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AIR DEADBEAT: THE SAGA CONTINUES

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By Michelle Malkin  •  August 1, 2005 07:10 AM

*this post will stay on top for the morning with rolling updates. scroll down for new, non-Air America related posts below.*

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Air America Radio and its left-wing acolytes hoped the loan scandal would go away, but there continues to be growing interest in AAR’s ever-evolving financial woes.

Air America’s pom-pom squad at the New York Times remains silent, but the New York Sun‘s David Lombino advances the funny money story considerably this morning, following last week’s blogswarm kicked off by Brian Maloney, followed here, amplified by the Washington Times editorial board, and picked up by Fox News’ Brit Hume ; CNN’s Inside Politics political producer Abbi Tatton and blog reporter Jacki Schechner; and the New York Post.

According to Lombino’s special report in the Sun:

The top executive at a Bronx youth organization said yesterday that the former director of Air America Radio received more than $800,000 in loans for himself and the radio network from the nonprofit organization while serving as its development director.

Some of the transfers, according to the president of the Bronx-based Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club organization’s executive committee, Jeannette Graves, occurred when the development director, Evan Montvel Cohen, who for a time served simultaneously as the liberal radio network’s director, appealed to the organization for two loans worth $35,000. Another member of the executive committee said Mr. Cohen told the executive director of the organization that he needed the money to pay for chemotherapy for himself and other medical expenses for his ill father.

Ms. Graves said that Mr. Cohen also received another $213,000 loan for Air America in a check that was approved without her authorization and stamped with an imprint of her signature, and that the club wired more than $400,000 to him without her knowledge…

Ms. Graves said Air America has agreed in writing to pay back the full amount of more than $800,000 in installments over the next two years. It is unclear whether the funds allegedly obtained from Gloria Wise were ultimately received or spent by Air America.

Questions for Air Deadbeat (hat tip to William Teach for the nickname):

1) Why don’t Air America radio execs make it clear, once and for all, exactly how much they have received from Gloria Wise and how much, if any, Piquant has repaid to date?

2) Has the liberal radio network received any other loans from any other non-profit organizations?

3) If so, how much was received and how much, if any, has Piquant repaid?

Hugh Hewitt pursues the nonprofit angle and asks where meddling New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is when you need him. Wizbang dissects AAR’s statements. Politburo Diktat notes pathetic attempts by some lefty bloggers to debunk the burgeoning scandal. Brian Maloney highlighted the lib backlash against him and has more here.

BoreAmerica, which has been tracking Air America’s woes since March 2004, has created a news ticker for all the latest updates.

Jim Treacher e-mails his response to the scandal:

“Embezz[le]ment and the Embezzling Embezzlers Who Embezzle.”

Why do I suspect that WON’T be the title of Franken’s next book?

Al? Janeane? Anyone? Anyone?

***
In light of this latest mess, the following stories highlighting Air Deadbeat’s ongoing financial troubles and dubious funding schemes are worth revisiting:

– The Wall Street Journal reported on the radio network’s shaky finances. HBO’s documentary, “Left of the Dial,” had the inside view.

– Stephen Bainbridge examined Air America: The Corporate Law Aspects last June, right after Piquant purchased Air America’s assets from the previous owners:

[T]this transaction smacks of an effort to hinder Air America’s creditors, which is decidedly not a good thing. Since it appears likely, based on the WSJ article, moreover, that the selling entities were de facto insolvent at the time of the transfer, the probability that a court would find a fraudulent transfer goes up significantly. The sellers will have to show that the selling entities received fair value and that the transaction had economic substance above and beyond merely stiffing their creditors.

Another option for the creditors would be to seek to pierce the corporate veil of the selling entities to hold their owners liable. Since the purchasing entity was owned by most of the same investors as the selling entities (another factor that will weigh in favor of finding a fraudulent transfer, by the way), the creditors may be able to recover from the individual investors….

Lowell Ponte scrutinized Air America/Progress Media’s complex legal arrangements, radio network distribution deals, and lack of transparency in March 2004 and concluded on a prescient note:

One test of its liberal integrity will be whether, and how sharply and often, Air America Radio voices criticism of Democrats up for election. Another will be whether this network opens its books so that America can see which wealthy and powerful special interests, foreign and domestic, are bankrolling it – reportedly to the tune of $30 to $100 million. Liberals demand such disclosure of other corporations, and so a network that declares itself liberal should set an example of openness.

Odds are that this network will have no sacred cows, but it will have lots of sacred bull.

***
Update: Ed Morrissey observes…

Now we have potential wire fraud, forgery, and fraud by deception, and probably a host of other potential charges against Mr. Cohen for his actions with Gloria Wise and Air America. Ms. Graves also tells the New York Sun that AA has agreed to pay back $800K over the next two years, not just the $480K originally noted by the Bronx News. Fortunately, Gloria Wise remained solvent, despite the wording in Piquant Media’s earlier statements which tended to suggest otherwise.

Clearly, though, AA did not pay a dime back before this investigation broke open. Nor did they agree to pay back the illegal transfers immediately, which again underscores their fragile economic status. They still have to meet that payroll, including that of their stars, who apparently don’t mind taking their money ahead of what’s owed to the poor kids, elderly, and Alzheimers patients served by Gloria Wise…

…Air America had better get out in front of this, and its supporters should stop blaming the blogs for AA’s miscreancy and demand that AA resolve the issue forthwith. Two years of dragging out payments for stolen money means two years and more of albatross-dragging for an enterprise that cannot afford any more baggage than it already has.

***
Update II: The Conservative Outpost points to the tax shenanigans of Air America founders and wealthy Dem donors Sheldon and Anita Drobny.

***

Previous:

The Air America loophole
Air America is scrambling
Air America: Don’t blame us
Air America: Stealing from poor kids?!

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Categories: Air America, Al Franken

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