August 17, 2007

Richardson Campaign Tripped Up By Brothel Allegations

Bill Richardson's presidential campaign had shown some signs of life over the last few weeks, perhaps enough to get onto the short list for Hillary's VP selection, but a new scandal may throw cold water on those hopes. A campaign organizer in Nevada has an outstanding felony warrant in California, and new revelations of his ties to brothels could embarrass the campaign even further:

One of Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson's top organizers in rural Nevada resigned Thursday after the campaign learned he had worked for a brothel and was wanted on a felony arrest warrant in California.

"We did not know about all of this," Richardson spokesman Josh McNeil said after the staffer's record was brought to the campaign's attention by The Associated Press. "We accepted his resignation today."

Kristian Forland, the campaign's eastern Nevada field director, is being sought by Los Angeles County authorities for failure to appear on four counts of writing bad checks. Forland also was arrested twice, once last year and again last month, in his home of Elko, Nev., on a similar bad check charge out of Las Vegas.

In both arrests, Forland posted bail and was released. It's not clear from court records if the case was resolved.

Forland also was investigated by Elko police after women working at Mona's Ranch, a legal brothel, complained he was shorting them on their pay. An investigator described Forland as "at best a manager of the property," according to a June 2006 police report obtained by the AP.

Forland claimed that he had nothing to do with running the brothel or dealing with the prostitutes. He says that he only oversaw the bookkeeping as part of an investment group that briefly owned the brothel. However, Nevada records show Forland as resident agent and officer for Mona's Ranch LLC for over two years, ending in October 2006, indicating that he held a significant position in the partnership that owned the brothel.

The primary season has had its oddities among campaign operatives. Rudy Giuliani's South Carolina campaign leadership suffered a blow when one of its members got arrested for trafficking in cocaine. One of John McCain's Florida team got accused of sexual misconduct. Now Richardson has an organizer with a felony warrant and a couple of years' experience in the prostitution business, which might make good training for handling Congress, but still looks bad on a campaign website.

In every cycle, pundits fret about whether the harsh public spotlight requires people to be so clean that it keeps good people from volunteering for government service. If this primary campaign is any measure, we have few worries on that score. If anything, we may need a brighter spotlight.


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Comments (6)

Posted by docjim505 | August 17, 2007 6:14 AM

Politics seems to attract scumbags. Look at Capitol Hill...

Posted by Bennett | August 17, 2007 7:01 AM

Okay, a little trouble keeping the old checkbook balanced, this I can forgive. But shorting the working girls on their pay? That's just evil.

Posted by jerry | August 17, 2007 8:25 AM

Putting the fraud charge aside, owning a legal house of prostituion in Nevada is not be an issue. However morally offensive it may be to me it is still a legal business in the State Nevada no different then primary legalized vice that Nevada is known for.

Posted by Not the Senator | August 17, 2007 8:27 AM

Rural Nevada Organizer?

C'mon? You can't get too much lower in an campaign than that. It probably would have cost the campaign more to do a background check than they were paying him.

Posted by rbj | August 17, 2007 8:32 AM

He's not a big player in the Richardson campaign, so I'm not going to attach this to his campaign (Richardson's cut and run strategy in Iraq is right off the bat why I would not support him)

I agree with Bennett, shorting the girls the money they earned is the worse part.

Posted by Adrian | August 18, 2007 1:27 PM

"eastern Nevada field director"

Didn't know there was anything in eastern Nevada...

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