Monday, October 30, 2006

Those Republican values

Awhile back, the Poor Man [link now working] established one of the operative physical laws of the right-wing Bizarro Universe, to wit:
"[E]ven the tiniest example of wingnuttery is a near-perfect replica of the whole edifice, substantively consonant in every particular but scale."

We've been seeing an example of this playing out in Oregon, where Loaded Orygun reports that the state's Republican House Speaker Karen Minnis and her husband, John, may have covered up the investigation into a case of child sex abuse by John Minnis' brother.

Shades of the Mark Foley scandal:
According to information uncovered in an investigation by FuturePAC, John and Karen Minnis paid off a 17 year old girl who worked in their Hillsboro restaurant after John's brother Tuck consistently sexually harassed and abused her in the workplace. Worse, this payoff to settle her civil claim stemmed from an incident in Tuck's apartment where he engaged in unwanted touching of her in a sexual away.

According to a legal analysis of the case facts by attorney Marc Blackman, the Minnis[es] were legally obligated to report Tuck's behavior, and failed to do so:

As to the criminal law issues presented by the materials I reviewed, my conclusions are:

1. The facts recited in the complaint in Vega set forth allegations of child sexual abuse.

2. The principals of Little John's Pizza Co., LLC recognized that the complaint in
Vega provided reasonable cause to believe that Tuck had committed sexual offenses against Andrea.

3. As a public official, John Minnis had a duty under ORS 419B.010 immediately to report them to the Department of Human Services or a law enforcement agency in Washington County, Oregon.

4. John Minnis and Little John's Pizza Co., LLC's payment of $20,000 to Andrea combined with the failure to make the report required by ORS 419B.010 in and of themselves appear to be insufficient to establish the offenses of bribing a witness or tampering with a witness.

John Minnis was a POLICE OFFICER and a public official. I don't rightly know how he could possibly say he didn't know he was obligated to report this to the cops.

To put a fine caveat here, there is no way to obtain information directly showing whether or not John or Karen Minnis reported Tuck to the police. Anything like that would be sealed. However, there is no criminal investigation or criminal court documents against Tuck on this matter, so its more than reasonable to believe that neither of them reported it.

Even more damning were Blackman's conclusions:
The information in the files in the Vega and Minnis cases reflects legitimate allegations of child sexual abuse by Tuck Minnis. It does not appear that these allegations were reported to appropriate law enforcement officials as required by Oregon's Child Abuse Reporting Law and hence were never properly investigated. Conversely, it appears that Little John's Pizza Co., LLC and John Minnis paid money to secure the dismissal of a civil case that the Washington County Circuit Court and the Oregon Supreme Court found to involve only Tuck Minnis' private sexual mistreatment of Andrea. These circumstances raise questions about the purpose of that payment, especially in combination with the violation of the mandatory reporting law. Whether they amounted to the more serious offenses of bribing or tampering with a witness, however, cannot be determined from the available information.

It's worth noting that, according to an Oregonian account of the ads resulting from this disclosure, John Minnis is claiming that he "verbally" reported the incident to fellow officers. Whether this can either be substantiated or if it even meets the reporting requirements under the law is an open question.

Moreover, there's a certain sweet justice to all this, as Steve Duin of the Oregonian observes. After all, Minnis throughout the campaign has been taking the low road:
That Minnis is running neck and neck with Democrat Brading in the 2006 race is evident from the attempt to smear Brading in a campaign flier featuring a photograph of her Brading under the headline, "This man is responsible for children viewing Internet porn in our county library." The flyer asserts that Brading has a "history of supporting pornography." Brading served on the 15-member Multnomah County Library Advisory Board and supported the board's opposition to filters that blocked access to sex-related Web sites on library computers, including those routinely available to children. Source: n.a. "An Expensive race, and a Cheap Shot A Flier Saying Rob Brading Has a "History" of Pornography is Ugly, and Karen Minnis Should Tell her Allies to Halt It." The Oregonian. August 31, 2006.

Minnis' hypocrisy is something special, too. Back in 2005, she was the lead sponsor on yet another get-tough-on-molesters bill that sailed through the Legislature:
House Speaker Karen Minnis, a Republican from Wood Village, is the sponsor of the bill.

She says she decided to push the bill after hearing stories about child molesters who never faced prosecution.

Republican values in action. As I said: It's rather like the fellow who announces his patriotic and moral virtue by wrapping himself in an American flag -- and then uses it to flash the kids at the local schoolyard. ("Hey boys, want to see my torture policy?")

If you feel like it, help out Minnis' opponent, Rob Brading. This is one of those rare cases where a local legislative race can have a broad statewide impact.

-- Dave

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