Yesterday, I briefly touched on the Ray Reggie mess. Now, it's time to delve a little more deeply into this scandal that could pit the two major Democratic power families against each other.
It all began back in 1992, when Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) married a Washington lawyer named Victoria Reggie. Everyone knows about the bagggage Ted brought with him, but it turned out that Vickie had some of her own. Namely, her brother Ray.
Ray was a political operative out of New Orleans. He was a talented fund-raiser, and used his his sister's new family connections to help him move up to the big leagues. He was soon in Washington, a favored confidante of the Clintons (in fact, he was a guest in the Lincoln Bedroom at least once). And in 2000, he was a key fund-raiser for Hillary's Senate bid.
But Ray had a darker side. He had a fondness for teenage girls (much like the late, not-overly-lamented Michael Kennedy, Ted's nephew), and liked to use the novel approach of pulling them over with a fake blue light in his car. He was also into creative financing, and was caught ripping off three banks for the sum total of $3.5 million dollars. And in 2002, it all caught up with him.
That would have been worth a minor scandal, but Ray apparently had something worth bartering with -- his contacts within the Democratic Party. In exchange for leniency, Ray agreed to wear a wire during future meetings with Democratic officials. And over the next 2 1/2 years, he met with Bill and Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy, and numerous other party leaders and their staffs.
It turns out that their efforts to "turn" Ray were a good investment. Currently David Rosen, Hillary's main fund-raiser, is scheduled to go on trial next month for violating campaign-finance laws. He apparently bragged to Ray that he'd put on a Hollywood fund-raiser for Hillary that ran $1.2 million but only reported it cost $400,000, letting private donors pick up the rest of the tab -- meaning that $800,000 of donations went unreported to the federal government. And insiders say this is only the tip of the iceberg Ray led the feds to.
The speculation is even more fun than the actual events. Did Ray also get some dirt on brother-in-law Ted? Did he protect Ted by keeping him out of his dealings? Or did he tell Ted about his deal with the feds?
And if Ted did know, did he keep quiet and let Ray work to take down the family that is threatening to supplant the Kennedys in Democratic circles? Or did he, in a move worthy of Machiavelli, aim his wayward brother-in-law at the Clintons?
The key phrase from "All The President's Men" still rings true, over 30 years later -- "follow the money." Ray was the pipeline that brought money from the wells to the candidates, and used his talent and connections to gain entry into the halls of power. And now he's using the dirt he uncovered while in those halls.
All I know is, it's gonna be vastly entertaining to watch this one unfold. Somebody pass me the popcorn...
(There has been some coverage of this story in the mainstream press, but it's been pretty negligible so far. Kudos to the New Orleans Times Picayune, The New York Sun, The New York Post, The Boston Herald, and Fox News for their coverage so far. And grudging praise for the Boston Globe and their owner, the New York Times, for realizing they can't sit on this story forever.)