History Repeats Itself

In 2004, Barack Obama was campaigning to become a U. S. Senator from Illinois. After he opponent, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race, Barack Obama easily won. What happened?

According to a Slate Magazine article from June 23, 2004:

Records from the 1999 divorce of Illinois Senate candidate Jack Ryan were unsealed Monday, and the revelations contained therein are spooking some of his supporters. The documents contain allegations from his ex-wife, actress Jeri Ryan, that her then-husband had a predilection for taking her to raunchy sex clubs. Both Ryans opposed the unsealing of the divorce records. Why was the court permitted to overrule their wishes?

Because the First Amendment rights of media organizations generally supercede the privacy rights of litigants, since the American legal system favors transparency in all court proceedings. In the Ryan case, the Chicago Tribune and a Chicago TV station sued in Los Angeles (where the divorce proceedings took place) to unseal the records. In keeping with prior rulings nationwide, the court concluded that the public’s right of access outweighed whatever emotional distress the unsealing might cause.

The records were extremely embarrassing to Jack Ryan, and he dropped out of the race.

Fast forward to 2012. Yesterday Fox News reported:

DNC delegate and partisan Democrat lawyer Gloria Allred attended the “30 Days to Victory” Obama fundraiser at the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles on October 7th.

…Now, two weeks later Allred is spearheading an “October surprise” targeting Mitt Romney just days before the election.

Allred is looking to unseal testimony that the GOP presidential candidate gave in the divorce case of Staples founder Tom Stemberg. Staples was founded with seed money from Romney’s firm, Bain Capital and Stemberg is a Romney surrogate. Allred appeared in court today with ex-wife Maureen Stemberg.  Many are wondering if there is any coordination between the Obama campaign and Gloria Allred, considering the relationship involved…

The testimony in question revolves around the fact that Ms. Stemberg was not told that Stapes planned to go public three years after the divorce  (Ms. Stemberg sold her Staples stock before that event–not realizing the increase that would come). The court document points out that the plan to go public was not a definite plan and that there was no way to know when and if it would happen.

The Weekly Standard posted the 1994 document that allowed the original divorce agreement to stand. It concludes that Ms. Stemberg did not prove “fraud, culpable nondisclosure, duress, coercion or undue influence.

Evidently President Obama’s approach to dealing with campaign opponents has not significantly changed over the years.


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