Folks, I think we’ve got a live one on the line out in Colorado.
You’ve already met GOP senate candidate, and former representative, Bob Schaffer. His main claim to fame in this cycle has been stumbling into fulsome praise for the Mariana Islands sweatshop program that revealed his ties to Jack Abramoff, Jack’s island sweatshop junkets and generally carrying Jack’s clients’ water up on Capitol Hill.
Now Schaffer’s got another great story cooking that’s sure to help his flagging senate campaign.
The nuts and bolts of it basically go like this. A Denver businessman named Bill Orr lobbies Congress and gets a $3.6 million earmark to help develop some new kind of non-polluting fuel. And he sets up the National Alternative Fuels Foundation to get your tax dollars for the earmark. The only problem was that “science” Orr used to get the EPA to fork over $2 million of the $3.6 million of earmarked money was apparently bogus. And as will happen in such cases, it’s gotten him indicted by the Feds for multiple counts of defrauding the government.
Now, Schaffer was still in the House when Orr got his prized earmark. And then not long after he gave up his House seat, he signed on as a “director” at Orr’s highly-credible-sounding National Alternative Fuels Foundation. In other words, Schaffer was a board member of Orr’s outfit/racket during at least part of the time Orr was allegedly bilking the government out of its money.
Part of Schaffer’s explanation for this awkward confluence of events, as relayed by his campaign manager Dick Wadhams, is that he got involved with Orr on the recommendation of one of Schaffer’s Colorado associates-cum-handlers Scott Shires. But that may not be a great association either since back in 2006 Shires copped a plea over his role in the scam and agreed to testify against Orr.
The jury in the case had been deliberating. But just this afternoon they returned their verdict: guilty on 22 counts. So the outlook is not looking good for Orr. But what about Schaffer?
Schaffer has been accused of no crime, though he may be called to testify at Orr’s sentencing. But what about those earmarks? Democrats in Colorado are asking whether Schaffer was the one who got Orr the $3.6 million earmark. And while the case that he did is highly circumstantial and fairly thin at that, no one’s stepping forward to say who got Orr the money and Schaffer’s campaign is rather conspicuously not answering any questions about the earmarks origins.
One way or another, Schaffer is now at best unwittingly tied to an organization that was based in large part on criminal acts. So that can’t be any more helpful than Schaffer’s ties to Jack Abramoff.