It now seems likely that Weiner was having some form of online affair, and that pictures he shared with one or more paramours were at some point turned over to whoever posted them to Weiner’s Yfrog account (maybe the mysterious woman did it herself, or maybe she’s “Dan Wolfe?” who knows. Really, since there’s no criminality alleged, who cares.) Weiner’s political career is probably over (well, maybe not over, but it’s hard to see how he becomes mayor of New York…) but what’s interesting about the media’s latest obsession is Breitbart’s timing — this is a guy who understands news cycles and how to manipulate them, hence his veritable role as CNN’s assignment editor, replacing Matt Drudge. Did the timing of the “scandal pic” release have something to do with Breitbart’s obsession with protecting Clarence Thomas?
May 27 was a Friday.
According to Salon.com’s timeline of the “Weinergate” affair, here’s what was going on in the online life of Congressman Weiner:
May 27: 7:58 p.m. ET: @RepWeiner tweets: “Heading to 30 Rock to chat with Rachel at 9.#Thats545InSeattleIThink.” Some commentators later suggest he is referring to Seattle because it is in the same time zone as Bellingham, Washington, where Gennette Cordova lives. Weiner himself has called it a “coincidence.”
Between 10:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. ET: A photo of a man’s erection is posted on yfrog under the Twitter name @RepWeiner. The photo is also tweeted to Gennette Cordova, a college student from Washington, from Weiner’s account. According to conservative blog Pajamas Media, the tweet stays up for about four minutes before it is deleted.
[According to Big Government, all of @RepWeiner’s yfrog account photos are deleted around 11 pm ET.]
11:34 pm ET: Dan Wolfe (@patriotusa76) retweets the alleged tweet from @RepWeiner’s account. Andrew Breitbart notices the item on Twitter.
And per the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein, from a May 27 post, here’s what else Weiner was up to:
WASHINGTON — Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) spent his Friday afternoon pestering Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for executing a classic news dump: a release of his financial disclosure filing on the eve of Memorial Day Weekend.
The Congressman spent the day tweeting to his heart’s content, first alerting his 43,000-plus followers to the likelihood that someone on the Court was going to try and bury an embarrassing story while the world’s attention was turned toward the commute and barbecue ahead:
“Friday dump Scotus style? I’m hearing disclosures released today. #ConflictsAbound,” he tweeted.
Shortly thereafter, Weiner let it be known that it was Thomas whose financial disclosure filing he was awaiting. Around 4:30, he had a link to send, showing that Thomas had served on the Board of Directors for the nonprofit Horatio Alger Association and had made $10,000 for a speech at University of Minnesota School of Law.
The real conflict, if there was one, was with his wife Ginni, who earned “Salary and benefits” from Liberty Central and Liberty Consulting — prominent Tea Party Groups. The filing also revealed that the two share several financial investments, including 1/3 interest in rental property in Liberty City, Georgia, and a 401k plan. Thomas went on to note that, “two of the Georgia rental properties have been torn down. The only remaining property is an old house in Liberty County.”
All in all, the file told a fairly well traversed story. It’s been known for several months now that Thomas’s wife — whose employment at Liberty and the Heritage Foundation had not been disclosed on prior documents — presents ethical questions for the cases he chooses to handle as a Supreme Court Justice. ” Spouse of #ConflictedClarenceThomas has every right to work for whomever, but he must recuse himself,” Weiner tweeted, reiterating his belief that Thomas’ should not rule on cases regarding the constitutionality of the health care reform law, due to a potential conflict of interest.That said, the issue of whether this was some sort of nefarious news dump on the Justice’s part isn’t as crystal clear as Weiner suggested. The date on the financial disclosure file is May 13, meaning that it’s been filed with the Court for several weeks. Who chose to release it on Friday afternoon isn’t clear. Politico’s Ken Vogel blamed the Court clerk, to which Weiner, ever the cynic, replied: ” Without the bosses knowlege [sic] or Ok? Cmon.”
Stein reports that the Huffpo reached out to Weiner’s office that day to find out “why he spent his day obsessing over this singular task.” And the news site confirmed that the disclosure from Thomas “came after months of pressure from the Congressman.” (Stein has screengrabs of the tweets in question. One of them is posted below.)
Could be totally coincidental. But back to the Salon timeline, it seems increasingly clear that Breitbart’s “source,” Patriotusa76/Dan Wolfe, who has since disappeared from Twitter (and who no one knows the true identity, or gender, of), had the elicit material at least since May 5th. But the decision to roll with the Weiner scandal on the night of Friday, May 27, Friday night typically being a “news dump” graveyard, is interesting.
Meanwhile, on June 1st, an organization called Protect Our Elections, which had been seeking the disbarment of Justice Thomas since February, sent out the following press release, which got exactly zero news traction:
POE Calls for Investigations Into Justice Thomas in Light of New Financial Disclosure
New Information Reveals Thomas Invested In Lobbying Firm Tied To Tea Party and Engaged In “Judicial Insider Trading” To Enrich His Wife
WASHINGTON, June 1, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — ProtectOurElections.org, a campaign finance watchdog, has asked the FBI and Department of Justice to investigate Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife, Virginia (Ginni) Thomas for financial and judicial corruption partly based on the Justice’s newest financial disclosures.
First, the organization alleges, Justice Thomas falsified 20 years of judicial financial disclosure forms by denying that his wife had income sources; second, he engaged in judicial corruption by receiving $100,000 in support from Citizens United during his nomination and then ruling in favor of Citizens United in 2010 without disclosing that fact or disqualifying himself; and third, he apparently conspired with his wife in a form of “judicial insider trading” by providing her with information about the result of the Court’s decision in Citizens United prior to its issuance, which she then used to launch a new company to take financial advantage of that decision to benefit her and her husband.
On Friday, May 27, 2011, Clarence Thomas’ 2010 Financial Disclosure Forms were released showing that he had invested thousands of dollars in Liberty Consulting Inc. a lobbying and consulting firm founded by his wife to cater to the “tea party.” The disclosure also revealed that his wife received “salary and benefits” from Liberty Consulting and Liberty Central.
Today, ProtectOurElections.org is calling on the DOJ’s Public Integrity Section and the FBI to consider this new information in their investigation of Justice Thomas and his wife.
“Justice Thomas’ newest disclosures provide powerful evidence that he engaged in official corruption by investing in Liberty Consulting and by conspiring with his wife to enrich themselves from the Citizens United decision through Liberty Consulting and Liberty Central,” said ProtectOurElections.org attorney and spokesman Kevin Zeese. “As we have previously pointed out , Liberty Consulting and Liberty Central Justice are linked and appear to be AstroTurf scams meant to take advantage of the Citizens United decision and defraud donors. Now, it is clear that Justice Thomas invested in Liberty Consulting, which was founded by his wife shortly after she was forced by scandal to resign from Liberty Central.”
A few days after the release of our February 8, 2011 Liberty Consulting expose’ on YouTube, the website was deleted from the Internet and it remains offline today. This raises more questions about its legitimacy.
In its May 22, 2011 letter to the FBI, ProtectOurElections.org asked the agency to investigate the timing of the founding of Liberty Central because it appears to be a case of judicial insider trading by the Thomas family to enrich themselves through the Citizens United decision. Now, the ProtectOurElections.org is calling on the FBI to also investigate Liberty Consulting since it appears that Justice Thomas and his wife created the company to raise funds and pay Mrs. Thomas a salary and benefits, and then shut the doors with no explanation or accounting of the budget.
Zeese continued, “This entire affair has all the appearances of corruption and cover up. Only a full scale federal investigation will uncover the facts.”
Sept 9, 2009: Citizens United argued.
Nov 6, 2009: Virginia Thomas launches her new Liberty Central 501©(4) organization, which raises 550K in 2009.
Jan 21, 2010: Citizens United decided.
Virginia Thomas announces that Liberty Central would “accept donations from various sources — including corporations — as allowed under campaign finance rules recently loosened by the Supreme Court.”
November 14, 2010: Liberty Central announces that Virginia Thomas would be leaving the organization.
November 16, 2010: Liberty Consulting incorporated in the state of Virginia.
February 4, 2011: Politico reports that Virginia Thomas had launched Liberty Consulting.
February 8, 2011: ProtectOurElections.org releases its expose of Liberty Consulting
February 12, 2011: Liberty Consulting website is deleted http://libertyinc.co/
February 23, 2011: ProtectOurElections.org files a formal bar complaint against Clarence Thomas requesting that he be disbarred on various grounds.
Seems to me the timing — and even moreso the underlying Thomas conflict of interest scandal — are worth a look.
But the message that’s been sent is crystal clear: if you’re going to go after Clarence Thomas (or the tea party), Andrew Breitbart is going to come after you. Look sharp.
UPDATE: Crooks and Liars is on the same page re ClarenceGate.
UPDATE 2: The Smoking Gun has some interesting information about the men who pursued, and finally busted, Weiner. They’re a rather sleazy duo, with some interesting connections. The fact that one of the two, Mike Stack, is a former pornographer, given Thomas’ known predilections, is creepy indeed.