Friday, December 16, 2005

$15,000 For What?

Paul Goldman
The linking of the already-infamous $15,000 payment -- made days before the election from the Kaine campaign to Paul Goldman -- to Mayor Doug Wilder’s late-coming endorsement is probably a distraction. Governor-elect Tim Kaine knew the mercurial Wilder’s endorsement would happen late, if at all. (Of course, that Kaine’s poll numbers were surging in the weeks before Wilder’s move, more or less forced him to hop aboard the Kaine bandwagon.) However, if Wilder and Kaine made a deal along the way, dear reader, it’s between the two of them, where I expect it will stay. And, don’t believe for one second that $15,000 had anything to do with any such agreement.

The real question should be this: For the sum of $15,000, what exactly did the Kaine campaign buy from Goldman, the mayor’s longtime right-hand-man, who is, by the way, on the City’s payroll?

Goldman -- what’s with that same-as-it-ever-was sport jacket? -- has been a quirky background player in politics, a strategist, whose specific duties and methods have never been fully aired out in the press. Now Richmond’s taxpayers are paying him $145,000 a year to be a “senior policy adviser.” Sounds like a consultant to me.

To know if there is a conflict of interest in Goldman’s duties to the City and what he -- acting again as a consultant -- did for Kaine’s camp, we simply must know what that $15,000 bought at the 11th hour of what had been a two-year campaign. Don't most political consultants do their special magic a little earlier than the eve of an election?

Was it 15 G's-worth of advice? Or, does Goldman have connections on cut-rate sky-writers or poster printing? Or, does he own an offshore phone bank? Maybe Goldman called some people, who knew some people? Or, could the dough have gone into a fund for what used to be known as walking around money? In other words, did it go toward small cash payments to individuals -- on the day of the election -- to persuade them to drop what they were doing to go vote? Or what?

That “or what?” is the problem. We’re being left to fill in the blanks. Even though happy Democrats are busy pointing at recent money scandals that appear to tarnish a list of Republicans -- such as Rep. Virgil Goode and Rep. Eric Cantor -- the donkeys ought to give it a rest, long enough to squeeze the truth out of Goldman.

For Goldman to return the troublesome money, or give it to a charity, is not enough. Both he and Kaine’s campaign must clear the air on this matter, pronto, to put it in the rear view mirror. That, or this minor brouhaha could swell up to be a King Kong-sized distraction at Kaine’s inaugural.

Perhaps Mr. Goldman would be more comfortable working exclusively in the private sector, where he can stay in the shadows? That checkered coat he always wears probably looks better in low light.

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Photo Credit: F. T Rea

2 comments:

The Richmond Democrat said...

This is probably a non-story. Remember that Goldman is a paid political operative, like say Karl Rove. He has specialized knowledge and contacts. I suspect this is related to organizing the election day canvassing.

Both sides used paid canvassers in the final days of the election (canvassers are those people who knock on your door and remind you to go vote). Who do you think has a list of the very best canvassers in Richmond, Virginia? I'll bet Doug Wilder's number-one political adviser has a pretty kick-ass list, don't you? And of course the inner cities are a really important area for the Democrats to cover. So Goldman was probably paid for his list, and to make some calls to get his canvassing machine mobilized.

I thought it was funny that the RTD attacked Goldman on the front page, but then, in the editorial page of the same issue basically said it was okay for Virgil Goode to accept $90,000 in dirty money from MZM, Inc.

Talk about a double standard.

F.T. Rea said...

J.C. Wilmore: Thanks for commenting. Your explanation sounds plausible. My speculation was just that, and no more. I meant to show why Kaine and Goldman need to go transparent ASAP.

Still, I wonder about whether, or not, Goldman ought to be on the taxpayers’ payroll much longer. Maybe he has done enough for the City of Richmond. He looks uncomfortable in the spotlight.