Nation

Gore Labors On
Tennessee Sting
Giuliani Bugged
Plummeting Hopes
Choice Shopping
Washington Nuts

Gore Labors On
Eats Dubya's Dust

Big Labor's endorsement this week may give Al Gore a boost in the media, where his Tennessee reincarnation is being portrayed as the crucible for a new improved version of the same confused Veep— but no matter how Gore huffs and puffs, he seems un-electable. The harder he works at it, the more Gore accommodates the campaign of Republican front- runner George W. Bush, who is doing a reverse Clinton on the Democratic base with attacks on the Republican Congress targeted at "Reagan Democrats."

In a Social Darwinian society where Wall Street looms larger than ever, and there is little difference among candidates or parties (granted, the Reform Party looks more and more like a caricature of Springtime for Hitler), Dubya echoes Daddy's "thousand points of light," and calls for religious and charitable groups— anybody but the government— to deal with social welfare. Clinton/Gore stands proudly on its "reform" record of cutting the poor off welfare. And of course, neither party has any real interest in ballyhooed health-care reform, with the result that over 43 million uninsured are left to fend for themselves, and the elderly, dependent on a reduced Medicare, face a dead end. The ideal of equality is as dead as Gore's campaign.


Tennessee Sting
Coehlo's Wavy Gravy

New questions about Gore campaign chair Tony Coehlo's controversial role as U.S. commissioner of the Expo '98 World Fair in Lisbon, while Coehlo was promoting the Luso-American Wave Foundation, were made public last week by the Center for Public Integrity. (Coehlo was briefly eased out of the spotlight by the appointment of Donna Brazile, the Dukakis aide who was tagged as a smear artist in the 1988 presidential campaign after she called then vice president Bush a philanderer. Is Gore looking for trouble?)

According to the Center, Coehlo didn't include a controversial $300,000 personal loan from a Lisbon bank in a federal financial-disclosure report he filed in 1998, an apparent violation of the ethics-in-government act. The disclosure form showed that he made more than $1.8 million in 1997 and had a net worth of $10 million.

Coehlo's lawyer, Stanley Brand, initially told reporters that the loan "was paid off" with "donations"— including a large contribution from Coehlo himself. Later, however, Brand said that Coehlo "is in the process of paying off" the loan and still owes $109,000. A report by the State Department's inspector general raised the question of whether the government is responsible for the loan, since it was held for a time in a government account while Coehlo was running the fair.

The potential liability could increase since the Foundation got contributions ranging from $100 to $5000 from Portuguese Americans whose names were to be engraved on a Lisbon monument called The Wave, erected to honor families that had emigrated to the U.S. Even now a Web site urges visitors to "contribute to the Wave and have your name engraved on the monument." However, no names have ever been engraved on the monument, and Luso-American's certificate of incorporation was revoked last month in Washington, D.C., "for having failed and/or refused to file any of the reports required by law." It was never granted tax-exempt status by the IRS, and in fact was officially incorporated seven months after Coehlo first sought donations and two months after the fair closed. The Center maintained that "throughout the fair the Foundation was no more than a toll-free telephone number and a mailing address within the offices of a Washington lobbying firm."

The loan was paid off last week with Coehlo's personal funds, Brand said. The former congressman received the loan after the deadline for filing the personal-disclosure form. The IRS tax-exempt application is pending. As for the money to put names on the monument, it went to build the structure, Brand said.

Coehlo's disclosure statement also reveals that he is a major investor in Portuguese funeral parlors, holding more than $1 million worth of stock in Service Corporation International, the behemoth mortuary conglomerate that allegedly was involved in irregularities in George W. Bush's gubernatorial reelection campaign (see Mondo Washington, July 20). SCI allegedly pumped money into Bush's campaign in hopes he could gut Texas Funeral Commission rules banning the employment of cheapo contract embalmers.

Coehlo's involvement with the U.S.-based firm was aimed at helping it get a foothold in the lucrative Portuguese undertaking market, which features one-stop "death supermarkets," including embalming, chapels, and even restaurants for mourners under one roof. SCI, from which Coehlo drew $283,000 in director's fees and other compensation during 1998, reportedly contracted with the Catholic Church in Lisbon to bury approximately 5000 parishioners a year.


Giuliani Bugged
U.S. Says Nay to Spray

Despite suspicions that the mosquito-borne virus which precipitated the spraying of New York might be bioterrorism— first broached in the London Daily Mail and recycled in the current New Yorker— the greatest danger to the city remains the spraying itself. While Mayor Giuliani continues to insist that the pesticide malathion is harmless to people, the federal government has quietly asked the city not to spray in federal parklands within the metropolitan area.

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