Republicans Are Managing to Turn Their Criminality Into a Campaign Season Asset

A criminal record or ongoing legal trouble is the hot new trend for Republican candidates, but that’s not all. Republican candidates are eager for the endorsement of various top Republican criminals:

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to a felony count of lying to the FBI, has become an unexpected star on the Republican campaign trail, with a planned appearance May 6 in Montana for Senate candidate Troy Downing. He plans to shoot skeet, dine with donors and hold a rally in the state, where select VIPs will be offered a chance to take their picture with him.

A retired Army general, Flynn faces up to five years in prison after he admitted to making false statements about his contacts with Russian officials and his work for the government of Turkey. “It is time to stand up for our #American Heroes,” Downing wrote when he announced the event, shortly after Trump sent out a tweet suggesting again that the Justice Department had treated Flynn unfairly.

Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff who got Donald Trump’s first presidential pardon, is playing both sides of the coin: he’s running for Senate in Arizona and he’s lending his particular brand of corrupt racist Republican celebrity to fundraising efforts for other candidates.

Some Republican candidates, though, are holding up the criminal end themselves without any trouble: West Virginia’s Don Blankenship may only have spent a year in prison on a misdemeanor, but you have to give him extra credit for actually having caused the deaths of 29 people. Former Rep. Michael Grimm is trying to make a comeback after pleading guilty to felony tax fraud and admitting to other violations. And to hear them—like Arpaio—tell it, they were victims of political persecution by the Obama administration. Because coal miners’ lives shouldn’t matter, apparently, and admitting that you hid nearly $1 million in revenue from the government makes you a political prisoner.

That’s the Republican way: vicious consequences for everyone else, no accountability for themselves, ever.

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