In the Abu-Jamal/Boockvar flap, politicians just can’t tell it straight

    What do you do when the counter-spin is almost as weak as the spin?

    For a couple of weeks now, the National Republican Congressional Committee has been running an online, email and automated calling campaign asserting that Bucks County Democratic Congressional candidate Kathy Boockvar has ties to the notorious convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu-Jamal.

    As I wrote when I first reported this attack, the links cited are pretty thin.

    The evidence offered by the NRCC shows no direct connection between Boockvar and Abu-Jamal. It shows that Boockvar’s husband, while he was her partner in a law firm, represented an ardent supporter of Abu-Jamal as well as a woman who was a witness in Abu-Jamal’s case.

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    The non-partisan, found no inaccuracies in the Republican’s research, but concluded “they don’t amount to much more than guilt by association.” Read the details here.

    But when former Pa. Gov. Ed Rendell and other prominent Democrats held a news conference Monday to denounce the Republican campaign, they didn’t exactly stick to the facts.

    Rendell said the links Republicans are trying to make between Abu-Jamal and Boockvar are “absurd, absolutely absurd.”

    “They involved her husband’s law firm representing Mumia’s literary agent on a parking ticket case,” Rendell said. “It’s almost laughable.”

    It might be laughable if that’s what the NRCC had said.

    In fact, Boockvar’s husband, who was a partner with her in a law firm, represented Francis Goldin, who, according to the Village Voice was Abu-Jamal’s literary agent and also held his power of attorney and handled his finances.

    But it wasn’t about a parking ticket. Boockvar’s husband represented Goldin, who the Village Voice described as one of the “leading activists in the fight to save Mumia Abu-Jamal” after she was arrested for participating in a pro-Mumia demonstration at the Liberty Bell pavilion.

    The NRCC material also notes that Boockvar’s husband represented a witness in the Abu-Jamal case, and was quoted in a press account as saying that the Philadelphia police had tried to intimidate his client.

    There are a few other points, and taken together, they don’t make any kind of case that Boockvar supports a cop-killer.

    You could conclude, though, that she and her husband, who share a professional as well as personal relationship, are the kind of lawyers who might believe a protester in a Mumia demonstration deserves legal counsel and fair treatment. Or that the police might try and intimidate a witness in an emotionally-charged case.

    You might conclude, in other words, that she’s a liberal Democrat. But in a poltical campaign, nobody can say that.

    The Republican website isn’t called ‘Liberal Kathy.’ Much too tame. It’s called `Radical Kathy’ and takes its case to absurd extremes. The pictures on it are priceless, associating her with burning buildings, riots, mayhem.

    But Boockvar’s Democratic backers don’t want to tell it straight either. Rather than stand up for her values and say she and her husband’s firm represented a protester, they say it’s about a parking ticket.

    The larger truth in all this is still that the Mumia campaign is utterly scurrilous, the kind of thing that is all too common in politics today. And Rendell was right in saying it should be denounced by the candidate that benefits from it.

    That would be U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, Boockvar’s opponent. I’m still waiting for his campaign to return my calls.




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