Liberal media outlets are doing their best to boost former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, President Obama's third pick for the beleaguered Commerce Secretary job. "Obama's New Commerce Pick Has Clean Reputation," declared National Public Radio's Tom Banse. The Democrat possesses "a largely scandal-free resume" reported The New York Times. He is a "safe choice," the Washington Post asserted, because of his "strait-laced reputation."
But repeating the Mr. Clean claim doesn't make it so. Those in his home state who know Locke best paint a far grimier picture of a crony politician with a serial habit of skirting campaign finance laws and conflict-of-interest rules. In other words: Locke's "Do As I Say, Not as I Do" record makes him a good fit for the ethically impaired Obama administration.
The left-leaning Seattle Weekly newspaper notes that Locke presided over a $3.2 billion tax break for Boeing while "never disclosing he paid $715,000 to -- and relied on the advice of -- Boeing's own private consultant and outside auditor." Then there's the tainted matter of Locke's "favors for his brother-in-law (who lived in the governor's mansion), including a tax break for his relative's company, personal intervention in a company dispute, and Locke's signature on a federal loan application for the company." Locke's laces ain't so straight.
The glowing profiles of Locke have largely glossed over his troubling ties to the Clinton-era Chinagate scandal. As the nation's first Chinese-American governor, Locke aggressively raised cash from ethnic constituencies around the country. Convicted campaign finance money-launderer John Huang helped grease the wheels and open doors.
In the same time period that Huang was drumming up illegal cash for Clinton-Gore at the federal level, he also organized two 1996 galas for Locke in Washington, D.C. (where Locke hobnobbed with Clinton and other Chinagate principals); three fundraisers in Los Angeles; and an extravaganza at the Universal City, Calif., Hilton in October 1996 that raised upward of $30,000. Huang also made personal contributions to Locke -- as did another Clinton-Gore funny-money figure, Indonesian business mogul Ted Sioeng and his family and political operatives.
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