Thursday, June 6, 2013

Spit Take: Local Pol Busted In Stamp Licking Scandal

Disgraced former Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr., who has already resigned his seat and plead guilty to misappropriating campaign funds, has been arrested again for his role in sending out an "illegal" campaign mailer on behalf of his former chief of staff. The evidence? A match between genetic material found in the spittle on the mailings and a DNA swab taken during the Supe's arrest earlier this year: 
In an extraordinary DNA match, saliva left on the stamp of a scandalous and illegal San Jose political campaign mailer three years ago led to the arrest of a disgraced former Santa Clara County supervisor, prosecutors said. 
George Shirakawa Jr. was arrested Wednesday on charges of impersonating City Council candidate Magdalena Carrasco in May 2010 by sending mailers that linked her to the communist government in Vietnam, said Jeff Rosen, the Santa Clara County district attorney. 
"What is offensive about the flyer," Rosen said, "is that this is a photo of Magdalena Carrasco right across from the flag of North Vietnam." 
The hit piece - whose origin has long been a mystery - was sent to residents of a district with a large population of Vietnamese Americans, and it may have affected the outcome of a tight council race. 
Carrasco finished second in the June 2010 primary by 20 votes, then lost a November runoff election against a former Shirakawa aide, Xavier Campos, by just 400 votes.
Neither Carrasco nor Campos returned calls seeking comment. Prosecutors would not say if Campos was cooperating with investigators.
Now, there's a lot of material to unpack from such a frankly absurd story, it's hard to know where to start:

1. Shirakawa is, needless to say, a Democrat. Not only that, he's the scion of a Democrat family with a long-standing history in South Bay politics. 

2. While it's amusing to think of the grossly obese Shirakawa hunched over his kitchen table licking stamps and stuffing envelopes with a bizarre graphic tying a Hispanic woman to the Commie North Viet Namese, we are also getting a not-so-funny glimpse into the world of, if not voter fraud, certainly voter misdirection. If it's hard to find the sort of shadowy figures who practice this sort of stuff, it might be because the politicos themselves, and maybe their immediate families, are the ones doing it. 

3. If I were Xavier Campos, the "beneficiary" of this dodge, I wouldn't be feeling very appreciative right now. 

4. Note that all of this "DNA-swab-taken-at-his-arrest" stuff is coming just two days after the Supreme Court ruled that such swabs do not violate the Fourth Amendment. It's almost as if the DA was patiently waiting to spring this charge on Shirakawa. 

5. The timing of this has drawn the ire of Shirakawa's attorneys, and rightly so. They negotiated an elaborate "resignation/guilty plea" resolution to his other crimes, and the DA pops up with this the day before the ex-Supe was to be sentenced. Defense counsel is crying foul saying they had agreed to a global settlement of all of Shirakawa's crimes. The DA was clearly holding this back for later. 

6. The mailer has been called every word in the book: "libelous," "scandalous," "scurrilious," etc. But what made it "illegal?" Apparently because Shirakawa included Carrasco's campaign ID number on it, thus making it look like an official Carrasco campaign document. But, read the DA's comments in the story; he seems to think the flyer itself was illegal for combining Carrasco's face with the Viet Namese flag. That's illegal???? 

7. It's hard to believe anyone's vote could be swayed by Shirakawa's flyer - it's incredibly primitive, not to mention stupid - but Carrasco lost by a whisker-thin margin. I am unable to resist that "surrounded by idiots" feeling, even if we're talking about Democrats here. 

8. Note that the offending mailer was targeted at an immigrant community, and was calculated in its ham-fisted way, to offend its political sensitivities. And it worked! This doesn't speak well for the assimilation and sophistication of our treasured immigrant brethren. In fact, it raises the question once again whether there are people voting in American elections who are citizens and actually have the franchise.  

9. Shirakawa is obviously a classic example of the gutter level corruption you can find in any municipality. One imagines a lot of cash-in-envelopes have passed through his hands over the years.

10. But at least he never led a "war on women!"

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