The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Mankato Free Press Editor's Blog

November 5, 2013

News & Comment: SAC Capital gets sacked; Sex offender politics

A New York Times report that is getting a lot of play in front pages around the country including at the Star Tribune suggests a sea change in how the U.S. Department of Justice will prosecute financial crime.

The piece about the guilty plea of SAC Capital hedge fund suggests the department is not settling for civil SEC fines and the like but going for those who may think they are "too big to jail." Eight traders face criminal indictment. The firm itself pleaded guilty and will pay a $1.2 billion fine. Experts note this is a serious change in Justice Departmenty policy, a Justice Dept. that last criminally prosecuted Michael Milken of junk bond fame in the 1980s.

That was the last time a big Wall Street firm was criminally prosecuted. The Times piece suggest Justice Department is not done, hinting that SAC Capital's owner billionaire Steven A Cohen himself may be a target.

This will be an interesting case to watch. Apparently the Justice Department has been a little gun shy of prosecuting big firms given the history. When it prosecuted Enron accounting firm Arther Anderson, the company shutdown and laid off 28,000 workers.

It's a twisted kind of thinking -- delay prosecution of criminals to save jobs -- but it was the way it went apparently. What's significant about the SAC case is that it was started under a Republican Justice Department and brought to fruition under a Democratic one.

Dayton, Democrats wade into sex offender political swamp

Another political issue sure to remain in the forefront will be the recent spat or disagreement between Gov. Mark Dayton and Attorney General Lori Swanson over the release of a sex offender from the states's program.

The Star Tribune story goes into great detail and offers previously undisclosed information and emails between the parties it obtained through the state's open records law.

The front page Sunday story in Strib was like shooting fish in the proverbial barrel for GOP gubernatorial challenger Kurt Zellers, who took off after the Democrats on cue. PIM story.

I completely understand the dilemma with these sex offenders. The state runs the risk of being forced by the feds to, in a worst case scenario, let many of them out without condition. But it seems even those who are deemed "ready" to move back into a halfway house, 24-controlled setting have horrendous records.

There's just no way to sugarcoat any of it. And there is no way to win this kind of political battle. Unfortunately, the fires have been stoked and it won't be an easy one for Dayton and the Democrats to get away from.






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