Dana Watch: My Man Manafort

Illustration by Bob Aul

Because of the multiple felony convictions of Paul Manafort, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Slime Bucket) says he will donate to a local charity the $1,000 Donald Trump’s former campaign manager donated to the congressman . . . in 2013.

The timing filled Harley Rouda, the Democrat facing Rohrabacher in November’s race for the 48th Congressional District, with rhetorical questions:

“Why did Dana sit on the contribution for five years and is only willing to give it back now that Manafort is a convicted felon?”

“Will Dana also give back all contributions that he may have received from convicted felons?”

“Will Dana be donating Manafort’s contribution with interest?”

“And, most important, does Manafort’s contribution have any connection to the ongoing FBI investigation of two alleged Russian operatives—an investigation that Dana is deeply entwined in?”

As of press time, Rohrabacher’s office has only answered that their boss is fulfilling a pledge to make the donation to . . . well . . . someone.

Shortly before a jury in a Virginia federal court found Manafort guilty of multiple counts of tax fraud on Aug. 21, Rohrabacher described the defendant to the Los Angeles Times as “an old friend” that he first met when both were campaigning for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential bid.

While working as a Reagan speechwriter, Rohrabacher became pals with then-College Republicans chairman Jack Abramoff. The friendship lasted through Abramoff’s career as a lobbyist, and Rohrabacher stuck by that old pal even after he was convicted of influence peddling in 2006 and sent to federal prison.

It was while with the Reagan administration that Rohrabacher met then-Marine Colonel Oliver North, who was a central figure in the Iran-Contra scandal in 1988, when he helped Rohrabacher raise money for his first bid for Congress (although it apparently did not involve arming Iranians, funding Contras and/or dumping crack on South Central Los Angeles). North was convicted in 1989 of accepting an illegal gratuity, aiding and abetting in the obstruction of a congressional inquiry, and ordering the destruction of documents. The conviction was later overturned.

The disclosure that Joseph M. Medawar paid Rohrabacher $23,000 for a 30-year-old screenplay came amid the movie producer’s 2005 arrest for running a scam in which $5.5 million raised from investors for a TV show was actually spent on personal expenses, including a $40,000-per-month Beverly Hills mansion. In 2006, Rohrabacher returned the $23K, and Lebanon-born Medawar pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and income-tax evasion. He eventually served 45 months behind bars.

With old pals like these, who needs criminals?

Got Dana Watch fodder? Email mcoker@ocweekly.com.

Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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