- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 10, 2005

Al Franken appears to be caught in a fib — a “lying lie,” he might call it — about Air America’s loans-from-children scandal.

To his employers’ credit, Air America is seeking to put the scandal behind it: On Thursday, the network wired the remaining $825,000 it “borrowed” from the Gloria Wise Boys and Girls Club in the Bronx to the club’s lawyers. Air America’s parent company, Piquant LLC, had initially denied responsibility for the total of $875,000 in questionable transfers, claiming a previous owner was liable. But the negative publicity from nearly wrecking a taxpayer-subsidized center for children and the elderly appears to have shamed it into paying the money back.

A month ago Al Franken claimed ignorance of the transfers. “I didn’t know anything about this until late last week,” he told Air America listeners on Aug. 8. The network’s brass echoed this: Air America CEO Danny Goldberg told the New York Sun this week that the “on-air talent” has “never had any responsibility for this loan.” This seemed plausible at the time, since no one expects the talent to be arranging finances, so in our Aug. 3 editorial on the subject we gave Mr. Franken a pass.

Regrettably, it appears we shouldn’t have. In light of documents that surfaced last week, it looks to be the case that as of November 2004, and possibly earlier, Mr. Franken knew the amount of money, the money’s origins and the dates the transfers occurred. This came to light after a settlement agreement between former and current owners of Air America — a document which details the Gloria Wise transfers — was leaked to Michelle Malkin and Brian Maloney, who promptly posted the document on their Web sites. The document shows that Mr. Franken signed off on the settlement, and did so in the presence of a notary public, no less.

As any reader of this document can figure out, the Gloria Wise Club gave Air America a large sum of money. In a section titled “AAR Liabilities,” the document notes “$875,000, claimed by the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club,” of which $167,000 was transferred in late 2003 and another $708,000 was transferred in March 2004.

Mr. Franken’s signature appears on a page stamped by State of New York Notary Public Wallis Northworth in which Mr. Northworth attests that Mr. Franken signed the document in his presence.

Claims that Mr. Franken was unaware of the particulars fly in the face of a clause in the document that states each signatory “has read this Agreement and understands its terms.” Mr. Franken has made a career playing gotcha. The scandal involves the funnelling of tax dollars intended for children to fund a failing partisan radio venture. His prevarications look much like what he criticizes in others.

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