentencing guidelines).

Two years ago, he sent former Coastal Corporation chairman Oscar Wyatt to the federal pen for 12 months and one day -- below the 18-to-24-month suggested range -- for wire-fraud conspiracy. That case involved charges that Wyatt had paid kickbacks to Saddam Hussein to get Iraqi oil, violating the oil-for-food rules in Iraq in the years before the U.S. invasion.

Also in 2007, Chin took the rare step of overturning a jury's conviction of a New York Stock Exchange floor trader for trading ahead of customer orders. He ruled that prosecutors had not proven that the trader's clients had been defrauded.

Of course, 150 years is a life sentence for Madoff, who is now 71. The one thing that isn't up to Chin is where Madoff will serve his time. That decision will be made at a later date by the federal Bureau of Prisons, though Chin does have the right to make a recommendation.

What's more interesting than Madoff's sentencing, perhaps, was the emotional catharsis that his victims sought when they spoke at the hearing Monday. Nine described the devastation wrought by Madoff's fraud.

The emotions are beyond intense. "Madoff is a thief and a monster," wrote Jesse Cohen in one of the victim impact statements published by the court. "Madoff is a psychopathic lying egomaniac...," charged William Jay Cohen in another of the statements. "Ruthless and unscrupulous," "cruel, amoral and a killer," a "devil," are just some of the ways Madoff is described in those messages.

It's a moment that will define Chin as a public figure. In a society where "judging" is often an insult, Chin's role gave him not only a legal, but a moral, authority to stand in the shoes of the average person and express his condemnation of a man widely viewed as one of history's worst villians.

Gold, gold who's got the gold?

Missing mint gold not accounting error - Deloitte and Touche recommends review of security and potential activity by 'internal and/or external parties'
June 29, 2009

A third-party review has found that gold missing from the Royal Canadian Mint, revealed for the first time to be worth $15.3 million, is not the result of an accounting or reconciliation error. The RCMP is investigating. (Christopher Pike For The Toronto Star)

OTTAWA — The Royal Canadian Mint is being urged to examine its security procedures after a third-party review concluded that the disappearance of more than $15 million worth of gold from the Royal Canadian Mint does not appear to be the result of an accounting error.

The review is urging an "in-depth review of systems security and an assessment of potential inappropriate activity by both internal and/or external parties."

Mint officials have already called in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to assist in the investigation and today said they were cooperating "fully" with the police probe.

For months, officials at the mint have been searching for answers to reconcile their records with the actual physical stock of gold.

But the review, released this morning, only fuels further questions about where the"missing" stock of gold has gone though the Mint says it's still not clear whether any gold is actually missing from the property or whether it's just a paper mix-up.

That review, done by Deloitte and Touche, was to determine if the difference in gold was the result of an accounting or transaction recording error.

But in a statement today, the report concluded that "the unaccounted for difference in gold does not appear to relate to an accounting error in the reconciliation process, an accounting error in the physical stock count schedules, or an accounting error in the recordkeeping of transactions during the year."

For the first time, the mint has publicly stated the value of the missing precious metal — $15.3 million — and said today that it intends to file a claim under its insurance policy to recoup the value.

The review also suggested a technical review of operations to identify areas where gold may have been lost through refining process.

And it urges an accounting review of prior records to reconcile the differences though it concedes such a review may be difficult due to "the passage of time, the availability of supporting documentation and the turnover of Mint staff.

In a statement, Bennett emphasized that "the Mint will aggressively continue its efforts both internally and with outside experts to determine the sources of the unreconciled difference."

What's wrong with these people?

To publish or not to publish?

Good Day Folks:

Publication of e-mail involving South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's tryst with an Argentinian woman has re-ignited the debate about how much the public has a right to know about the officials it elects. The article by Mark Lett The State's Executive Editor is instructive it taking readers through the decision making process - what to release and when.

Had he not been caught would the Governor have confessed? Probably not.

Clare L. Pieuk
Lett: Why we published the Sanford e-mails
By MARK E. LETT - Executive Editor

JOURNALISM can be a messy business, and few things are messier than reporting on infidelity.
The travel partners of infidelity are shame, deception, embarrassment, hurt and heartache — ugly, negative, soul-diminishing feelings. There is no joy among responsible journalists in telling stories about infidelity and its seat mate, personal failure.

But journalists are called upon to describe life in full by reporting the good and the bad, the glad and the sad.

The surprisingly messy life of Governor Mark Sanford last week tested the judgment and experience of journalists at The State. Their work helped place in public view the governor’s affair with a woman in Argentina and its impact on his performance in the service of South Carolina.

Readers have applauded The State for digging into the story and revealing how the governor tried to hide the truth in explaining his curious whereabouts.

But they have differed sharply on whether the paper acted appropriately in publishing personal e-mails between the governor and the woman.

Some said publishing the e-mails (provided anonymously to The State some months ago) amounted to an unfair, sensationalistic invasion of privacy.

Other readers said we not only should have published the e-mails, but should have done it sooner.

News stories in The State have explained how we dealt with the e-mails. A story on Page A1 of today’s editions shows how they provoked disclosure from the governor and his advisers.

Inside our newsroom, the e-mails helped reporters sort fact from falsehood and pursue a line of reporting.

Newsrooms receive all sorts of tips. Some are accurate. Most are not. Many come from anonymous sources with hidden or special agendas.

Some are hoaxes.

The Sanford e-mails arrived at The State December 30 as an e-mail from an anonymous source. Efforts to reach that source and the woman in Argentina have been unsuccessful. To staffers covering the governor, allegations of infidelity with a woman in Argentina seemed intriguing, but unlikely. Sanford and his wife had been seen not only as happily married, but also as ideological and strategic partners in his political career.

We had no sources to confirm an affair and no context for making the e-mails public at that time.

We chose not to confront the governor directly on the assumption that he could deny the relationship. In any story, confronting a source too soon can change the environment and make fact-finding more difficult. We also were concerned that word could leak that the e-mails existed, causing our competitors to roil the situation.

Moreover, this newspaper practices what is known as “journalism of verification.” It is our standard to publish what we believe can be supported by facts. That standard could not be met months ago to enable us to publish the e-mails.

With the start of a new legislative season and the ensuing drama around Governor Sanford’s positions on how federal stimulus money could be used, we moved to daily public policy reporting.

When a state senator last week asked why nobody seemed to know where the governor had gone, he kicked over a can that gave the e-mails new purpose. Out of the can came dissembling, misinformation and mistruths from those in and around the governor’s office.

The newsroom’s job was to answer the essential “Four Ws” that go with any news story: Who, What, When and Where. Those facts produced coverage at the beginning of the week.

The Sanford e-mails helped address a fifth “W:” Why.

Why had the governor misled staffers and others about his whereabouts?

The e-mails, and a tip to the newsroom from a traveler who said he had seen the governor on a flight to Argentina the previous week, caused State staffers to check flight schedules between Atlanta and Argentina. On Wednesday morning, a State reporter met a surprised Mark Sanford upon his arrival in Georgia.

The same morning, State editors shared our knowledge of the e-mails with individuals in the governor’s office and inner circle. The result: Within a few short hours, Mr. Sanford stood at a press conference where he revealed his indiscretions.

Newspapers spend countless hours reporting and writing about public figures. The goal is to help citizens better understand those elected to serve in public office. Much of what is written about elected leaders is what they themselves control: their voting records, their speeches, their press releases, the information they share in interviews.

In profiling leaders, reporters also rely upon the comments and observations of those who know the individual and can comment from a valid vantage point. In such instances, reporters must rely upon sources being truthful and complete.

Then, every so often, unanticipated events occur that provide an unfiltered look into the character and behavior of a leader. In the case of one president, it was hours of raw, unflattering tapes of conversation inside the White House. In the case of another president, revelations about a stained dressed helped reveal a secret liaison.

In the case of Mr. Sanford, the e-mails emerged as a way to understand why he acted as he did.
Some of the e-mail content is messy and unpleasant, to be sure. But in the end, we chose to publish the e-mails rather than deny citizens information about a man they twice chose to guide this state.

It was messy but, we believe, appropriate.

Mr. Lett, who oversees The State’s news and editorial departments, can be reached at mlett@thestate.com.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bernie Madoff 15-30?


The claims process divides investors including, from left, Burt Ross, Helen Davis Chaitman, Richard Friedman and Ilene Kent.
Published: June 28, 2009
Helen Davis Chaitman is a victim of Bernard L. Madoffs multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. So is Burt Ross.
Ira Sorkin and other lawyers for Mr. Madoff, to be sentenced Monday, asked for a 12-year term. (Fred R. Conrad/New York Times)
That would seem to make them natural allies in their fight to recover their lost millions.
Instead, as Mr. Madoff prepares to be sentenced in Federal District Court in Manhattan on Monday, they are rivals warring over who should get how much from the government-chartered agency that insures customers of failed brokerage firms.
Some investors are angry that they could get less favorable treatment than others, depending on how they invested with Mr. Madoff — directly, or indirectly through so-called feeder funds — and how much they withdrew before the Ponzi scheme collapsed.
It’s been your typical reality-show kind of fighting,” said Jen Meerow Berniker, 32, a second-generation Madoff customer whose retiree parents lost their life savings through a feeder fund.
“It’s every man for himself right now.”
Indeed, while Monday’s sentencing of Mr. Madoff will satisfy the desire by victims that he be punished for stealing their money, it will take months or even years longer to resolve their claims.
Federal prosecutors are seeking a 150-year sentence, the maximum under federal guidelines.
Ira Lee Sorkin, a lawyer for Mr. Madoff, 71, has argued for a 12-year term.
The central problem being played out among Madoff victims is that only a small fraction of the nearly $65 billion that disappeared has been recovered. While insurance will fill some of that gap, it is clear that many people will not come close to recouping their losses — meaning that whatever one group of investors get will affect how much is available for another group.
Ever mindful that the claims process is, in effect, competitive, some groups of investors are jockeying for favorable treatment from the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, the government-chartered insurance agency.
Ms. Chaitman disapproves of the way Irving H. Picard, the court-appointed trustee overseeing the claims process, is calculating investor losses — on the basis of “net equity,” or simply the difference between the total amount invested in the fund and the total withdrawn before it collapsed.
Ms. Chaitman, who represents more than 100 others in a lawsuit against Mr. Picard, is adamant that they should be reimbursed for the total value of their accounts with Mr. Madoff, even if their withdrawals exceeded their deposits and even though the balances reflected on their statements were based on fake trades.
“Fictitious trades are exactly what SIPC was intended to protect against — a dishonest broker who steals the securities or a broker who never buys the securities,” Ms. Chaitman says, even though she says she never took money out of her Madoff account and therefore has a claim under Mr. Picard’s rules.
Her argument on behalf of those who did withdraw money before Mr. Madoff’s scheme was uncovered in December provokes outrage from Mr. Ross, a former mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey who says his Madoff losses totaled $5 million.
“In terms of morality, it’s not really fair,” he said. “For those of us who never took money out, these people who did are at an advantage, and now they want to get money again.”
For his part, Mr. Picard defended his methodology in an interview last month, saying that valuing cash losses on the basis of the fraudulent transactions would essentially “allow the thief to pick the winners and losers.”
The infighting among some investor groups has been building ahead of the July 2 deadline for filing compensation claims with SIPC.
The tension was palpable at a meeting of more than 150 Madoff victims on June 16 in Port Washington, New York. Richard Friedman, a lawyer and Madoff victim who addressed the audience, joked that because SIPC has talked about “spreading around the pain,” he would be circulating a sign-up sheet for anybody interested in kicking Mr. Picard. The room, filled largely with senior citizens, laughed heartily.
A large majority of the people who invested money with Mr. Madoff did so through an intermediary agent like a feeder fund, making them ineligible for SIPC coverage. Mr. Picard has encouraged victims in this group to file claims nonetheless; their fate will probably be decided by the courts years from now.
Some of these indirect investors say they resent that the big investor groups are fighting over Mr. Picard’s definition of net equity without regard to those who have been excluded entirely from the claims process.
Ms. Berniker, whose retiree parents lost their life savings through a feeder fund, said: “When we first learned that the indirects weren’t covered, I had this feeling of being violated again. It’s sort of a question of, ‘How many times can this happen to me?’ ”
The indirect customers who have been outspoken say they are being treated as members of a lower caste, in that many of them went through feeder funds because they lacked the requisite $1 million or $2 million minimum to go straight to Mr. Madoff.
Initially, those who were invested in the largest feeder funds, like J. Ezra Merkin’s Gabriel Capital and the Fairfield Sentry fund, were thought to be better positioned to recover their losses, in that those firms, unlike Mr. Madoff, would at least have assets to sue for. But several of the feeder funds are themselves being sued by Mr. Picard and are not likely to emerge with their money intact.
What is more, those who invested their individual retirement accounts in Mr. Madoff’s fund through feeder funds have been unable to obtain a theft-loss deduction on their federal taxes. They have had similar difficulties qualifying for an adjustment in their Medicare premium, which is based on income figures they now know to have been falsely inflated.
To date, three complaints against SIPC have been filed by victims disputing Mr. Picard’s methodology.
But SIPC, which is financed by the brokerage industry, has only so much money to immediately hand out to Madoff victims. The agency’s maximum upfront compensation is $500,000 for each eligible customer.
While many will eventually receive reimbursement beyond the $500,000, when that will happen and at what fractional rate depends entirely on lawsuits Mr. Picard has filed seeking more than $10 billion from large investors who withdrew money before Mr. Madoff’s scheme collapsed.
The agency has so far recovered $1.25 billion, including recent settlements with two offshore hedge funds. But that exceeds only slightly the $972 million in loss reimbursements that SIPC had approved as of last week, from just 441 claims.
In all, about 8,800 claims have been filed, and even conservative estimates place the total number of Madoff victims in the tens of thousands.
Those daunting numbers have not stopped some investor groups from arguing for a larger share of Madoff claims. A few have invoked socioeconomic differences.
Sherry Morse, an active member of several Madoff victim groups whose husband’s family was among Mr. Madoff’s earliest investors, said she felt Mr. Picard’s interpretation of net equity amounted to a sort of fake-populist class baiting.
“People who took money out are being penalized for being normal,” she said. “But whether you have $10 or $100 million, it’s not a crime to make money in America. Somehow everybody came to think it’s nothing but rich people who are all getting what they deserved.”
Mr. Ross, the former Fort Lee mayor who did not withdraw money from his Madoff account before the Ponzi scheme was uncovered, said of Ms. Morse and her allies: “If they do get more money out of the trustee, it means he’s going to have to split the pie into pieces that much smaller for all of us.”
Mr. Ross, whose $5 million in losses were divided between a direct account with Madoff and a feeder fund, said he had stopped participating in online discussions about the Madoff scandal “because I need to give myself distance from the self-righteousness and the people who have anger.”
He said that he had received a $500,000 SIPC check, which he used to pay off his house.
“Without the SIPC check, keeping the house would have been more of an issue, so it’s easy for me to say this,” he said. “But I still don’t like that the groups wouldn’t discuss the indirects.”

"This is your Governor!"

How Mark Sanford's affair blew up
Governor's missteps, others' reactions painted him into a corner
Five things brought down South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford.
The first was Sanford himself.
Long a loner, Sanford refuses to issue a public schedule, for example, and then vanishes. He also disdains and evades his security detail. Thus, he thought he could vanish again to Argentina to see his mistress. South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (Erik Campos/ecampos@thestate.com)
Then there was Jake’s revenge.
Last year, Sanford and his wife, Jenny, tried to defeat Lexington state Senator Jake Knotts — an ally of Lieutenant Governor Andre Bauer — and failed. Knotts, who settles old scores, made Sanford’s most recent vanishing act public.
When that happened, Jenny Sanford launched her revenge. Long her husband’s best political strategist, Jenny Sanford could have tamped down the “Where is Mark?” questions.
Instead, she said she didn’t know where her husband was and wasn’t worried about it. She said she was busy: Raising their sons.
The second-term, lame-duck blues also took their toll on Sanford.
After 6½ years in office, Sanford has lost key advisers — including Jenny Sanford and former chief of staff Tom Davis — to other causes. Jenny Sanford largely stepped away from politics, letting her husband hire a political consultant for his second gubernatorial campaign. Davis was elected to the state Senate.
The Sanford staffers who remained or had been elevated weren’t up to the task of either controlling Sanford or covering for him. It’s a typical second-term problem. But staffers’ explanation that Sanford had disappeared to hike the Appalachian Trail was quickly disproved.
Finally, there were the anonymous revenges.
A December 30 e-mail planted the seeds of believability for a Tuesday-night phone caller who said Sanford had flown to Argentina.
Those anonymous tips led The State to have a reporter at the Atlanta airport to interview Sanford. Then, in rapid succession, the paper told Sanford’s aides and a key ally, Davis, that it had e-mails describing an affair between Sanford and a woman in Argentina, and a free-lance journalist knocked on a door in Buenos Aires. A woman at that address initially answered to the name on the e-mails, Maria, then said Maria wasn’t at home.
But the damage was done.
In eight short hours, the combination of the two anonymous tipsters and three actions — Sanford’s arrival at the Atlanta airport, unveiling the e-mails and finding Maria — took Sanford from would-be president to disgraced adulterer.
Sanford has run away from his security detail since the moment he was elected governor in November 2002.
“Look, I’m going to drive my car,” Sanford told SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) agents who waited to drive him to his Sullivan’s Island home as the governor-elect emerged from his 2002 election-night victory celebration in Charleston. “You guys can follow if you want.”
From that moment, security staffers have been chasing behind a maverick chief executive who resists protection.
During his two terms, Sanford, a physical-fitness buff, has jogged alone at night in the neighborhood surrounding the Governor’s Mansion, leaving agents unaware or to follow him in a car, officials familiar with gubernatorial security say.
Sanford also hops into a SLED vehicle to run errands or to drive alone to his State House office, said the sources, who insisted on anonymity.
Sanford’s aversion to security and success in evading it is important because it explains, in part, his ability to disappear and fly to Argentina to see his mistress.
Compared with his predecessors, Sanford’s security detail has about half as many officers.
Sanford’s testy relationship with security officers makes it difficult for police and others to stay in touch as events may require and exposes the governor to dangers, critics said.
Security for S.C. governors has been an informal arrangement for decades.
Nothing in the law required protection for either the governor or lieutenant governor until mid-2007.
That’s when legislative leaders — frustrated by Lt. Gov. Bauer’s two run-ins with traffic police — passed a budget proviso requiring a security detail for Bauer, who is second in the state’s line of chief-executive succession.
During the 2008 legislative session, a proviso was enacted for the governor. But it requires the chief executive to agree to the degree of security.
“Any governor can stand down his protection,” said SLED director Reggie Lloyd, who reports to Sanford. “He can walk away from it. There is no requirement he has to accept it at any given time.”
Neither SLED’s Lloyd, Public Safety director Mark Keel nor the Natural Resources agency —the three agencies that provide officers for Sanford’s security detail — would discuss specifics about security measures.
But Sanford and Bauer have entirely differing views of security.
Bauer pressed for a security detail from the moment he was elected, officials said. Sanford is blunt about his disdain for security officers, they say.
On June 18, Sanford ditched his security detail and drove his state-owned car to Columbia’s airport, where security cameras recorded him walking to a plane.
If it weren’t for Senator Knotts, Republican-Lexington, Sanford might have gotten away with his secret Argentine trip, at least for a while longer.
After he learned the governor had driven away in a state vehicle without his security detail, Knotts alerted the media Monday to the missing governor.
Knotts said he was concerned about the governor’s safety.
But some say the senator and ally of gubernatorial hopeful Bauer, also a Republican, had a political motivation as well.
Last year, Sanford endorsed Republican candidate Katrina Shealy in the GOP (Grand Old Party)primary race for the Senate seat that Knotts has held since 2002. Sanford also appeared in commercials, endorsing Shealy.
“I’m supporting Katrina in this race quite simply because I believe she’s committed to the conservative ideals of lower taxes and limited government that people I talk to in Lexington County believe in very strongly,” Sanford said in his April 2008 endorsement.
“I believe Katrina will be a real leader in terms of working to make South Carolina a better place to do business, work and raise a family, and to that end I’m pleased to endorse her.”
Knotts was upset with the governor’s involvement. He gave an impassioned speech on the Senate floor shortly after his victory over Shealy, criticizing Sanford for actively campaigning against him.
Friday, Knotts held a press conference, calling for Sanford to resign.
Knotts said that call was not based on a personal or political vendetta. Instead, it’s about restoring credibility to the highest office in the state, Knotts said.
“(South Carolina) needs to move on,” Knotts said. “We need to get this behind us.”
After Knotts went public with Sanford’s disappearance, the one person who could have politically saved the wandering governor was his wife.
She didn’t try.
For seven days, South Carolinians didn’t know the whereabouts of Gov. Sanford. But they knew where first lady Jenny Sanford stood, without a doubt.
With her husband missing for four days, Jenny Sanford sent a message through her first public comments, just as Sanford’s whereabouts became a national mystery that led to the uncovering of her husband’s adulterous affair.
“He was writing something and wanted some space to get away from the kids,” the first lady told a reporter Monday at the couple’s Sullivan’s Island beach home, where she was staying with their four sons.
Father’s Day weekend had just come and gone, and Jenny Sanford said the family had not heard from her husband. She went on to tell the reporter she didn’t know where Sanford was and was not concerned.
All across the state, when residents read that remark, their reaction was much the same. If your husband or wife is missing for four days, and you don’t know where they are, but you’re not concerned, it’s probably painful.
By the following day, officials across the state and, increasingly, around the nation were paying attention to Sanford’s absence.
Monday night, the governor’s office said it finally had heard from the missing Sanford. He would return to work Wednesday, his office said.
Jenny Sanford, who has been married to Sanford for 20 years, still hadn’t heard from Sanford, however.
It was revealed later Jenny Sanford had known for five months that her husband was having an affair with a woman in Argentina. She also had asked Sanford for an informal separation — to maintain her dignity, she said — though she said it wasn’t her place to disclose that fact out of respect for Sanford’s public position.
When Sanford had said he might go away over the Father’s Day weekend, Jenny Sanford said, she said that was fine: Just don’t go to Argentina. But the public did not yet know that.
Approached by the media once Sanford’s office said it had heard from the governor, Jenny Sanford again made her position clear.
“I am being a mom today,” the first lady told a CNN reporter. “I have not heard from my husband. I am taking care of my children.”
Chatter within the blogosphere and on the street again interpreted Jenny Sanford’s remarks in a similar fashion: The first lady was being a mom; Sanford was not being a father.
Sanford returned to South Carolina from Argentina six days after he left, confessing to being unfaithful to his wife.
Jenny Sanford, described by many as the governor’s best political adviser, was not with him. Instead, she issued a statement.
“I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage,” one sentence read. She said her husband had earned the chance for a reconciliation.
The day after Sanford’s confession, Jenny Sanford told CNN she would be fine — with or without Sanford.
“I have great faith and great friends and great family,” she said. “We have a good Lord in this world, and I know that I’m going to be fine and not only will I survive, I’ll thrive.”
A day later, Jenny Sanford said she had been hoping that her husband indeed had been hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
That he had dared to go to Argentina to see the other woman left her stunned.
“He was told in no uncertain terms not to see her,” she told the Associated Press in a strong, steady voice. “I was hoping he was on the Appalachian Trail. But I was not worried about his safety. I was hoping he was doing some real soul-searching somewhere and devastated to find out it was Argentina.
“It's tragic.”
Among the many betrayals committed by Gov. Sanford this week, his deception of his staff raised warning flags among reporters that this was no typical post-session wind-down by the governor.
At first, Sanford staffers had no answer as to where the governor was despite a cell-phone tower providing his last-known location as being near Atlanta. Then — nine hours later, late Monday — in an effort to squelch speculation, staffers said Sanford was hiking on the Appalachian Trail.
Sanford’s taste for adventure and need for solitude initially made a hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail seem plausible.
But in explaining his absence, two critical questions were left unanswered: Why would Sanford have been near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport Thursday, as his cell phone had indicated? It is 80 miles from the Appalachian Trail.
And if he were really hiking as his staff said about 10 p.m. Monday, then why would he not be back in the office until Wednesday, 1½ days later? His absence had caused a public stir only he could calm.
The next day, staff and Sanford allies said the governor’s still-mysterious trip was a harmless excursion. Then, late Tuesday night, Sanford’s SUV was discovered at Columbia’s airport, completely unraveling the story.
By Wednesday morning, when The State met Sanford’s Delta flight returning from Argentina, it was clear Sanford’s staff had provided few, if any, facts all week.
Sanford admitted he had not told his staff the truth about his trip.
“The first key moment was the inability of staff to know ... where he was,” said Gary Karr, whose former boss, former Gov. David Beasley, once called a press conference to debunk a rumored affair. “If you don’t know, you just can’t say you know.”
Former Sanford spokesman Will Folks said false statements by staff turned the disappearance into a story.
“I don’t think any of this would have ever blown up” had there not been false statements made, Folks said. But, he added, “You can’t blame people on the staff for being misled.”
Sanford, the loner, always has had trouble trusting friends and colleagues, Folks said, and no one knew enough to grab the governor by the shoulder and ask him to think twice.
Or was strong enough to stand up and do so.
In part that’s because older, more seasoned aides — Jenny Sanford and Davis — have gone on to other things, as is typical in the waning years of a governor’s second term.
Wednesday morning, for instance, Sanford’s fellow Furman University grad Davis — a relative graybeard when it comes to the governor’s youngish staff — raced to Columbia from Beaufort to speak to Sanford before his press conference.
Sanford’s current spokesman, Joel Sawyer, defends the governor’s current staff.
“Every bit of information” issued by the governor’s office during the debacle was “believed to be true at the time,” he said.
“There’s obviously a lot of disappointment on the staff’s part,” Sawyer said Friday. “We believe in the larger ideas of what he’s trying to accomplish, as we always have.”
Sanford’s long, strange absence — and Jenny Sanford’s chilly public statements about the governor’s whereabouts — had suddenly cast in new light copies of five e-mails purportedly between Sanford and a woman in Argentina.
The e-mail exchanges, pasted into a single e-mail, had arrived December 30 at The State in an account for letters to the editor. The subject field read, “This is your governor.”
The e-mails were from the personal e-mail address of Gov. Sanford to a woman in Argentina named Maria. Those e-mails outlined a sexual affair.
The editorial page editor who retrieved the e-mail replied to it, asking who the e-mailer was.
There was no response.
When the e-mails were sent to the newsroom, a reporter and editor there both e-mailed the AOL account in the United Kingdom, asking questions. There was no response.
Then, the reporter e-mailed Maria. Again, there was no response.
Attempts to electronically divine whether the e-mails were genuine also failed to produce results.
With the S.C. Legislature in session and a battle over federal stimulus money escalating, the e-mails went in a drawer.
Then, Knotts announced Sanford was missing.
Staffers initially said Sanford was doing previously postponed work. His wife said he was writing something. Then staffers said Sanford was on the Appalachian Trail, but they did not know where. They added he would be back to work Wednesday.
Inside the newsroom, the trail story was questioned.
Why? In part, the e-mails.
Operating on the chance Sanford was in Argentina, reporters began looking at flight schedules Tuesday. There had been a flight out of Atlanta on June 18, the last day Sanford’s cell phone was tracked. The soonest flight from Argentina would be arriving in Atlanta at 6 a.m. Wednesday.
The question was whether to go to the Atlanta airport? It was answered quickly by an anonymous call to reporter John O’Connor.
The caller put Sanford on an airplane Thursday, June 18. The destination? Argentina.
Reporter Gina Smith grabbed her digital audio recorder and digital camera and headed to Atlanta. If the governor hadn’t already returned from Argentina, he could be arriving back in the United States on Wednesday.
Shortly after 5 a.m. Wednesday, Smith went to the airport. Shortly after 6 a.m., she met a surprised Sanford. Smith was the only media member there.
Sanford said he had just arrived from Argentina. He also said he had not been on the Appalachian Trail.
When asked who he had been with in Argentina, the governor cut off the interview.
By 7:30 a.m., thestate.com had broken the news that Sanford had not been on the Appalachian Trail, but in Argentina.
In their morning meeting, State editors decided to immediately inform the governor and his inner circle about the e-mails.
A reporter called a Sanford staffer, saying the paper had e-mails that outlined an affair between the governor and Maria. Unless Sanford would address the issue privately, The State would have no choice but to ask him — with TV crews filming — if he knew Maria at his press conference that afternoon.
The names of two other women tumbled into the newsroom.
Fearful Sanford’s staffers did not get it — that the paper would ask publicly what Sanford’s relationship was with Maria — a State editor called Davis, Sanford’s former chief of staff.
Davis, a Beaufort lawyer, recently had been elected to the state Senate. When called, he quickly said he no longer worked for Sanford.
The editor said he knew that but wanted to talk with Davis. Sanford had landed from Argentina, and the paper had e-mails about an affair with a woman in Argentina.
The editor told Davis why he thought the e-mails were genuine. They mentioned Coosaw, the Sanford plantation, and Sanford’s love of digging holes; they quoted Bible verses and contained details about Sanford’s known schedule.
And more names of women were coming in over the transom. The total was at three and counting.
“Women?!” Davis responded, sounding incredulous. “Women?!”
The editor repeated that the paper would ask Sanford publicly about Maria with TV cameras running. Jenny Sanford and the couple’s four sons should be spared that image, and it was up to Davis to ensure Sanford’s staffers “got it.”
Davis, who said he was in Beaufort, promised to call Sanford’s staff and call back.
When he called back, Davis said he was driving to Columbia.
Within minutes, a Columbia Web site operated by former Sanford staffer Folks, which regularly promotes Sanford’s agenda and Davis’ political prospects, was reporting The State had e-mails about a Sanford affair.
Meanwhile, an editor in the Washington bureau of McClatchy Newspapers, which owns The State, volunteered to arrange for a freelance journalist in Argentina to go to Maria’s Buenos Aires address, contained in the e-mails.
A woman there initially said she was Maria, but then said Maria was not there when the freelancer said she was a reporter.
Sanford’s press conference was scheduled to start at 2 p.m. It was delayed until 2:30.
Sanford opened the press conference by asking where was The State reporter who had met him at the Atlanta airport. Then, over the next 18 minutes he thought out loud, eventually saying he had been unfaithful to his wife. He apologized to his mistress and, later, his wife.
Subsequently asked to authenticate the e-mails between Sanford’s personal e-mail address and Maria, Sanford’s press spokesman declined. But Sanford would not dispute their authenticity, he said.
Later, Sanford said he had been unfaithful to his wife only once, with his lover in Argentina.
Some questions remain unanswered.
• Where did the e-mails come from?
The State’s staffers suspected Maria or a friend of hers.
Friday night, The New York Times reported that, according to an Argentine source, the e-mails had been sent by a jilted boyfriend of Maria’s.
Her e-mails refer to another boyfriend. But, Maria wrote, she did not love him, only Sanford.
That unnamed boyfriend discovered the Sanford-Maria e-mails and decided to lash out at “your governor,” the Times reported.
When Maria found out her e-mails had been sent to The State, she ended the relationship with the unnamed boyfriend, the Times said.
• How did Maria find out her e-mails had been shared?
By The State e-mailing her, as it tried to authenticate the e-mails?
That’s a possibility.
• Maria knew her e-mail traffic with Sanford had been compromised, according to the Times. But did she tell Sanford?
If so, his trip last week to Argentina was even more reckless.
The most important question may be this: Would Sanford have confessed to the affair Wednesday if a State reporter had not met him when his Argentine flight landed, if the paper had not said it would publicly discuss the e-mails and if a freelancer had not been able to find Maria at the address in her e-mails?
Friday night, Sanford called Smith, The State reporter who had met him at the Atlanta airport.
Earlier Friday, some legislators and GOP powers called on Sanford to resign. He says he won’t.
Others want an investigation of his activities and use of state money. Sanford has said he will pay back a portion of the $8,000 in public money spent for his trip to South America last year, which included a two-day visit to Argentina. His wife remains on Sullivan’s Island.
Sanford thanked Smith for being professional.
Then, he said he was going biking at Fort Jackson. He liked to exercise, he said.

"Little Miss Tan Lines" identified?

Source of Sanford e-mails found?
Argentine man said to have sent copies of messages to S.C. newspaper

New York Times News Service
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — The mystery of who revealed Governor Mark Sanford’s e-mail messages might finally be solved.
A business associate of Sanford’s Argentine mistress said Friday that private messages between the lovers had been sent anonymously to The State newspaper in December by an Argentine man the mistress briefly dated.
The associate, who asked not to be identified, is a Buenos Aires television executive involved in hiring the woman, whom he identified as Maria Belen Chapur, a producer at the television network America from 2001-02.
Maria Belan Chapur
Last December, the executive said, Chapur was dating a young Argentine a few months after her affair with Sanford began. The executive, who has direct knowledge of the situation, said the man happened to see the e-mails between Sanford and Chapur and hacked into her e-mail account to see the rest.
Infuriated, the man sent the messages to The State.
The executive said that when Chapur found out, she immediately ended the relationship with the man, whose identity has not been disclosed.
In one of the published messages, dated July 9, 2008, Chapur wrote Sanford she had seen another man.
“He is a very nice guy, great heart,” she wrote, “but unfortunately I am not in love with him. You are my love. Something hard to believe even for myself as it’s also a kind of impossible love, not only because of distance but situation.”
In publishing the e-mail messages this week, The State said they had been sent anonymously. Asked Friday about the executive’s account of their source, managing editor Steve Brook said he had no comment, adding only, “That’s interesting.”
Joel Sawyer, Sanford’s spokesman, also had no comment.
Chapur did not respond to messages left on her cell phone.
The executive said Chapur monitored international press coverage of Argentina, preparing a summary each evening from the financial and European news media for the network.
“She was a follower of international news,” he said, “an avid reader of foreign news and regularly attended policy seminars.” He said she spoke English and French fluently.
She appeared on the air only once, reporting from New York in 2002 during the one-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. A video of her appearance, now widely circulating on the Internet, first appeared Thursday afternoon on Argentine television.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport, Tie Me Kangaroo Down!"

'Stoned wallabies make crop circles'

Australian wallabies are eating opium poppies and creating crop circles as they hop around "as high as a kite," a government official has said.
Wallabies have been observed acting strangely in poppy fields

Lara Giddings, the attorney general for the island state of Tasmania, said the kangaroo-like marsupials were getting into poppy fields grown for medicine.

She was reporting to a parliamentary hearing on security for poppy crops.

Australia supplies about 50% of the world's legally-grown opium used to make morphine and other painkillers.

"We have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles. Then they crash" ... Lara Giddings, government official

"The one interesting bit that I found recently in one of my briefs on the poppy industry was that we have a problem with wallabies entering poppy fields, getting as high as a kite and going around in circles," Lara Giddings told the hearing.

"Then they crash," she added. "We see crop circles in the poppy industry from wallabies that are high."

Rick Rockliff, a spokesman for poppy producer Tasmanian Alkaloids, said the wallaby incursions were not very common, but other animals had also been spotted in the poppy fields acting unusually.

"There have been many stories about sheep that have eaten some of the poppies after harvesting and they all walk around in circles," he added.

Retired Tasmanian poppy farmer Lyndley Chopping also said he had seen strange behaviour from wallabies in his fields.

"They would just come and eat some poppies and they would go away," he told ABC News.

"They'd come back again and they would do their circle work in the paddock."

Some people believe the mysterious circles that appear in fields in a number of countries are created by aliens. Others put them down to a human hoax.

What are your views on this story? Here are some of your not so serious responses. Of course if you actually HAVE seen a stoned wallaby, please get in touch, using the form below.


I have seen a stoned wallaby but I don't know about them making crop circles. The one I saw was slurring his words and asking me for a dollar as he was trying to get the boat to see his brother in New Zealand - he looked in no mood to be formulating a series of complex agricultural design patterns. I could be wrong - they might have masterminded the twin tower attacks, who really knows? Dijon, Hobart, Tasmania

This has to be the funniest headline of the year so far. Trippy Skippy. Arcadian, Oxford

My cat Monkey, a Tonkinese cat, started to walk in circles mysteriously about two months ago. My suspicion is the radar from the two police cars parked in front of my apartment building has an effect or sonar like sound that humans cannot hear may have an effect. I was struck by this news article and had to respond. Barbara Ann Levy, West Palm Beach, Florida

I resent this report that we are high as a kite and making crop circles! I haven't been stoned since 1971. A few young hoppers eat the wrong plant and you trash our species in the news. What's this world coming to! Wally Baby, Australia Bush

I saw a whole bunch of them dingos going mad in my corn field only last night. I'm not sure if they were high or not but I'm pretty sure they were. One of them had a ghettoblaster and they were listening to some kind of fast electronic music. Lock 'em up and throw away the key, that's what I say! Roger, Melbourne

I was travelling in Tasmania in the summer of last year and witnessed what I believed as dancing wallabies. I was intoxicated at the time and so put it down to the poppies I had consumed earlier that day. However after reading this article that experience made a lot of sense. Alan Rees, Tring

Bumped into a couple o' stoned wallabies coming out the co-op up Lochgelly high street the other night. This seems to be a problem on both sides of the globe. John Smith, Lochgelly, Fife, Scotland

I've lived in Tasmania for many years. Not only do wallabies congregate in poppy fields, but also on the local golf courses. They do this mainly at night and I can only assume they're playing several rounds of golf while avoiding green fees. You only need to be really worried when one of the stoned wallabies gets into a golf buggy. John Larson, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia

I want to know who sold out the wallabies? Who's the narc? My guess is the platypus, he is such an odd duck. Chet Guest, St. Paul, Minnesota USA

Don't know about crop circles but I saw one today trying to jack a car, presumably trying to get enough together for his next fix. Greg Corcoran, Durham, UK

The question should be whether or not those law breaking wallabies should be brought to justice for indulging in illegal substances. The law makes no exceptions for no-one no matter what their excuse is or even what species they may be. They are not setting an example for their joeys nor for any other marsupials and I fear this could become an epidemic of outback size proportions. Phil, Edinburgh