Eye on 2020 as Booker, having dodged scandal, set for Sessions testimony

Sen. Jeff Sessions AG

President-Elect Trump has nominated Alabama Republican senator Jeff Sessions for Attorney General. (Photo: US Senate)

Is Cory Booker concerned about the potential for more bone-digging over a scandal he dodged?

Booker, Democrat senator from New Jersey, is set to make history. Booker will testify against Sen. Jeff Sessions, Republican from Alabama, who is nominated for attorney general to President Donald Trump.

Media reports claim Booker will be the first to testify against a fellow senator seeking confirmation for a cabinet post. Toss in the possibility Booker may have his eye on the 2020 presidential nomination. 

His testimony means Booker will draw an abundance of press coverage with government-allied media.

Booker will be high profile as he launches what will be perceived by Sessions’ supporters as a partisan political attack.

Who is Booker?

There’s lots to mull over, because Dem scandals are effectively downplayed by national media. Dems have superior messaging because they control the vast majority of media from pop news  ‘reporters’ and pundits to dogmatic Tinseltownies.

Ever heard of Leland Yee, famous gun rights opponent and California state senator? Didn’t think so.

After Booker testifies in today’s hearing, there won’t be a line of media workers peppering him about what one op-ed in a major New Jersey daily called the ‘Newark Watershed Development and Corruption Corp.’

Questions are due. Could further investigations be undertaken by Sen. Sessions once he is confirmed as AG? Booker should be asked if that is a factor in his attack.

Reams have been written by area media about the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corporation. Corrupt to the core, the entity acting as water provider in the northern part of New Jersey followed Dems’ Tammany Hall tradition. Appease the masses with skillful rhetoric and otherwise bleed them dry.

Even some Democrats who apparently still have a sense of honor were horrified at the level of corruption NWCDC spawned. National Review reported:

“New Jersey state senator Ron Rice, a Democrat, calls it “Newark-gate.” He is referring to a state comptroller’s report that details how a contractor swindled the city out of millions in public funds, and to the larger culture of ‘white-collar crime’ that he says former Newark mayor Cory Booker allowed to flourish on his watch.”

More reportage came from Western Journalism:

“Since the 1970’s, a parade of crooked Democrats have been siphoning off millions of dollars from The Newark Watershed Conservation Development Corporation (NWCDC), the major supplier of water to Northern New Jersey. The NWCDC has been turned into a cash cow of the type the fictional Tony Soprano would have shaken down. A recently released New Jersey State Comptroller’s report has outlined the criminality attached to this operation, just during the last several years of Booker’s tenure as Newark’s mayor. It alleges that NWCDC’s chief Linda Watkins-Brashear, once a close ally of Senator Booker, spent most of her time lining her pockets and those of her friends with money siphoned from the operating budget of the agency.”

Booker’s fellow politico Watkins-Brashear took the fall, pleading guilty after admitting “accepting approximately $999,000 in kickback payments in exchange for her assistance in awarding work to various vendors and contractors of the agency.” It must have pained President Barack Obama’s DOJ to prosecute the case, but in a rare phenomenon, citizens of New Jersey stood together to demand something be done about the graft.

Booker got a pass. As mayor, he sat on the NWCDC board. He had responsibility for oversight of an organization who ended up hiring another buddy of Booker as legal counsel:

“But it was another “reform” mayor — now-U.S. Sen. Cory Booker — who perfected the practice of using the corporation to produce pork and patronage for his pals. The most prominent was Elnardo Webster, who had been Booker’s partner at a law firm prior to his election as mayor in 2006. Webster, who served as Booker’s campaign treasurer, was paid more than $1 million in legal fees by the NWCDC between 2007 and 2011, according to the comptroller’s report.” 

Booker did get some light taps for questionable incidents in his life. I wrote about him ahead of the special election in 2013 as he ran for US senator:

Meanwhile, people who live in Newark, a city whose violence is not a secret, criticized Booker for claiming to live in New Jersey despite the fact his houses appeared vacant to a reporter from The Daily Caller. Others who know Booker claimed his stories about rescuing people and dogs are suspect. TDC also said Booker, who belongs to a party that levies taxes on, as former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton said, “everything that moves,” paid his property taxes late.

Booker may have been fine with all the largesse at taxpayers’ expense at the NWCDC, but he didn’t hesitate to reduce levels of law enforcement even as Newark grappled with crime.

Booker was dropped from a lawsuit over the NWCDC scandal, but that suit was held in US bankruptcy court. Who knows what might turn up if some real digging ensued?

Even some in leftist media took a dim view of Booker’s performance. The Daily Beast said:

“Months after he first entered the Senate, the New Jersey comptroller alleged that under Booker’s watch—or, more likely, because he was not watching—corruption ran rampant at a publicly funded water-treatment and reservoir-management agency, where Booker’s former law partner served as counsel. And speaking of his former law career: Despite having resigned from his law firm once entering the mayor’s office, Booker received annual payments until 2011, during which time the firm was profiting handsomely off of Brick City. That would be the Brick City that Booker professed to love with the fire of a thousand suns, but did little to fundamentally change. Murder, violent crime, unemployment, and taxes all rose dramatically under his stewardship.” 

Whatever political barbs Booker aims at Sessions, it is a good idea to consider the source.

(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Jan. 10, 2017)

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About Kay Day

Kay B. Day is a freelance writer who has published in national and international magazines and websites. The author of 3 books, her work is anthologized in textbooks and collections. She has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. Day is a member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Authors Guild.
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