As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Meet The Face Of "Tough On Crime" California

I think the dictionary definition of "irony" just blew up.

Before Henry T. Nicholas III donated millions to rewrite California's crime laws, the Republican billionaire was entangled in his own netherworld of prostitution, drug peddling, bribery and death threats, federal prosecutors say.

The salacious charges against Nicholas – made public in two federal grand jury indictments unsealed last Thursday – allege a pattern of criminal behavior by one of the state's richest people and biggest political donors.

Nicholas, the 48-year-old co-founder of Broadcom, a computer chip-making company, has donated more than $9.4 million to various California candidates and causes in the past four years. He is a top donor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This year, the indicted Republican billionaire is the financial force behind two crime initiatives voters will consider in November – one to stiffen anti-gang statutes and another to bolster victims' rights. Combined, he has given the measures $5.9 million – critical seed money used to collect signatures to qualify for the ballot.

Proponents are furiously backpedaling away from Nicholas' involvement – even though he is the largest donor to both campaigns.

This guy was backdating stock options to the tune of $2.2 billion, supplied all kinds of drugs to associates and LISTED THEM ON INVOICES as "refreshments" and "party favors," bribed a Broadcom employee a million dollars to get him to keep quiet about his drug use, and threatened physical violence to conceal the same.

He's the one telling California how to manage their crime laws?

The two he's funded for the November ballot are real doozies, considering that we're in the midst of a prison overcrowding crisis.

This year, Nicholas is most closely tied to "Marsy's Law," which would expand the rights of crime victims and make it harder for convicts to obtain parole.

Nicholas wrote the measure, named it after his sister, and contributed all but $100 of the measure's $4.85 million treasury [...]

The second Nicholas-backed initiative, the Safe Neighborhoods Act, would stiffen penalties for gang members and increase law enforcement funding in the state.

Nicholas donated $1 million to the campaign, sponsored by Sen. George Runner and Assemblywoman Sharon Runner, two Lancaster Republicans.

Hypocrisy among Republicans is nothing new. But this drive for ever tougher crime laws is fueled by growing the prison-industrial complex and keeping residents scared enough to send "law 'n' order" Republicans back to Sacramento. It's an insidious game, and the fact that its chief sponsor has committed more crimes BY HIMSELF than any he would address in his initiatives, seemingly, makes it even more unseemly.

We still have a grace period to determine how the state will manage this crisis and avoid a federal mandate to cap the prison population. Hopefully there will be enough room for Henry Nicholas.

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