When Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser came forward, Senate Democrats such as Kamala Harris and Dick Durbin falsely claimed that she had “nothing to gain” from making her accusations. Similarly, the Washington Post’s Max Boot, who says “the Republican Party needs to be burned down” and that he wants “the Democrats to take over,” peddled precisely the same refrain, falsely stating that the accuser had nothing to gain from her accusation.
But she obviously did have a great deal to gain from her accusation — over a million dollars. It is wise to be skeptical of accusations when the accuser may have a powerful motive to lie.
… Ford stands to gain some $1 million and counting from national crowdfunding campaigns launched by friends and other supporters, while she is said to be fielding book offers.
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The potential seven-figure windfall, which she says she intends to cash in on – while still asking donors for more money – has some questioning her motivation for accusing the conservative judge after 35 years of silence, and whether it goes beyond personal or even political justice. Others worry the largesse sets a dangerous precedent: Crowdfunding, which unlike political donations is unregulated, could be routinely used in the future as a bounty for providing political dirt on opponents.
This reward for making the accusation was utterly predictable based on past events. When liberals accuse conservative Supreme Court nominees of wrongdoing, they are financially rewarded for doing so. They also get lionized by the media, academia, and the publishing industry, all of which are populated overwhelmingly by liberals who are inclined to think the worst of conservatives. This results in lucrative book and movie deals, speaking fees of thousands of dollars per speech, and fawning, sycophantic press coverage from liberal columnists.
Even allegations that careful observers consider false can result in rich rewards for the people making them if the target of the accusation is a conservative. In 1991, Anita Hill made sexual harassment accusations against Judge Clarence Thomas that most senators considered to be false and that the FBI agents who looked into the matter deemed false. She accused Thomas of saying sexually offensive things to her. But people who looked closely at Hill’s charges didn’t believe them. FBI agents who examined her charges “filed statements detailing what they described as Hill’s untruthfulness,” and many women who worked with Thomas “forcefully rejected the charges.”
As Amanda Prestigiacomo notes in the Daily Wire, Hill lied about a lot: “Hill lied five times about being told something from a Democratic staffer, which she later admitted to under oath.” Hill “made numerous calls” to Thomas after she stopped working for him, and lied about that, claiming she had no contact with him. Earlier, “Hill followed Thomas” from “job to job.” Later, she falsely claimed she did so to keep her job, even though she was a federal employee who effectively had ironclad job security and thus had no need to move with Thomas to stay employed.
Despite the utter implausibility of her claims, Hill reaped a rich reward for her allegations: She ended up with a better job at a more prestigious institution, and book and movie deals, such as a “million-dollar advance” from publishers as a result (an advance that was worth $1.7 million in today’s dollars). Not to mention lucrative speaking fees from colleges, liberal bar groups, and media entities.
Now, a similar windfall is in store for Kavanaugh’s accuser. As Real Clear Investigations reports:
Some legal analysts worry her crowdfunding windfall sets a dangerous precedent by creating a new incentive for accusers. They fear partisan activists will now offer crowdfunding as a form of bounty on political foes, or to buy witness testimony against political adversaries.
This whole aspect of GoFundMe is relatively new, this idea that millions of people can effectively pay you to take a particular [political] position,” said Jonathan Turley, a George Washington University Law School professor. … “It raises new questions that are pretty darn troubling.”
In fact, “you could have people effectively in a market for witnesses,” he warned. “You could buy a witness, effectively, by funding them as long as they’re saying the things you want them to say.”
Turley said that asking if the prospect of making money influenced Ford “to take a certain approach in [her] testimony,” and inquiring how the money raised for her will be spent, are both legitimate questions.
This is indeed troubling, especially given the suspicious timing and provenance of the accusation.
As I noted earlier, the accusation was probably false. The National Review notes that there are numerous problems with the allegations of Dr. Ford. For example, “All four of the people named by Kavanaugh’s accuser” as present at the scene have now “said either that Kavanaugh is innocent of all charges, or that they have no recollection of his doing anything — anything — wrong. Put as simply as can be, there is nothing in the testimony of any of the named witnesses that corroborates, supports, or even implies Dr. Ford’s allegations. Of the five people who were supposedly at the party, only the accuser has suggested misconduct,” and she “remains the only person within the saga who has not subjected herself to an oath.”
The allegations against Kavanaugh were unfair because they lacked basic details, such as the date when and place where the assault allegedly occurred. An innocent person cannot provide an alibi defense without knowing the date and location in which he is accused of committing wrongdoing.
It was deeply suspicious that Senate Democrats suddenly seized on these allegations against Kavanaugh at the last minute. This was an accusation they privately thought so little of that they had sat on it for months, without disclosing its existence to Kavanaugh so he could rebut it. The Democratic senator who originally received the allegation never confronted Kavanaugh about it or even disclosed its existence when she met with him personally. Clearly, she harbored her own doubts about it. Indeed, her staff had “once conveyed to other Democratic members’ offices that the incident was too distant in the past to merit public discussion.” But when it looked like nothing else would stop Kavanaugh from being confirmed, Senate Democrats, in a last-ditch tactic, seized on this allegation to try to torpedo his nomination.
Senate Democrats hoped to prevent not just Kavanaugh, but any conservative nominee from being confirmed before the Senate changed hands. Ford only requested confidentiality from the Democratic Senator she spoke to “until we have further opportunity to speak.” As the Weekly Standard observed:
[Democratic Senator Dianne] Feinstein had a month and a half to speak with her constituent and determine a reasonable course of action. That shouldn’t have been hard. Allegations, anonymous and otherwise, are made against nominees with some regularity, and there is a process for dealing with them. The ordinary course of action is for the chairman and ranking member of the committee, together with their staff directors, to hold a confidential meeting and determine if the matter merits further probing by the FBI.
But that was the last thing that Feinstein wanted. The Weekly Standard notes that a prompt investigation would “almost certainly have resulted in the FBI finding no corroboration for Ford’s claims, in which case the matter would have ended quietly.” But even if the FBI had found differently, the nominee would just have been replaced with another GOP nominee such as Raymond Kethledge or Amul Thapar. The confirmation of a conservative judge — any conservative — was what the Senate Democrats desperately wanted to prevent.
Judicial nominations matter for the economy. As we noted earlier, if the Democrats take control of the Senate, they are expected to take radical measures, such as blocking any future appointments to the Supreme Court while Trump is in office. They are also expected to block virtually all appointments of judges to the federal appeals courts and to leave many federal judgeships vacant. This would leave courts in many parts of the country in the hands of liberal judges, enabling them to block regulatory reforms needed to increase economic growth. The result could be lost jobs, especially in the energy and mining sectors.
While harping on Anita Hill’s false allegations of sexual harassment against Clarence Thomas, the media largely turned a blind eye to flagrant acts of sexual harassment and assault by a liberal Supreme Court justice. As the Washington Post’s Megan McArdle has noted, “William O. Douglas, the influential liberal justice … seems to have been a shameless liar and, as a Post review of one book about him put it, ‘something of a monster’ toward women.” As the veteran criminal defense lawyer Scott Greenfield observes, Douglas was a “disgusting sexual harasser” who committed criminal acts. Indeed, as a senior lawyer and former court clerk lamented, Douglas was “a compulsive sexual harasser, who repeatedly assaulted women, as any number of court employees attested. … Justice Douglas would show up to judicial conferences and grope even the wives of federal judges, triggering fistfights with men whose wives he sexually assaulted.” The late U.S. district judge Larry Lydick described such incidents of groping and the altercations that ensued.
As the biography Wild Bill noted, Douglas also propositioned the wives of law clerks, and groped unsuspecting female visitors to the court. His colleague Felix Frankfurter, who was appointed by the same president who picked Douglas, called Douglas “one of the two completely evil men I have ever met.”
But there is no call in the liberal media to rename the many federal facilities named after Douglas, such as the federal courthouse in Yakima, Washington or the William O. Douglas Wilderness. Nor is there any push to rename the endowed professorships, lectures, and other academic institutions named after him. Some media entities are removing past episodes of TV shows featuring people who were accused of sexual harassment or assault — even though many great works of art were produced by people who committed awful crimes. But glowing media footage of Douglas remains available. Douglas, it seems, is not expendable, unlike garden-variety people accused of wrongdoing.
By contrast, the media gave sympathetic coverage to attempts to rename a college building in Georgia that had been named for conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas — even though Anita Hill’s charges were false, and even if what she said were true, the conduct she alleged was not harmful enough to rise to the level of illegal sexual harassment. To constitute sexual harassment, conduct must foster a work environment that was both subjectively and objectively hostile, as the Supreme Court made clear in Harris v. Forklift Systems (1993). Because Hill followed Thomas from job to job (even though she had no need to do so), it is clear that she did not find her work environment subjectively hostile. And the offensive language she alleged does not appear to have been severe enough to create an objectively hostile work environment, either. That’s because court rulings such as Duncan v. General Motors and Skouby v. Prudential Insurance Co. have dismissed sexual harassment lawsuits over conduct that was worse.