ProPublica Forgets to Mention Federal Judge Being Impeached was Clinton Appointee


By: Warner Todd Huston

A Federal judge from Louisiana is under a cloud of impeachment and if he’s convicted it’ll be the first Federal judge impeached in almost 20 years. The story was covered by the new wire service named ProPublica, a service that claims to be non-partisan. Yet in two stories on this judge there is not one mention of the fact that he was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton, nor that his corruption was known by the Department of Justice when Clinton made the appointment. I wonder why ProPublica didn’t find that relevant, don’t you?

A while back, I wrote of a new wire service that was starting up to be called ProPublica. This new service claimed that it was going to be a non-partisan service but the fact that it was being funded by left-wing billionaires made me wonder about the veracity of that claim. I have to admit that I haven’t paid much attention to ProPublica since my first look into it, but this judge story piqued my interest. So, I gave ProPublica a look see.

I found at least two stories about this corrupt judge on ProPublica, both written by Christina Jewett. One from September 16 and one from the next day.

Both of Jewett’s stories have all the requisite facts about Judge Thomas Porteous’ questionable actions. Both stories tell of the envelopes of cash the judge took from attorneys and representatives involved in cases before him, the free rooms in Vegas he accepted, the wild gambling there, the fact that he filed his own bankruptcy papers under an assumed name, that he didn’t report these gifts on his taxes, etc., etc. We even get a paragraph informing us that authorities suspected this misconduct before he was named to the Federal bench.

The Justice Department report indicates that agents suspected Porteous’ misconduct as a state judge before his appointment to the federal bench in 1994. For “several years,” the department investigated Porteous and brought evidence to a grand jury of wire fraud, criminal contempt of court and submitting false statements to banks, the report says. According to the 5th Circuit special committee’s report, about $80,000 in unaccounted for cash flowed into Porteous’ bank and money market accounts from 1998 to 2000.

Yes, we get all sorts of info about this corrupt Federal judge. ProPublica seems to tell us everything we want to know about Judge Thomas Porteous… except who put him on the bench.

It turns out that President Bill Clinton put this corrupt judge on the bench in 1994, even though the Department of Justice knew this guy was a crook. Heck, even the Associated Press mentioned that this judge was a Clinton appointee. Yet strangely, the fact that this corrupt, bribe taking, gambling addicted, thief of a judge was a Clinton appointee didn’t seem relevant to ProPublica. I wonder what that says of ProPublica’s claims that it just wants to report the facts in a non-partisan manner?

Why did they want to ignore the Clinton connection? Was it to shield Clinton from being connected with this corrupt judge? Or is the fact that he was appointed by Bill Clinton truly an unnecessary aspect of this story?

I wish I could answer that.

(Background info: According to ProPublica’s announcement, “Christina Jewett has worked at the Sacramento Bee since 2002. Her reporting on criminal justice has been honored with awards from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the National Commission on Crime and Delinquency.”)

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