Jesters in Congress
Thu Sep 27, 2012
By Sandy Frost
Photo credit: FLICKR file for Congressmen Bilirakis. Congressman Bilirakis presiding over tax fraud round table.
Congressman John James "Jimmy" Duncan Jr. Photo credit: Wikipedia, published under the Fair Use Act.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) expense reports document that two current U.S. Congressmen used campaign contributions to pay for membership dues and meeting registration fees to the Royal Order of Jesters.
John J. Duncan Jr. (R) of Tennessee’s 2nd District, has four entries for paying Jester dues for the years 2005, 2007 with two for 2006.
Gus Bilirakis (R) from Florida’s 9th District has three entries for Jester membership dues for the years 2008 here, here and here with one entry for “Jester event registration.” Both are currently running for re-election.
The Royal Order of Jesters is a secret sub-group of the Shriners with members linked to child sex tourism in Brazil and others caught in a FBI human trafficking sting. These include a former NY State Supreme Court Judge, his law clerk (former Erie County Prosecutor), a retired police captain and a former Erie County Sherriff. Court documents include the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office describing the Jesters as a nationwide group of men with members in nearly every group who get prostitutes for their weekend parties.
A group of 19 Jesters were called as witnesses to testify about their first hand knowledge of sex with minor prostitutes while on a fishing trip to Brazil. Former fishing tour operator, Richard Schair, took these Jesters fishing in Brazil for girls over 13. Brazilian prosecutors are currently prosecuting Schair for using minor girls as prostitutes for his North American fishing clients. He’s also under a grand jury investigation in Miami for child sex tourism. Four women who allege Schair forced them into prostitution while minors are also suing him in federal court, however their case is stayed until the Miami grand jury indicts him or not.
Back to the Congressmen.
The most basic problem is that the FEC documents show that these Congressmen used campaign contributions for personal expenses.
According to the FEC, use of campaign contributions for personal expenses is prohibited. From page 53 of FEC guidelines:
Personal Use of Campaign Funds
Using campaign funds for personal use is prohibited. 2 USC 439a(b)(1) and 113.2(e). Commission regulations provide a test, called the “irrespective test,” to differentiate legitimate campaign and officeholder expenses from personal expenses. Under the “irrespective test,” personal use is any use of funds in a campaign account of a candidate (or former candidate) to fulfill a commitment, obligation or expense of any person that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder. 113.1(g). More simply, if the expense would exist even in the absence of the candidacy or even if the officeholder were not in office, then the personal use ban applies.
Update 10/3/2012. Also forbidden are:
Entertainment - The campaign may not pay for admission to sporting events, concerts, theater and other forms of entertainment. Campaign funds may be used, however, if the entertainment is part of a specific officeholder or campaign activity. They may not be used for a leisure outing at which the discussion occasionally focuses on the campaign or official functions.3113.1(g)(1)(i)(F).
Dues, Fees and Gratuities - Campaign funds may not be used to pay for dues to country clubs, health clubs, recreational facilities or other nonpolitical organizations unless the payments are made in connection with a specific fundraising event that takes place on the organization’s premises. See, for example, AO 1995-26.Campaign funds may be used for membership dues in an organization that may have political interests. 113.1(g)(1)(i)(G).EXAMPLE: A candidate or officeholder may use campaign funds to pay for a membership in a civic or community group in his or her district in order to maintain political contacts with constituents or the business community.
And what about the potential conflicts of interest and ethical violations? Could this lead to the suspension of both Congressmen from their committees because of the HUGE security risks? Duncan sits on the Immigration Reform Caucus. Bilirakis sits on the Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Committees.
Homeland Security conducted part of the Jesters human trafficking investigation. The agency helped the FBI catch Jesters transporting prostitutes to a national Jester meeting in Canada as well as to Jester parties in Kentucky, Florida, Pennsylvania and New York. One was an undocumented alien Asian sex slave.
Congressmen are automatically given Top Secret clearances upon election. Could Duncan and Bilirakis obtain such clearances if they disclosed these associations as required by the Top Secret Application, Form SF86?
The form states:
In addition to the questions on this form, inquiry also is made about your adherence to security requirements, honesty and integrity, vulnerability to exploitation or coercion, falsification, misrepresentation, and any other behavior, activities or associations that tend to demonstrate a person is not reliable, trustworthy or loyal.
These guidelines specify why 89% of those reporting sexual events are denied such clearances. From the site:
The Concern: Sexual behavior that involves a criminal offense, indicates a personality or emotional disorder, reflects lack of judgment or discretion, or which may subject the individual to undue influence or coercion, exploitation, or duress can raise questions about an individual's reliability, trustworthiness and ability to protect classified information.
* The immediate suspension of these Congressmen from their committee activities until investigations could prove they are not clear and present security risks because their membership dues and registration fees demonstrate their connections to a group involved with human trafficking, prostitution and child sex tourism.
* Investigations by Homeland Security Inspector General, House Ethics Committee and Office of Congressional Ethics, who has to report if they will investigate in 30 days.
* Congressional ethics investigations focusing on self-disclosure and conflict of interest. Did either Congressman recuse himself from any work with human trafficking, immigration and child sex tourism?
* Call for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to immediately file complaints with the FEC.
* The FBI to obtain warrants to seize Bilirakis’ and Duncan’s work and home computers to see if they ever used their positions of public trust to keep track of Jester cases and warn their “brothers.”
This is important because other Jester judges and high ranking law enforcement officers present the same security risks.
Governor Rick Scott appointed a Jester judge who used his City of Jacksonville email address for Jester newsletters. Additionally, this Judge did not put his Jester membership on page 47 of his application. This Judge is a member of the same Jester “court” with another Judge as well as one of the Jesters who went fishing in Brazil, Harry Howlett Waldron.
The Impresario of the Tallahassee Jester court #194 is also a retired U.S. Marshall.
Governor Bobby Jindhal’s former head of Louisiana’s Sentencing Commission is also a Jester who could have used his position to protect his “brothers.” I sent Jindahl’s staff emails asking about Carle Jackson with no reply. These Jesters are in positions to help protect their nationwide network of prostitution and human trafficking, as described by the FBI and DOJ, including Judges, Sheriffs, Police Captains, Congressmen and other high placed officials.
At the very least, the Senate Finance committee and IRS should investigate the Jesters for nonprofit abuses. This situation is much worse than the veteran’s groups currently under committee investigation. The Jesters just lost a property tax exemption appeal because the Indiana Board of Tax Review decided they don’t qualify as a charitable or fraternal nonprofit group.
Specifically, the Jesters' claims were countered by John C. Slatten, the attorney for the Marion County Assessor, who successfully argued that the Jesters’ property should be 100% taxable because:
•The Jesters building is used for administrative purposes only such as collecting financial information, sending out reports to the various subordinate courts and answering questions about the bylaws.An official at the IRS stated, based on this decision, that the Jesters must immediately disband.
•The Jesters failed to prove the property was predominantly used for any exempt purpose.
•The Jesters failed to show they provided a public benefit that would justify the loss of tax revenue.
•The Jesters do not serve the class of people that are legitimate subjects of charity.
•The property does not relieve any government burden.
•The Jesters are a recreational group that is predominantly a social club.
•The Jesters aren’t engaged in any charitable activities.
•Jester educational activities are limited to the membership.
•The second case used to support their argument was overturned.
•The government has no obligation to provide entertainment, merriment or “mirth.”