Saturday, May 8, 2004

There can be little doubt that legal actions against Rush Limbaugh are politically motivated. The radio commentator with 20 million listeners is one of the most able communicators of conservative political ideas in America. It is hard to imagine that the historic Republican takeover of Congress in 1994 would have happened without Mr. Limbaugh articulating the virtues of smaller government day in and day out over the airwaves. It is no surprise that liberals would sink to any level to try to silence such an important conservative voice. But the evidence against Mr. Limbaugh’s accusers is not merely circumstantial. The case they have made and how they have made it exposes the whole prosecution as a partisan witchhunt.

Item of evidence No. 1 against the prosecution is the fact that West Palm Beach State Attorney Barry Krischer had a policy against prosecuting those with addictions and in the past had always focused on dealers and providers who fed the habits of others. As Sam Dealey explains in the cover story of the May issue of the American Spectator, Mr. Krischer repeatedly assured Mr. Limbaugh’s attorney that the broadcaster was not a target for prosecution. The prosecutor had all the details on Mr. Limbaugh’s case and didn’t move on it.

That all changed after Mr. Limbaugh’s housekeeper sold a story about her boss’s pill problem to the tabloids. Once the private pains of the famous conservative were public, liberals mobilized and bombarded the prosecutor’s office with demands that he take down their political enemy. Mr. Krischer, a Democrat up for re-election this year, obviously sees sinking Mr. Limbaugh as a stepping stone to higher places in the state and national Democratic establishment.

The legal case is also shaky. As Mr. Dealey explains, Mr. Limbaugh was never caught doing anything illegal. He was never busted with illegally obtained prescription drugs in his possession or caught in a dragnet during any alleged illegal purchase of prescription drugs. The only original witnesses to back a legal case against him were his housekeeper, who has made a lot of money peddling the tale around the media, and her husband, who has a previous conviction for cocaine trafficking and other drug-related convictions that put him in prison for six-and-a-half years. These two witnesses, it is important to add, also tried unsuccessfully to blackmail Mr. Limbaugh for $4 million.

Mr. Krischer’s opportunistic binge hasn’t let a lack of facts and a wealth of compromised witnesses get in the way of his pursuit of a high-profile target. He even resorted to legally dubious means to try to dig up evidence. Specifically, he got search warrants for Mr. Limbaugh’s medical records from his doctors without notifying Mr. Limbaugh — a serious breach of the privacy of the suspect. When this didn’t work, the prosecutor’s office leaked that Mr. Limbaugh’s attorney was scrambling to cut a plea bargain, an allegation that wasn’t true but that nonetheless gave the impression to the public that the celebrity was in trouble and needed a deal to try to avoid serious criminal penalties. The Florida Attorney General, the Florida State Bar Association and the ACLU have criticized the prosecution’s handling of the case.

It is important to note that, to this day, no charges have been filed against Mr. Limbaugh. A humbled man, he went on air and explained his addiction to his millions of fans. Then he checked into a rehabilitation clinic to address his problem. He never blamed anyone else for his predicament and is rebuilding his life and career. That is what society is supposed to want from people who confront drug problems. If there weren’t political motivations to this case, it would have been dropped a long time ago.

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