Politics

A Moranic career: Rep. Jim Moran’s violent political life

Jamie Weinstein Senior Writer

The day after Bill Clinton admitted on national television that he had carried on an affair with Monica Lewinsky, Democratic Virginia Rep. Jim Moran lamented the baseness of the national scandal.

“This whole sordid mess is just too tawdry and tedious and embarrassing,” he said in 1998. “It’s like a novel that just became too full of juicy parts and bizarre, sleazy characters.”

The criticism was stinging, mainly because Moran is a world-renowned expert in sleaze.

Last week, another chapter was added to Moran’s tawdry political career when his son was arrested outside of a Washington, D.C. bar for, according to police, grabbing his girlfriend “by the back of the head with his hand and slam[ming] her head” into a “metal trashcan cage.”

The report went on to quote a medical technician who said the girl’s nose looked broken and “her right eye socket could possibly be fractured which is actually considered a skull fracture.”

Rep. Moran seemed nonplussed by the incident, calling his son and his battered girlfriend “good kids” and saying they “look forward to putting this embarrassing situation behind them.”

On that account, Moran can be of great service to his son because few know more about putting embarrassing situations behind them than Jim Moran. His career has led from one embarrassment to the next, including numerous physical confrontations, bombastic accusations against individuals and even an ethnic group, and a history of sketchy financial dealings.

A former amateur boxer, Moran has taken the skills he honed in the ring into elective office — literally.

In the mid-1980s, he served as mayor of Alexandria, Va., where he reportedly had a history of engaging in physical altercations while in office.

“The Mayor was clearly guilty of assault on more than one occasion,” an officer told the online news site Capitol Hill Blue in a 1999 profile of Moran. “But the word came down. The Mayor was off limits. Ordinary citizens go to jail. Not the Mayor.”

“He was a bully and a thug … we’d call the cops but they wouldn’t do anything,” added a bartender in Alexandria where Moran caroused.

One combatant during that time said when Moran and he got into a confrontation he quickly realized he “was looking into the eyes of a madman.”

As a congressman in 1995, Moran got into a scuffle — what’s been described as a “shoving match” — with now-disgraced Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham, on the House floor. In 1999, Moran’s wife called the cops on him, saying he grabbed her in the heat of an argument. He claimed he was just restraining her and no charges were filed, but wife number two filed for divorce the next day.

Most bizarrely, in 2000, Moran attacked an 8-year-old boy he claimed threatened to carjack him, though the boy said he simply told Moran he “liked his car.” Moran was accused of grabbing the boy by the neck and screaming profanities at him. “He choked me and cussed at me,” said the boy, whom The Washington Times described as under five feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds.

Moran called the charges “all lies.”

When Moran isn’t engaging in violence, he is threatening it. During his first campaign for Congress in 1990, after his opponent accused him of being soft on the Gulf War — comparing his position to that of Yasser Arafat and Moammar Gadhafi  — Moran called him a “deceitful, fatuous jerk” and said he wanted to “break his nose.”

In 2000, according to conservative polemicist Michelle Malkin, he reportedly threatened to break Indiana Republican Rep. Dan Burton’s nose as well.

You might say Moran has an anger-management problem. In 2003 he went to his Catholic Church with a candidate for mayor two days before an election. Moran reportedly became so enraged by the priest’s anti-abortion sermon that he confronted a different priest afterward, “screaming and pointing his finger at him,” according to one witness.

“You priests don’t know anything about abortion,” he reportedly yelled.

And in April 2011 at a town hall meeting, Moran flipped his lid at an injured war veteran who challenged him about why Congress was so dysfunctional.

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If Moran’s not going off the rails and attacking or threatening to attack someone, he is often found making defamatory charges against people and even entire ethnic communities.

In 2003 he blamed the Iraq War on Jews.

“If it were not for the strong support of the Jewish community for this war with Iraq, we would not be doing this,” Moran said. “The leaders of the Jewish community are influential enough that they could change the direction of where this is going, and I think they should.”

Neither President George W. Bush nor Vice President Dick Cheney nor Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is Jewish, nor for that matter was anyone in President Bush’s cabinet at the time the war began. Incidentally, American Jews opposed the Iraq war in a greater proportion than Americans as a whole.

Moran later apologized for his slander, but made a similar statement four years later, substituting the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobby group, for Jews in general.

Despite this, Moran felt confident enough in his own enlightened bona fides to accuse those who didn’t vote for Democrats during the 2010 midterm elections of being motivated by racism against President Obama.

Similar chutzpah was on display weeks earlier in 2010 when Moran, who didn’t serve in the military himself, accused his Republican war-veteran opponent of having never “served or performed any kind of public service.” Moran defended himself, saying he meant civic service at the local level.

Then there is Moran’s history of corruption — or at least dancing with the appearance of corruption.

In 1984 he resigned from the Alexandria Town Council and pleaded no contest to corruption charges, though the charges were later dropped. In 1996 he used campaign funds to rent himself a car after he was forced to sell his own vehicle in the midst of financial difficulties brought about by terrible stock trades. It should be noted that Moran was a professional stock trader before entering politics.

In 1998, Moran got a favorable loan from MBNA before signing on as a lead sponsor on a bankruptcy bill the company supported. The seeming conflict-of-interest was revealed in 2002, when a different version of the bill was coming up for a vote. “The timing of my loan was wholly coincidental with the co-sponsorship of bankruptcy reform,” Moran said, denying any wrongdoing.

In 1999, right before co-sponsoring a bill to extend Scherling-Plough Corp.’s patent on the allergy medication Claritin, Moran accepted an unsecured $25,000 loan from a lobbyist pushing for the legislation. The promissory note’s interest rate was significantly below the market rate.

As Reason magazine noted, “The note set no repayment schedule, but it was callable anytime, effectively making Moran a puppet on [the lobbyist’s] string.”

In 2010, Moran was among several members of the House Appropriations defense subcommittee investigated by the House ethics committee for providing earmarks to companies that donated heavily to their campaigns. The committee ultimately cleared Moran and the others, but outside groups such as Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington weren’t persuaded of his innocence.

Just months later one heavy donor to Moran and the other investigation targets pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud.

And then there were the revelations in in Peter Schweitzer’s book, “Throw Them All Out.”

The book accuses Moran of using information he gleaned from a Sept. 16, 2008 meeting with then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke — during the 2008 financial collapse — to make stock trades.

“September 17, 2008, was by far [Rep. Jim] Moran’s most active trading day of the year,” the book reads. “He dumped shares in Goldman Sachs, General Dynamics, Franklin Resources, Flowserve Corporation, Ecolabs, Edison International, Electronic Arts, DirecTV, Conoco, Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Apple, CVS, Cisco, Chubb, and a dozen more companies.”

Schweitzer’s book reveals that while using such insider information in the private sector to make trades would land ordinary U.S. citizens in jail, it is not illegal for members of Congress to trade on insider information they encounter while doing their work on Capitol Hill.

Nonetheless, Moran later claimed he wasn’t at the meeting in question.

All in all, it may be a genuine miracle that Moran is not in jail, much less a former member of Congress. Yet every two years his constituents comfortably re-elect him so he can go about his important business, such as fighting the scourge that is erectile dysfunction commercials.

Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that during his long tenure in Congress, Moran’s only arrests have come for protesting a moral cause. He was arrested twice while protesting Sudan’s murderous regime with other activists outside the Sudanese embassy in Washington, D.C.

Moran’s 23-year-old son Patrick seems to have inherited more from his father than just his violent temper — he seems to have inherited his luck as well.

Patrick Moran’s brutal attack on his girlfriend last week is not his first run in with the law. In October, he was caught on tape in a James O’Keefe sting operation expressing his willingness to aid in voter fraud to help his father win re-election. He resigned from his father’s campaign and a criminal investigation was launched.

The younger Moran has not seen the inside of a jail cell — at least not yet. For last week’s assault, he merely got probation — and now his girlfriend is saying police misconstrued her face-bashing.

It’s an astonishing tale. One that, considering his father’s career, will surely lead him to Congress before it lands him in prison.

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