FBI Runs Fake Candidate For Federal Office

by TChris

Does the FBI recognize any limits on its ability to deceive the public? The FBI planted Thomas Esposito as a candidate in a primary for the West Virginia legislature. Catching Esposito on a federal corruption charge in 2003, FBI agents used him to set up a vote-buying sting.

Esposito entered the state House race in January 2004, after losing his bid for a fifth term as Logan mayor. … Investigators believed that "if Esposito were to become a candidate for elective office, a virtual treasure trove of evidence could result," Assistant U.S. Attorney R. Booth Goodwin II said in a federal court filing last month. "The undercover investigation has yielded important results."

Esposito withdrew from the race less than a month before the primary, claiming he needed to tend to an ill family member. Nobody knows whether the alleged vote buyers would have committed their crimes if Esposito, desperate for a break in his own case, hadn’t begged them to take his (that is, the FBI’s) money. In any event, the results obtained — “charges against 16 residents of Logan and neighboring Lincoln counties” — can’t justify the FBI’s tactics.

Misleading the public by running a candidate who won’t actually hold the office is an affront to democracy. A bogus candidate who campaigns well might dissuade legitimate candidates from entering the race. And Esposito drew more than 2,000 votes despite dropping out. Would those voters have remained loyal to Esposito knowing he was an FBI stooge? Where would those votes have gone if Esposito hadn’t been pretending to run? The FBI’s decision to muck around with the election for its own purposes may have changed its outcome.

The culture of deceit that pervades federal law enforcement exists only because courts refuse to reign in the FBI.

The chief judge of West Virginia's southern federal court district condoned the tactic Thursday in an election fraud case against Perry French Harvey Jr., the man who allegedly accepted the $2,000.
Judge David Faber rejected arguments from Harvey's lawyer that the government had acted improperly by putting up a sham candidate.

The FBI’s behavior was outrageous. If judges won’t protect us from the FBI’s interference with the election process, who will?

< Partisanship v. Professionalism in the Justice Dept. | Scapegoating Katrina: Sunday's NY Times >
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    Re: FBI Runs Fake Candidate For Federal Office (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:38 PM EST
    That's OK, the Republicans ran a fake candidate for President and he won. I think I would have preferred the FBI candidate.

    Re: FBI Runs Fake Candidate For Federal Office (none / 0) (#2)
    by cpinva on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:38 PM EST
    this is kind of a scary precedent. how will i, the voter, know from now on whether the candidates are real or memorex? hopefully, this will be struck down on appeal.

    Re: FBI Runs Fake Candidate For Federal Office (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dusty on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:38 PM EST
    I am so sick of entrapment cases and stings..thats what I will always perceive it as..I dont care if its legal or not. Its bogus to set up people to fail..or cheat, or sell drugs or lie or whatever the FBI is trying to pull off.

    Re: FBI Runs Fake Candidate For Federal Office (none / 0) (#4)
    by oldtree on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:06:38 PM EST
    interesting, the FBI wants to catch criminals they set up a patsy, he gets bribes they have just proven our entire electoral system is corrupt from the word go this should be an important lesson to us all. our government is for sale, what is the big deal? we have found out that their experiment worked. time to start over folks, our system is corrupt at the very core, and our lawmakers won't do anything to change it, right? it is hard to imagine them doing something that would benefit the people if it affects their picking up some fast money, after all, their choices are clear, they are driven by the need for money in our electoral system the solution seems simple, let's enact a series of laws that prevent contributions to the "ticks" in any form. Perhaps then we will get people that actually just want to help, instead of what we have now, people that just want to be paid for their vote. they know that it is a door to riches, let us close the door