May 17th, 2006

Rainville’s Toilet Tissue Issue

by Philip Baruth

You know how some people can’t go into a public restroom without dragging a piece of toilet paper out on the heel of their shoe? They’ve combed their hair and washed their hands, and then, yes, there it is, flickering at their heel like a nasty little flag of incompetence.

It’s not like it’s the end of the world: you whisper in their ear, and they pick it off with a cocktail napkin, and life goes on.

But after watching them fall victim for the third or fourth time, you do begin to wonder about their mental candle power. And their overall karma.

This is Martha Rainville, every time she leaves the GOP’s disastrous set of leadership PACs. Every time she goes in, she comes out tagged by some nasty, embarrassing little . . . connection.

Shay at the Vermont Guardian has the latest, and it’s beautiful: the Randy “Duke” Cunningham connection. Key grafs:

“WILLISTON — A powerful GOP leader who donated $2,000 to Republican hopeful Martha Rainville is now the focus of a federal probe into a growing corruption scandal linked to defense contractors.

“In a May 11 story, the Los Angeles Times reported that Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-CA, the chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was being investigated by federal prosecutors.

“Rainville, who returned a $1,000 donation to Rep. Don Sherwood, R-PA, because of allegations that he abused a former mistress, is not ready to give back Lewis’ donation, a spokesman said.

“It is too early to speculate, and we will wait for more information to be released from the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” said Nathan Rice, Rainville’s campaign manager.

“The U.S. attorney’s office in Los Angeles has issued subpoenas in an investigation into the relationship between Lewis and a Washington lobbyist linked to disgraced former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, R-CA, the Times reported.”

Suddenly, it’s not enough that Rainville’s taking Roy Blunt/Tom Delay money, much of which originated with Big Tobacco.

Now she’s getting into the cash that seems to have fueled defense contractor scandals, and what has come to be known as “Hookergate” (Watergate parties, prostitutes, and Homeland Security misappropriations).

These are scandals that continue to push the envelope of even the most jaded corruption investigators.

A piece of toilet paper on the shoe, again? Or something even more damaging, and even less attractive? Time will tell.

But Martha’s people are leaving nothing to chance, Nathan Rice in particular. They apparently want to make sure the incident hobbles their campaign, by doing nothing for several weeks or months.

This hesitation has been, of course, the camp’s general modus operandi: “We will wait for more information.” They’ve done this wait-and-muse trick with every major decision thus far, and snatched defeat from the jaws of victory every time.

Nothing like sticking with a game plan.

But on a final, more serious note: there will come a moment sometime this year or next when Vermont’s media players all gather in a ball room somewhere and hand one another awards for their coverage of this election cycle.

Chances are good that all of those awards will go to three or four very well-funded outlets.

But VDB would like to go on the record now: Shay Totten at the Guardian deserves one of those plaques, for the coverage of the Welch/Rainville race if nothing else. He’s broken story after story, come up with documents no one else could seem to uncover.

Whether he ever receives this plaque will depend on the honesty of the mainstream media. But whether he deserves it cannot be questioned.

To quote Shakespeare in Love, the Guardian has shown the state and the nation that they “are men of parts.”

So, at the very least, says VDB.

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