Politics & Policy

Beto O’Rourke Will Not Get the Kavanaugh Treatment

Representative Beto O’Rourke greets supporters before an event in Del Rio, Texas, September 22, 2018. (Sergio Flores/Reuters)
The media are curiously uninterested in investigating the unanswered questions surrounding criminal misconduct in O’Rourke’s past.

I used to see the mainstream media as an adjunct of the Democratic party. That’s debatable; it could be that the party is the adjunct. Either way, the most brazenly overt aspect of the partnership is that the press no longer even feigns interest in allegations against nominees; it is interested only in allegations against Republican nominees.

We await the next shoe to drop in the Judge Kavanaugh saga. Rest assured that if there’s a rumor that, in third grade, young Brett yanked on the ponytails of the girl in the second row (war on women!), the New York Times, NBC News, and phalanxes of their journalistic colleagues will be all over it.

Meanwhile, Representative Beto O’Rourke had a pair of felony arrests in his mid-to-late 20s, including a reckless drunk-driving incident in which he crashed into a car and allegedly tried to flee from the scene. The cases appear to have mysteriously disappeared without serious prosecution, notwithstanding that O’Rourke continues to deny basic facts outlined in at least one police report.

So, what really happened? We don’t know. See, Representative O’Rourke is a Democrat.

Not just that. O’Rourke is the Democrat running for a Senate seat against Ted Cruz, the Republican incumbent who is a favorite of grass-roots conservatives. Consequently, the press and Democrats have about as much interest in probing O’Rourke’s checkered past as they do in exploring allegations against Keith Ellison — the hard-Left Minnesota congressman, attorney-general candidate, and deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, who has been accused of physically abusing his longtime girlfriend.

O’Rourke appears to be quite the character, notwithstanding the media’s indifference.

In the wee hours of the morn on September 27, 1998, at age 26 (i.e., considerably older than Kavanaugh was at the time of his alleged misconduct), O’Rourke lost control of his car while speeding eastbound on route I-10 in El Paso. According to the police report, after he struck a truck, O’Rourke’s Volvo careened through the center median and finally screeched to a halt facing eastbound on the westbound side. Police say that O’Rourke attempted to flee from the scene of the crash but was stopped by a witness who, simultaneously, had to warn oncoming traffic of the danger. When he was ultimately apprehended, O’Rourke told police he’d had only two beers. In reality, a breath test indicated a blood-alcohol level of 0.136, well above the 0.10 legal limit — a fact police discovered after he slurred his words so badly he could barely be understood and could not pass simple walking tests.

The Cruz campaign has asked about the incident, but O’Rourke has denied the police report’s allegation that he tried to leave the scene. So . . . did he? And did he make false statements to police about his alcohol intake after crashing into another vehicle at a high speed (but, luckily, not killing anyone)?

We don’t know. His name is not Kavanaugh and he’s not a Republican. We are told it is vital to find out what Kavanaugh did and how much alcohol he consumed while doing it. In O’Rourke’s case . . . not so much.

By the way, the drunk-driving incident is not a one-off, an aberration in an otherwise uneventful early adulthood. About three years before the car crash, O’Rourke was arrested for allegedly burglarizing a campus building at the University of Texas at El Paso. He reportedly claimed the incident was a college prank, but he was not a college student at the time.

Both of these potential felony cases against O’Rourke seem to have been dropped. This is strange, particularly given the palpable seriousness of the car crash and alleged attempted flight. The press is remarkably uncurious about the unanswered questions, taking a “nothing to see here” approach to the lack of prosecution.

Interestingly, O’Rourke’s late father, Pat, a longtime political ally of Texas’s Democratic governor Mark White, was a powerful El Paso judge in the mid ’80s, a few years before Beto’s hijinks. In 1983, a condom filled with white powder, suspected to be narcotics, was found in Judge O’Rourke’s car while it was being serviced. But a sheriff-captain, conveniently surmising that Judge O’Rourke must be the target of a frame-up, directed subordinate officers to flush the powder down a toilet. Voila! — the matter was dropped.

All in the family? You might say that. In 2010, Charlotte’s Furniture, a longtime O’Rourke family business then run by the congressman’s mother, Melissa, pled guilty to federal money-laundering charges — specifically, to avoiding currency-transaction reporting requirements by structuring $630,000 in payments by a single customer.

Who was the customer, who apparently needed $630,000 worth of furniture? Was the customer involved in laundering money connected to some illicit cash business such as drug trafficking? Why was only the O’Rourke business prosecuted (a $500,000 fine, half of which was suspended), as opposed to the business’s operator(s) or employee(s) who carried out the illegal structuring? We don’t know; the authorities have sealed the relevant records and — well, I’ll be darned — journalists have not been curious enough to investigate.

Meanwhile, as a first-term lawmaker, O’Rourke skirted a 2012 law that barred members of Congress from profiting on initial public offerings of stock based on information not available to the public. A House Ethics Committee memo warned members to avoid such IPOs as Twitter’s, which was about to launch. O’Rourke, who says he did not see the memo (but was nevertheless required to follow the law), bought Twitter shares, then quickly sold many of them as the stock rocketed higher in value. After he found out that Legistorm, a congressional news site, had caught wind of the transaction, O’Rourke fessed up to the Ethics Committee that he had engaged in several IPO trades. The congressman agreed to sell off IPO shares he was still holding and send the Treasury Department a check for what he said was the amount of his profits. The matter appears to have been dropped without any law-enforcement investigation.

Oh, and he said he was sorry. Clearly . . . nothing to see here, right?

The point here, we should stress, is not that people can’t redeem themselves. We’re all sinners. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. It is not a matter of O’Rourke’s being disqualified; that’s for Texans to decide. The question is whether we should tolerate a blatant double standard in the media reporting on which we rely to make important decisions.

Like Brett Kavanaugh, Beto O’Rourke is seeking one of the most important positions in the U.S. government. Unlike Kavanaugh, O’Rourke will have no swarms of reporters combing through files and tracking down witnesses about the details of years-old misconduct — misconduct that, in O’Rourke’s case, is not merely “alleged” but actually happened. There will be no television-spectacle hearing. He will be treated with respect, not treated as if he were a criminal suspect.

It’s good to be a Democrat.

Most Popular

Elections

Yes, Voter Fraud Is Real

M aybe ballot security isn’t such a bad thing after all. Democrats, who the day before yesterday were insisting that voter fraud didn’t exist, now believe that it was used to steal a North Carolina congressional seat from them — and they may well be right. Republican Mark Harris has a 905-vote lead ... Read More