Word is that President Obama will appoint former Washington Governor Gary Locke to be Commerce Secretary, Obama’s third attempt to find someone for the job, after the failures of the Bill Richardson and Judd Gregg nominations.
The indefatigable Michelle Malkin used to work as a reporter for the Seattle Times, and she investigated rumors of illegal foreign contributions to Locke’s gubernatorial campaigns.
It’s illegal to funnel campaign contributions through straw donors. It’s illegal for tax-exempt churches to hold campaign fund-raisers. It’s illegal to accept money from foreign citizens who are not permanent residents of this country. It’s illegal to file false public disclosure forms (four years after the temple fundraisers, PDC records were not amended with the Buddhist monks’ correct addresses and occupations). It’s illegal to commit perjury to cover up a political money-laundering scheme.
In a trade-dependent state such as Washington state, the incentive to engage in quid pro quos is high. At Commerce, it’s even higher. Locke’s campaign finance scandal-tainted past raise serious issues about his judgment. His cozy relations with the Chinese government and favor-currying add even more doubt.
Locke’s possible corrupt donations are reminiscent of the illegal donations then Vice-President Al Gore received at a Buddhist-temple event during the 1996 campaign: the suspicion in both cases is that the money was laundered for those with connections that trace back to the Chinese government. The allegations are vigorously denied, but suspicious activity surrounds both incidents.
One has to wonder about the Obama Administration, however. It’s first nominee for Commerce, Bill Richardson, withdrew after it came out that he was under investigation for a pay-to-play scandal. Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle had to withdraw when it came out he failed to pay his taxes. While Treasury Secretary Geithner was confirmed, he, too, is a tax cheat. And now Gary Locke has his own dirty laundry about to be aired.
Is it that they’re incompetent at finding suitable nominees, do they just not care about ethics all, or is corruption a qualification for office in Obama administration?
UPDATE: More juicy stuff from Ed Morrissey, involving Locke’s brother-in-law.