Monday, November 10, 2014

Who Remembers Republican Congressman Jay Kim?


Former U.S. Congressman renounces American citizenship, defects

Much to the embarrassment of Korean-Americans, the first person elected to Congress from their community was Jay Kim, a Seoul-born crooked conservative. A former mayor of suburban Diamond Bar, Kim was elected to Congress from the just created 41st CD in 1992. His campaign and his entire sleazy political career were financed by Korean corporate interests. He was chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee's subcommittee for Public Buildings & Economic Development. The story of how he lost his 1998 primary to Arkansas Confederate war reenactor and multimillionaire real estate wheeler-dealer Gary Miller is instructive.
When Republican Congressman Jay Kim and his wife June pleaded guilty to federal charges that they accepted hundred of thousands of dollars in illegal campaign contributions, one might have thought Kim's political career had ended. But the anguishing tale of Jay and June Kim is far from over.

...When the Kims pleaded guilty they knew Jay could face up to three years in prison and that June could get two years. They also faced fines large enough to bankrupt them.

But they also seemed to think Jay could stay in Congress.

...Working under the motto: "Hard work pays off," Jay quickly caught the eye of the Republican Party Leadership and steal fundraisers Newt Gingrich and Haley Barbour and was tapped to address the Republican National Convention in 1992 so he could project to Korean-based corporations that the GOP leadership would do them favors in exchange for big soft, hard and illegal donations to Kim-- and perhaps the Republican Party itself.

In a rousing speech, using himself as an example, Jay extolled the virtues of personal responsibility and hard work to realize the American Dream. Unexpectedly, Jay was cast as the "role model" for American immigrants, saying, "Hopefully, they can look at me and say, "He made it. [He stole it.] Why can't I?"

Jay's rapidly growing reputation also cast him into the national media spotlight. Time magazine profiled candidate Kim as one of the political "outsiders," who was a "new broom to sweep a dirty Congress clean."

...[C]onservatives like Jay Kim have insisted that Korean-Americans have fundamental economic and political differences with key members of the Civil Rights Coalition and that Korean-Americans can better meet their interests through the Republican Party and its commitment to fiscal conservatism, law and order, and the "dismantling of the welfare state." Before Kim pleaded guilty to federal crimes, if was unclear whether the liberals or conservatives would win the debate within the Korean-American community.

...When the Kims pleaded guilty US Attorney Nora Manella underscored that Kim's wife June and his campaign committee had also been charged with the campaign finance violations that include accepting donations from corporations and from a foreign national.

"The charges demonstrate that Congressman Kim, his wife and his campaign committee, over a period of years, knowingly and willfully disregarded the campaign finance laws applicable to all candidates for federal office," Manella said in a statement. "Congressman Kim and his wife have acknowledged their criminal conduct and accepted responsibility for it."

Yet a spokesman for the US Attorney's office said it would recommend no more than six months jail time for the Kims, although the judge will have the final say.
After he was convicted, the Washington Post did a story on the uncomfortable life he was forced to live, complete with electronic ankle bracelet and very restricted movement-- which included the halls of Congress and his Faifax apartment (and nowhere else.)
In the past 200 years, at least two House members have kept their seats while serving in prison: Rep. Thomas Lane (D-MA) went to jail from May 7 to Sept. 7, 1956, for tax evasion and Rep. Matthew Lyon (R-VT) was imprisoned for violating the Sedition Act in 1798 but returned to Congress after a mob broke him out of jail. No lawmaker has served in Congress after being sentenced since the creation of the ethics committee in 1968, former House counsel Stanley Brand said.

According to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles, Kim has admitted to committing the largest amount of campaign violations ever by a member of Congress. More than one-third of the contributions to his 1992 primary campaign, where he eked out a victory by 889 votes, were illegal.

"Jay Kim probably stole a congressional election in 1992 by this fraudulent campaign financing scheme. If the House is serious about the meaning of elections and democracy, they'll expel him, and soon," said Gary Ruskin, who directs the public watchdog group Congressional Accountability Project. "In my view, Jay Kim's presence cheapens the moral authority of every other member there."

Kim is undeterred in his bid for reelection, even though he originally pledged to serve only three terms and is barred by his sentence from traveling to his district just east of Los Angeles before the June 2 primary. He faces two primary opponents and a national Republican leadership that has signaled it would be just as happy if he loses.

Meanwhile, the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct recently announced it has expanded its investigation of his activities to include all four of his elections as well as whether he lied to the committee in January.

Then there is Kim's recently estranged wife, June, who is cooperating with the ethics committee and seems intent on informing voters of the shortcomings of her husband of 36 years.

"He is a congressman. He should be clean. He should be a role model," argued June Kim, who also pleaded guilty to accepting illegal campaign donations last year and who has filed for divorce. "In fact, he is the most crime-committing person I know."

But the 59-year-old Kim is nothing if not resilient-as well as audacious. He recently sent a mailing to the voters of his heavily Asian and Hispanic district emblazoned with the image of a dead woman and child, alluding to his family's flight during the Korean War. "Has his dream become a nightmare?" the mailer asks. "It's up to the voters in the 41st District." He has also begun seeking campaign donations by advertising in Korean-language newspapers, touting his connection to Korean President Kim Dae Jung.
Republicans love braying about how more Americans have renounced their U.S. citizenship since Obama was elected than under any other U.S. president-- 7,988 by February, 2014. I guess we can make that 7,989 since the GOP crook, Jay Kim, has renounced his citizenship and is moving back to South Korea, where he's already a part time resident, to run for Congress there. He keeps a home in McLean, Virginia as well. Since being booted out of Congress, Kim has become an honorary citizen of Jeju Province, an international advisor for Gosung-Gun in Kyung-Nam Province, an honorary ambassador for Gyeonggi Province and a public relations advisor to the Office of the President of Korea. He also serves as the chairman of the Washington Korean-American Forum.

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