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Turkeys of the Year 2009

Politics in America

We Don’t Have George W. Bush to Kick Around Anymore

L&P’s Turkeys section mourns the passing of the Bush administration, which for eight years richly endowed the section. Here are two last hits, in memoriam:

  • When asked if he would have invaded Iraq had he known there were no WMDs, George Bush replied, “That’s an interesting question.”
  • Michael Chertoff, Bush’s Secretary of Homeland Security, had a lovely gift for his former employees—a 315-page paperback book of a selection of speeches given by Chertoff over his tenure. The cost (to taxpayers, of course) of each book: about $50.

Arlen Specter Feels His Former Party’s Pain

Arlen Specter, who defected from the Republican Party to become a Democrat, on what it felt like when Sen. Jim Jeffords did the same thing in 2001: “It felt as if there had been a death in the family,” he said. “We first pleaded with him; it is really a devastating loss …” leaving GOP moderates “hurt and confused.”

If Only They Had Decided to Do It Before the 2000 Presidential Election

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, unhappy about taxes proposed by the federal government, entertains the idea of his state seceding from the union.

It’s Official: The Winner Is the Id Over the Super-Ego

Eliot Spitzer resigned the governorship of New York after he was caught on the customer list of a high-end call-girl outfit.

The Hypocrisy Files

Among those calling the loudest for Bill Clinton’s impeachment were Sen. John Ensign, who admitted to a long affair and that his parents had paid the woman $100,000 as a “gift”; and Newt Gingrich, who was having his affair at the same time as the impeachment hearings.

President Obama Would Like to Thank Republican Leaders for Handing Him the Hispanic Vote in 2012

Newt Gingrich called Sonia Sotomayor “a Latina woman racist.” Karl Rove sneered that Sotomayor “is not necessarily smart.” And Rush Limbaugh compared her nomination to the hypothetical nomination of David Duke, former head of the Ku Klux Klan.

Yes, Virginia, There Is a Gay-Rights Cause

North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx claimed that Matthew Shepard’s violent murder, inspiration for a hate-crimes bill, didn’t happen because he was gay, and she called the notion a hoax.

Our Heartfelt Sympathy on the Death and/or Injury of Your Beloved Son or Daughter

The Army sent 7,000 letters with the salutation “Dear John Doe” to family members of soldiers who have died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Let’s See: Help America or Hurt the President?

Bill Kristol of The Weekly Standard told Republicans on his blog that they need to resist the temptation to work with Democrats to find a solution to the health care crisis. “This is no time to pull punches,” he wrote. “Go for the kill.”
 Republican Sen. Jim DeMint of South Carolina ginned up his troops with this line: “If we’re able to stop Obama on [health care], it will be his Waterloo. It will break him.”

I Have Here in My Hand a List …

Rep. Spencer Bachus, of Alabama, says he has drawn up a list of 17 members of Congress who are socialists.

I Have Here in My Hand a List (of Incorrect Names) …

At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, a photograph of former Minnesota Sen. Eugene McCarthy was shown during a roll call of the honored dead. Only one problem: he was called Joseph McCarthy.

The Sartorial Theory of the American Presidency

Former Bush Chief of Staff Andrew Card blasted President Obama for not wearing a jacket in the Oval Office.

‘First They Came for the Christian Conservative Soccer Moms …’

Michele Bachmann said that for reasons of privacy, she did not plan to fully fill out her U.S. Census form next year—a violation of federal law—noting that census information was used in the effort to send Japanese-Americans to relocation camps during World War II.

And Never Forget: Torture Can Be a Powerful Motivator Too

Missouri State Rep. Cynthia Davis, in a screed attacking food programs for the elderly and for children, advised that the programs were really “all about increasing government spending” and that “hunger can be a positive motivator.”

An Aptly Named Former Mayor

Los Alamitos Mayor Dean Grose resigned after sending around an e-mail photo depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons under the title “No Easter egg hunt this year.”

Call 1-800-GRASSLEY-IS-ALWAYS-GREENER for Help

Iowa’s Sen. Charles Grassley suggested that disgraced AIG executives “resign or go commit suicide.”

The Worst Part? She’s Taking the Job of an American Homewrecker

After disappearing for a week, South Carolina’s governor, Mark Sanford, admitted he was secretly visiting South America to continue an affair with a woman in Argentina.  


Life in Minnesota

That’s What They Get for Hiring New York-Based Copywriters

In announcing the opening of its rebuilt store in Roseville, a Rainbow Foods mailer told of an open house at its “newest supermarket in Wisconsin.”

The Boy Who Cried “Falling Off a Bridge”

A 23-year-old man pretended that he was falling off a bridge over the Minnesota River, then actually fell about 30 feet. He was hospitalized in stable condition.

Try to See It My Way. If the Public Knows About It, They Might Not Like It

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman reversed his stand about keeping the city’s preliminary budget secret, saying the idea was “misguided.”

Next: No Gloves—They Prevent the Leaving of Fingerprints

Students at Prior Lake High School can no longer wear hats or hooded shirts during the school day so that security cameras can always capture their faces, reports Reason magazine.

The Appendectomy That Was So Nice They Did It Twice

A surgeon in Shakopee performed an appendectomy on a patient twice—the first time getting the wrong piece of tissue.

This Whole “Twin Cities” Thing Is a Little Confusing Too. New name: St. Minneapaulis

In July, the Metropolitan Airports Commission decided it would replace the allegedly confusing signs that direct travelers to either the “Lindbergh” or “Humphrey” terminals. The sign replacement will cost more than $2 million.

Evidently Chuck Didn’t Do All the Things God Told Him

The FDIC has cited the Riverview Community Bank in Otsego, Minn., owned by Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, for “unsafe and unsound banking practices.” The bank was co-founded by Chuck Ripka, who heard God’s voice tell him, “Chuck, if you do all the things I told you to, I promise you I will take care of the bottom line.”

Lawyer Caught Without His Briefs

Minneapolis lawyer Johann Scott Scrimshire was arrested in July for allegedly exposing himself to passers-by while riding a bicycle. Scrimshire told police he was training for a naked bike race.


Quotations from Chairwoman Michele

  • To the GOP’s first black chairman, Michael Steele: “You be da man!”
  • The Obama administration wants to expand the AmeriCorps program in order to establish “re-education” camps for America’s young people.
  • “I’m very concerned that [Obama] may have anti-American views.” Later she claimed the remark was an “urban legend” and had been taken out of context. Check it out on YouTube.
  • Earmarks are corrupt and she says she has not taken them in her three years in Congress. That excepts, we guess, the $4 million in earmarks she took before making her anti-earmark pledge.
  • “Carbon dioxide is natural. Carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas.”
  • “It’s interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under Democratic President Jimmy Carter … I just think it’s an interesting coincidence.” (Note: Another interesting coincidence is how she remembers this event, as it was Republican President Gerald Ford who led the country during the last swine flu episode.)
  • In a blind-leading-the-blind interview with KTLK’s Chris Baker, Bachmann said she opposes the stimulus because “we’re running out of rich people in this country.”
  • Forgetting, we guess, her idol Ronald Reagan’s gift of American optimism, Bachmann compared the U.S. (under Obama) to the Titanic and, citing a Washington Examiner columnist, said, “We’ve moved into the realm of gangster government.”


Religion in Minnesota

That Sticky Sixth Commandment Doesn’t Include Our Enemies

Rabbi Manis Friedman was quoted in a Jewish magazine as saying, regarding a hypothetical war between Israel and the Arabs, “Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children. With their holy sites destroyed, they will stop believing that God is on their side.”

Anyone Who Disagrees With Me Is Against My People

Archbishop John Nienstedt called President Barack Obama an “anti-Catholic” because his policies on abortion, stem cell research and gay rights disagree with Catholic positions.


Minnesota’s Most Creative Legal Excuses of the Year

If This Works, Doctors Will Never Again Be Responsible for Anything They Write

Derrick Riddle, who the Star Tribune reports is accused of trying to swindle Tom Petters’ lawyers, came up with a creative defense: he claimed the judge’s signature on the complaint was illegible, and so the charge should be dropped.

Reviving the Twinkies Defense

The losing party in an arbitration handled by attorneys at Hammargren & Meyer in Edina challenged the result on the basis of an alleged impropriety because snacks were served at the 12-hour arbitration hearing.

I’d Love to Reveal What Sen. Ensign Said About Money, Sex and Politics, But My Professional Ethics Prohibit It

One of John Ensign’s friends, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, said he could not testify against Ensign because he talked to him as a “physician and as an ordained deacon.”


The Norman Vincent Peale Files: No More Gloomy Gus Stuff for Me

From the Barbara Bush School of Consolation

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, responding to a major Italian earthquake that killed more than 150 people and injured thousands, urged Italians who were newly homeless to think of it “as a camping trip.” (Barbara Bush, referring to the poor who had lost everything in Hurricane Katrina and had to be evacuated, commented, “This is working very well for them.”)

Hello, Club Med Cuba

The reigning Miss Universe, Dayana Mendoza, a former Miss Venezuela, visited the prison at Guantanamo Bay and called it “a relaxing, calm, beautiful place.”


The Cocaine-in-Minnesota Files 

Look at It This Way: He May Have Lost Two Months of His Life, But at Least He Smelled Good

A Shakopee man spent two months in a Minnesota jail after he was found with a suspicious white powder. When tests revealed the powder was deodorant, not cocaine, the man was freed.

Unfortunate Headline of the Year

Thanks to MinnPost.com and David Brauer, who reported the following Associated Press headline about a cop who smelled crack being smoked in a public restroom:

“Cop makes arrest in bathroom after smelling crack.”

The Worst Place to Take a Coke Break

Roseville-based attorney Charles Ramsay was arrested for cocaine possession after he took a bathroom break at a trial. The St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that a police officer saw the lawyer duck out of the courthouse restroom, pinching his nose and “sniffing profusely.”


The Media

Quick — Call Nancy Reagan’s Astrologist to Give Us a Prediction on This

In the first week of October 2008, KSTP announced a survey that showed Barack Obama and John McCain in a dead heat, with Norm Coleman holding a 10-point lead over challenger Al Franken. The same week the Star Tribune poll showed Obama with an 18-point lead over McCain, and Franken with a nine-point lead over Coleman.

If the U.S. Economy Collapses, and Terrorists Take Over Europe and Asia, Then, Just Maybe, Republicans Will Have a Chance at Winning an Election

When asked about his hopes for the newly elected Obama administration, Rush Limbaugh responded, “I hope he fails.”

The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder: Not Insanely Hyperbolic All the Time

Headline from The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, Jan. 29 edition: “St. Cloud State not a racial nightmare for everyone.”


Georgia Legislators vs. President Obama 

Not Only That, His Mother Was So Dumb She Sat on the TV and Watched the Sofa

Georgia Rep. Paul Brown said that “we’ve elected a Marxist to be president of the United States” and that Obama was planning a national security corps like the security forces of the Soviet Union.

That Boy Obama’s Just No Good

Rep. Lynn Westmoreland of Georgia called the Obamas “uppity.”


Very Bad Excuses

Even John Yoo Got a Job

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales blamed the fact that he was unable to find a job for several months on the “tough economy.”


Campaign 2008

And, Oh, That 1 Percent He Left Out!

Candidate John Edwards said that “being 99 percent honest is no longer enough.”

Why Sarah Palin Is Completely Qualified to Be Vice President of the U.S.

Because, says John McCain, “She knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.” Or, according to Condoleezza Rice, because “she’s governor of a state here in the United States.”

And Then There’s Palin’s Extensive Foreign Policy Experience

When asked by Katie Couric how living next to Russia gave her foreign policy experience, as she has claimed, Palin answered, “It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the airspace of the United States of America. Where—where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to—to our state.”

It’s Not Like Government and Big Oil Are in Bed Together … Wait

Government officials in charge of collecting royalties on oil and gas companies — for amounts adding to billions of dollars—accepted gifts from the companies, steered contracts to them and engaged in drug use and illicit sex with employees of the energy firms, according to a federal investigation.


Here’s an Idea: An Alternative Minneapolis Police Department to Police the Police

In Fairness, The Sunroof Was Showering the Officers With Harmful UV Rays

Two Minneapolis police officers were fired after shooting their guns from their SUV, including through the sunroof.

Like Kindergarten, You Get a Ribbon Just for Trying

Eight Minneapolis police officers raided the wrong house in their search for a gang member. (Bonus Turkey: Mayor R.T. Rybak looked on as Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan gave them medals of valor for that botched raid.)

Which Gang to Fight? The Gang in Colors or the Gang in Blue?

A legislative audit revealed that the Metro Gang Strike Force could not account for $18,126 in cash and 13 cars. Of the 29 cars they gave to Cars with Heart, 19 had not been properly forfeited. At least $17,000 in forfeited cash was spent without prior approval to send six officers to Hawaii for a conference there. When the news broke, a cache of shredded documents was found, whose trail, according to the Star Tribune, led to three desks at the Strike Force headquarters.


Morons With Microphones

Quick — Cancel My Membership to the ACLU

Talk radio on the president of the United States:

  • Rush Limbaugh: “a man with a perverted mind”
  • Michael Savage: “handpicked by some very powerful forces within and outside the United States of America to drag his country in a hell that it has not seen since the Civil War.”
  • Chris Baker, of the Twin Cities’ KTLK radio: he’s “a little bitch” who “won’t even stand up to a smoking-hot chick from Alaska.”
  • Ann Coulter: “I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power, saying, ‘Oh well, I didn’t know. I had no idea it was going to be like this.’”
  • Cincinnati-based Bill Cunningham: “Obama wants to gas Jews.”

And Do We Really Believe Christopher Reeve Had a Spinal-Cord Injury?

On-air personalities Chris Baker and Langdon Perry of radio station KTLK accused Magic Johnson of faking his AIDS diagnosis for public sympathy.

Rush Limbaugh Shows His Tender Side

Rush Limbaugh predicted Sen. Ted Kennedy would be dead by the time Congress passed health care reform. “Before it’s all over, it’ll be called the Ted Kennedy Memorial Health Care Bill.”

Cut Off the Last Two Letters of His Last Name and It Describes Him Well

Nationally syndicated Neal Boortz warned us that welfare recipients are “human parasitic garbage lining up to get their applications to loot.”

No One Crosses the Godfather

GOP Chairman Michael Steele said of Rush Limbaugh that he “is an entertainer, his whole thing is entertainment. Yes, it’s incendiary; yes, it’s ugly.” Two days later, Steele publicly apologized to Limbaugh, saying, “There was no attempt on my part to diminish his voice or his leadership.” Then Rep. Phil Gingrey, of Georgia, dared to say that Rush “stir[red] up controversy … but wouldn’t be a good leader.” Sure enough, Gingrey was on Limbaugh’s show the next day offering his “sincere regret” for his comments. A similar scenario, truth-telling about Limbaugh followed by apology, played out for South Carolina’s Gov. Mark Sanford and Kansas Rep. Todd Tiahrt.

And Running Against Him Was Adolf McCain

Hundreds of voters in upstate New York were sent absentee ballots in which the Democratic candidate for president was identified as “Barack Osama.”

… And Inequality for All, Under the Law

At a Republican political rally at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, talk radio host Dennis Prager told the crowd that “equality, which is the primary value of the left, is a European value, not an American value.”


The Obama Administration

No Wonder Democrats Don’t Mind Raising Taxes

  • Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle withdrew his nomination to become secretary of health and human services after it was discovered he failed to pay more than $100,000 in taxes.
  • Former Kansas Governor and now Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathryn Sebelius paid $8,000 in back taxes and interest, two days before her confirmation hearings.
  • Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner made tax errors that required paying back taxes in 2001 and again in 2006.
  • Nancy Killefer withdrew from consideration for Obama’s chief performance operator because of her past failure to pay taxes.

Also, Please Wear a Hazmat Suit Before Riding a City Bus

Asked about his reaction to the looming swine flu epidemic, Vice President Joe Biden said, “I would tell members of my family—and I have—I wouldn’t go anywhere in confined places now. It’s [that] you’re in a confined aircraft. When one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft.”

Or Like His I.Q. That Night

Making fun of his low bowling score on The Tonight Show, President Obama joked that the score was “like the Special Olympics or something.”

Next, Let’s Pretend to Put All Japanese-Americans in Relocation Camps

White House Military Office Director Louis Caldera approved the low-flying flight of a 747, accompanied by two fighter jets over downtown Manhattan. No one in New York was warned of the exercise in advance, which prompted mass panic on the streets, as New Yorkers feared a repeat of 9/11.


The Culture

Why There’s a Sudden Resurgence in Duck Hunting in America

The U.S. government distributed 3.5 million duck stamps (featuring a Plymouth, Minn., artist’s work) attached to what was supposed to be a toll-free phone number for reordering stamps. A misprint, however, gave the number of a toll-free phone-sex service.

For Our Next Game We’ll See If We Can Fit This Paper Clip into an Electric Wall Socket

Former Vikings defensive lineman Darrion Scott put a plastic dry-cleaning bag over his 2-year-old son’s head, holding it tightly around the boy’s neck. Scott said he was only attempting to entertain the boy.

A Good Salesman Never Lets an Opportunity Pass By

Only days after his son’s death, Joe Jackson talked briefly to the press about Michael, and then promoted his new record label, according to the Pioneer Press.

Michael Jackson Strange? Who Would Even Think Such a Thing?

Al Sharpton told Michael Jackson’s children, at Jackson’s memorial service, that it was their daddy’s adversaries—not their daddy—who were “strange.”


The Overstatement Files

Not Counting, Of Course, Rudy Giuliani’s Decision to Drop Out of the 2008 Race

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said that John McCain’s decision to suspend his campaign and lend a hand to the Washington negotiations on the bank crisis was “the greatest single act of responsibility ever taken by a presidential candidate.”

Just Exactly What Is It That’s Being Silly?

For the many months leading up to the stock market collapse, CNBC’s financial analyst Jim Kramer advised a viewer to keep his money in Bear Sterns. “Bear Sterns is not in trouble … Don’t move your money from Bear. That’s just being silly.” Days later Bear Sterns was bailed out to prevent its collapse.

The Moral Equivalent of Pearl Harbor

Illinois Rep. John Shimkus called the cap-and-trade portion of President Obama’s energy plan a bigger “assault on democracy and freedom” than 9/11.

Fighting WWII All Over Again

The military budget suggested by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates will lead to “the disarming of America,” according to Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe (who has compared the EPA to the Gestapo, President Obama’s energy czar Carol Browner to Tokyo Rose and environmentalists to the Third Reich).

Apparently, He Didn’t Have Time to Mention Moses, Jesus and Mother Teresa?

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, accused of wanting to profit from the appointment of a senator to fill Obama’s former seat, compared himself to Martin Luther King Jr., Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

Tales From the Miss California Pageant

The Carol Doda Award To:

The Miss California Pageant, which paid for Miss California USA Carrie Prejean’s breast enlargement operation.

They Call the Wind Pariah

Accused of posing for partially nude photos, Miss California denied it, explaining that during a photo shoot a wind came along and exposed more of her body than she had planned.

Whoever Said, “I May Disagree with You, But I’ll Defend Your Right to Say What You Think” Was a Dumb Bitch

Perez Hilton, the Miss USA judge who asked Miss California what she believed concerning gay marriage, called her a “dumb bitch” when she gave an answer he didn’t like.

A Runner-Up Carol Doda Award To:

A private health clinic in Prague offered free breast implants to any nurse who would renew her contract with the clinic.

 

                                    * * * * *

Who Would Win in a Fight: Batman the City or Batman the Batman?

The mayor of the city of Batman, Turkey, sued Warner Bros. and The Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan, claiming, among other things, that the psychological impact of the film’s success is responsible for the city’s high female suicide rate.

Further Tales of ‘Do As I Say, Not As I Do’

Robert Bork, who blasts personal injury lawyers and laments in an op-ed piece that “lawsuits, verdicts and settlements … are driving up the cost of goods and services everywhere,” sued (and then settled with) the Yale Club of New York for a tumble he took while ascending the speaker’s dais there.

More Like You U(Won’t)C-San Diego

University of California-San Diego sent admission acceptance e-mails to 28,000 students before hours later sending another one saying there was a mistake and they didn’t make the cut.

Well, His Name Is O-BAM-a

PETA, the animal rights organization, complained when television showed President Obama killing a fly in the White House.

Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Sex Maniac?

Oxford poetry professor Ruth Padel, the first woman in over 300 years elected to Oxford University’s prestigious chair in poetry, resigned after admitting that she had worked to taint her main rival for the post with allegations of sexual impropriety.

We Must Destroy the Village in Order to Save It

Disbarred Florida lawyer Jack Thompson, in a bid to prevent another lawyer from allegedly distributing “hard-core porn to anyone of any age,” included several pornographic photos in a court document, which he filed in the public record.

JCPenney Thinks “Irony” Is the Opposite of “Wrinkly”

JCPenney sold T-shirts emblazoned with an eagle bearing the words “American Made,” which were made in Mexico.

Guess What “P.W.S.” Means? (Clue: No Bottle Needed)

Pepsi-Cola announced it would change labels on its Aquafina bottled water from “bottled at the source p.w.s.” to something like “This bottle is purified water that originates from a public water source,” designating that the water is tap water.

Abdul’s Very Small World

Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of Malaysia’s Fatwa Council, explained that a fatwa the council issued against yoga was because of its Hindu roots and its “blasphemous” meditative chants. “There are other ways to get exercise and peace of mind,” Husin said. “Eat less fatty food.”


Who’s Like Hitler This Year?

Lou May Be a Good Analyst, But So Was Pol Pot

ESPN football analyst Lou Holtz offered his insight into leadership: “You know, Hitler was a great leader too.”

Doing a Heck of a Job, Brouny

Georgia Rep. Paul Broun said that an Obama campaign proposal for a civilian national security reserve corps would be like the security forces of Nazi Germany.

His Birthday Present? A Tickle-Me-Adolf

Deborah Campbell in Hunterdon County, N.J., was upset when a local ShopRite wouldn’t decorate a birthday cake for her 3-year-old son. The reason: the lad’s name is Adolf Hitler Campbell. Dad Heath said he named his son that because he liked the name and because “no one else in the world would have that name.”

Q: How is the NIH like Dr. Mengele?

A: Republican Party chairman Michael Steele likened embryonic stem cell research to Nazi medical experiments. TV talker Glenn Beck said the research is like that which led to “the final solution” and the quest for a “master race.”

Obama: Benedict Arnold in Disguise?

Former Reagan defense official Frank Gaffney accused President Obama, after his Cairo speech, of engaging “in the most consequential bait-and-switch” since Adolf Hitler. Obama, he explained, “may still be” a Muslim and is aligned with “the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Adolf Was No Willy Loman!

“In a lot of ways … apart from the fact that Hitler got taken away and persuaded to do things that I have no idea whether he wanted to do or not (editor’s note to Bernie: Read Mein Kampf), he was, in the way that he could command a lot of people, able to get things done.”

—Formula One CEO Bernie Ecclestone


The Great Recession

Almost Tanking the U.S. Financial Markets Is Murder on Your Lumbar

AIG executives went on a $440,000 spa junket one week after being given billions of dollars for a bailout by the U.S. government.

Somehow a Little Spa Junket Just Wasn’t Enough

AIG executives, whose company lost billions of dollars on their watch, awarded themselves $218 million in bonuses from the bailout money they received.

(For more, see the Sports Turkeys.)

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