WASHINGTON, October 20, 2015 – When Al Capone was convicted for tax evasion on October 17, 1931, a reporter asked the Chicago gangster for a comment. “It was a blow to the belt,” said Capone of the jury’s verdict, “but what can you expect when the whole community is prejudiced against you?”
Al never saw it coming. He assumed that payoffs and intimidation were his two most impenetrable shields. That the corruption, incompetence and stupidity of local and federal agencies placed him beyond the law’s reach.
It was Al, not Eliot Ness and his Treasury agents, who was “untouchable.”
But Al’s mistake was not giving much thought to the guy staying at Chicago’s Sheridan Plaza Hotel. Frank J. Wilson was on a mission to “find gross income in excess of $5,000 accruing to [Alphonse] Capone for any one year,” noting that hiding the fruits of his nefarious criminal enterprises required Capone’s “production department” to turn out “fifty corpses a year.”
Three years of forensic accounting eventually led Treasury agent Wilson to the ledger books with entries proving Capone clearly failed to declare his taxable annual income above $5,000. In 1929 alone, he netted $26,000,000. Adjusted for inflation, in today’s dollars, that’s roughly $357,024,093.56.
“I never heard of anyone getting more than five years for income tax trouble,” complained Capone, “but when they’re prejudiced, what can you do even if you’ve got good lawyers?”
Tax evasion seemed such a petty beef to a guy who personally bludgeoned three disloyal associates to death with a baseball bat.
I thought of Capone when leading Democrats on the House Select Committee on Benghazi issued a report exonerating former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton regarding her role in the Obama administration’s disastrous handling of the 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S diplomatic mission in Benghazi, which left four Americans dead, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens.
A major component of the affair was the crafting of a false cover story blaming the attack on a mob angry over an American-made anti-Islamic video, which culminated in the arrest and imprisonment of the filmmaker.
The 124-page report’s bullet points claims there is:
- No evidence that Secretary Clinton ordered the military to stand down on the night of the attacks;
- No evidence that Secretary Clinton personally approved or ordered a reduction of security in Benghazi prior to the attacks;
- No evidence that Secretary Clinton pressed the United States into supporting the United Nations campaign in Libya under false pretenses;
- No evidence that Secretary Clinton or her aides oversaw an operation at the State Department to destroy or scrub embarrassing documents; and
- No evidence that Secretary Clinton or any other U.S. official directed or authorized the U.S. Mission in Benghazi to transfer weapons from Libya to another country.
And Hillary hasn’t even testified before the committee yet.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Benghazi committee’s top Democrat, told CNN that “Republicans have been abusing millions of taxpayer dollars for the illegitimate purpose of damaging Hillary Clinton’s bid for president.”
He could just as easily have said the FBI is targeting Hillary at the expense of U.S. taxpayers by recovering secret State Department documents illegally stored on her home email server – before she wiped it clean.
Rep. Trey Gowdy is in hot pursuit of Hillary because, like the FBI, the evidence compiled by his committee compels him to believe wrongdoing has occurred.
It’s said that one of Capone’s knuckle-draggers recognized a Treasury agent that worked for Eliot Ness while walking the city’s streets and asked, “Everyone here in Chicago gets along good with each other. Why not you?”
After all, Chicago’s mayor, William “Big Bill” Thompson, provided passports of a sort to Capone’s gang, telling police to “extend the courtesies of this department to the bearer.”
Trey Gowdy might need to think outside the box in pursuing the criminal Clinton mob in the manner of accountant Frank J. Wilson. It’s time Republicans get their act together and rescind Hillary’s get-out-of-jail card.