Of the several women who accused Judge Roy Moore of sexual misconduct in the weeks leading up to his defeat in the special election to fill a U.S. Senate seat for Alabama last year, it was Leigh Corfman who stood out.
Corfman claimed, first to a reporter for the Washington Post and later in an interview with the Today Show, that Moore initiated a sexual encounter with her when she was just 14 years old. If so, his actions were felonious under Alabama’s law, punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years.
More than three months after that election, revelations or allegations continue to emerge of events behind the scenes during the campaign. Intriguingly, on March 23 the Washington Post
ran an explosive piece on the campaign, by Shawn Boburg and Dalton Bennett, saying that people affiliated with Moore’s efforts tried to discredit Corfman by paying her lawyer, Eddie Sexton, to drop her as a client and to make a public statement that he did not believe her story.
One of the central principles of legal ethics in the common law adversarial tradition is that a lawyer must zealously represent the interests of his client. This might fairly be described as the central principle. Sexton says he was offered $10,000 for actions that would have been a blatant violation of that rule.
Left Wing View
The left wing view was stated by a self-described “health advisor and advocate” named Nick Walden Poublon on twitter. Poublon said in all caps, THIS IS INSANE, and then added, “this is the MODERN GOP. There is no regard for the law, the legal process, anything.”
One twist in the story was/is that the people making the bribe, described as part of the Breitbart News organization, also offered Sexton the prospect of legal work for their boss, Steve Bannon. They apparently hoped and expected that he would be star-struck by that famous/notorious name. He wasn’t.
Some on the left find it amusing that bribe (both in monetary terms and with the vague Bannon connection throw in) seems so low-rent. A twitter denizen calling himself NJ Resister says “it’s like a knock-off John Grisham novel for cheapskates.”
Slate, meanwhile, a center-left online magazine, has used the occasion to look at the Big Picture politically and to describe the Republican Party as in the midst of a “special election losing streak.” That’s a story line that ties together Roy Moore with Pennsylvania’s losing Republican candidate Rick Saccone and ties them each to the upcoming special election in Arizona.
Right Wing View
One right wing take is that the “women who accused Roy Moore” have been suspiciously silent since the election, or suspiciously absent from the press. This shows (say the purveyors of this suspicion) that they have been “dropped” because they are no longer needed.
One venerable conservative institution, National Review, ran a lengthy discussion of the WaPo story, focusing on the tapes that back up Sexton’s claims. Sexton taped a phone call in which one of the men who had approached him with the bribe, followed up on it. In the conversation, Sexton says he doesn’t believe any statement he made about the reasons for dropping his client would be very credible. The man at the other end of the line, Gary Lantrip, replied, “What they’re saying, all they want to do is cloud something. They said if they cloud, like, two of them, then that’s all they need.”
The National Review discussion made no attempt to mitigate the offensiveness of such a bribe or to shed doubt on the WaPo story.
Indeed, one NR writer, Jonah Goldberg, recently tweeted, “Roy Moore is a horrible man and he attracted horrible people to his cause.” The hashtag he gave to that sentiment was #StateYourObviousOpinion.
A cynic might suggest that this is an instance of “old right wing press” happen to pass along news that may weaken competition from “new right wing press,” that is, Breitbart.