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LEGAL VIEW WITH ASHLEIGH BANFIELD
Pay to Play, Washington Style; Police Release Bieber Mug Shot
Aired January 23, 2014 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN: Now a CNN investigation into politics, money, and influence. Some call it the extortion game. They have a name for it. Made all the more shocking because the so-called extortionists are the politicians that write the laws, make the rules, and as you're about to hear, game the system for their own political gain. It's all perfectly legal.
Keeping them honest, here's CNN Drew Griffin.
JOHN HOFMEISTER, FORMER CEO, SHELL OIL USA: We talk about corruption in third-world countries. In this case the corrupters have written the law to make it legal to the corruptees. I consider that atrocious in the name of democracy.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What has former Shell Oil president, John Hofmeister so worked up is what many in this town simply call business as usual. It's not only that money buys influence, it's also pay up or else. It sounds cynical, but just look around and you see it everywhere. Like this typical Thursday morning, it's just after 7:00 a.m., and already the rush for the morning money is on. This is a breakfast fund-raiser for Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott. Want to contribute? It will cost you. The invitation says it's $2500 to get in. Want a picture with the governor? That will cost you $5,000. The host, the Principe Group (ph). Governor Scott is in D.C. on the business of raising money. When done, he'll then race across town to another fund-raiser. It's all pouring into his political action committee, a PAC. Political action committees are one of the main ways politics gets paid for. From facts, money flows to Campaigns often through Washington where politicians always seem to have a fund-raiser underway.
Down the street this restaurant will hold four fund-raisers in the next 90 minutes. The man hurrying past the camera is Utah Democrat Jim Matheson, the $5,000 a plate breakfast.
Around the corner air, steakhouse holding a breakfast fund-raiser for Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee Dave Camp of Michigan. For $5,000 the invitation says you'll be a star of his re- election campaign. On this Thursday morning, a dozen or so fund- raisers will be held before a single congressional vote is cast.
It's all status quo says author, Peter Schweizer, business shaking hands of anyone that wants to do business here.
PETER SCHWEIZER, AUTHOR: It's a feeding frenzy. We need to break the back of ability of politicians to leverage their position to extract donations.
GRIFFIN: If that sounds he's accusing politician, using power of their office to shake down constituents for cash, well, he is. He is a fellow at the conservative hover Institute and head of a non-profit group called Government Accountability Institute. He's also just written a book called "Extortion."
SCHWIEZER: The politicians, particularly the ones in leadership or the one that's powerful can make or break a company. Companies and other entities are put in a situation where they have to play ball. If they don't, bad things are going to happen.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Basically. Instead of buying votes, they are selling decisions.
SCHWIEZER: Yes. I think the model, the way we always think of influence market in D.C. Is that it's like bribery. You have outside interests that are bribing our politicians. That certainly can take place. The bigger problem is extortion, where the politicians identify wealthy companies or industries and mark them for extortion. They introduce pieces of legislation or threaten certain things that put those entities in a position to where they have to play ball.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): One person who knows all about this fully legal form of extortion is the former president of Shell Oil USA, John Hofmeister.
HOFMEISTER: I realize there's a price to participate in the political process. What I never knew what a huge price it was and how it was an endless process of continuously being hit up for money.
GRIFFIN: In 2008, when oil prices were rising, he was hauled from congressional hearing to hearing. Some members of Congress threatened to nationalize his industry. The hearings, all political theater, he says. When the camera lights turned off, some of the very members who criticized him in public for asking for money in private. He says you better pay.
HOFMEISTER: There's a huge price to not pay the price of the Campaign request.
GRIFFIN (on camera): Really?
HOFMEISTER: There's a price in terms of access, in terms of interest by the member. So if you haven't paid your price of entry, who are you? I've actually been asked by a member. Who are you because I've never met you before? Now that the election is over, you're going to ask for something. Where were you before the election? To me that puts a sickness in my stomach to realize it's all about the money.
GRIFFIN: What I think you're describing to me is wink and nod extortion. HOFMEISTER: It's pay to play. I agree with the word extortion. As harsh a word as that is, it's an atrocity nobody seems to care about because it goes on and on.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): We wanted to ask Utah Democratic Congressman Jim Matheson about fundraising at his breakfast and why he was raising money for his political action committee at the same time he was deciding to leave Congress. He wasn't interested. We also wanted to ask Michigan Congressman Dave Camp why he needed so much money. He raised nearly $4.5 million in his last campaign. His opponent raised $37,000. Camp has blown out his closest challengers for years. What's all this money for? No comment.
And then there's Florida Governor Rick Scott. Remember that first fund-raiser he was having? It was hosted by the Principe Group (ph), a company founded by former Veterans Administration Secretary Anthony Principe (ph). Two days before hosting this fund-raiser for the governor, the group gave $10,000 to Governor Scott's political action committee called "Let's Get to Work." Turns out the group did get to work in Florida where, in 2012, the group won a $1.8 million contract to stop the basis of military. Rick Scott wasn't interested in talking about the contracts, fundraising and doing work with the state.
RICK SCOTT, (R), GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: You'll have to talk to the "Let's Get to Work."
GRIFFIN: We did ask. We got our answer back in an e-mail from the Florida Republican party, which says, "The inference in your question is invalid and not worthy of a response. Governor Scott makes all decisions based on what is best for people of Florida, which will create jobs, careers and opportunities for citizens."
Drew Griffin, CNN, Washington.
BANFIELD: If you have a tip for Drew Griffin and the CNN investigation team, go to CNN.com/investigations.
An apparent sperm switch-up uncovered at a fertility clinic. A young woman finds out this former worker is her biological father. It may not have stopped with one family. It could impact up to a thousand. The LEGAL VIEW on the case coming up next.
BANFIELD: So I have an update for the on the Justin Bieber story. Things keep coming in to our offices. We got the second mug shot. The left picture, smiling Justin Bieber. Picture on the right, not smiling much. He now has two mug shots with the Miami-Dade Corrections Department. Congratulations, Justin. Here's what he's facing today. He has to be held eight hours from the time of his arrest. He was hauled in at 4:13 a.m. If you do the math, he could be released in about a half hour. That would be if he didn't have to have a bond hearing. It turns out he does. He's going to actually have a bond hearing before a Miami-Dade county judge. He's got nothing to appear before the judge in person. He's going to do an emphasis video link and appear before the judge via video link.
Paul Callan joins me on this.
Often times you don't hear about having to ask the judge for your bond. You post it, and you go. Why this video link?
CALLAN: It varies state to state how these dui arrests are handled. The term bond hearing doesn't necessarily mean you're in court. A judge is involved in the process. If it's a controversial case as this one will be, they're going to take no chances here. I'm sure that's why they're doing this. They certainly have the right to do this in a formal way, more than normal. This doesn't surprise me at all.
BANFIELD: Let me ask you what the police officers and investigators are up against now. This is not your garden variety dui. You've got a guy all over CNN now, probably a lot of other news channels too, all over the internet. Are they more worried they cross every "T" dot every "I" and not give this man a break you might otherwise give to someone else?
CALLAN: In terms of celebrities and how they're handled by the s system, a lot of people think if they're a celebrity they're going to get off easy. In fact in my own practice where I've represented celebrities over the years, they get handled in a different way. Cops and prosecutors are worried it will look like they're getting a special break. In the early stages of this case he's going to face tough treatment in court. That's why they're going to have the bond hearing. Obviously he can raise enough money legitimately to get out on a dui case.
BANFIELD: There's also reports he was throwing $75,000 in $1 in strip clubs, blanketing the floor with dollar bills. There's pictures on TMZ. At some point, when you have a 19-year-old kid who's constantly having run-ins with the neighbors, law, spitting allegedly, driving recklessly through a residential neighborhood where neighbors have to confront him or attacking a photographer. Prosecutors, I should say right off the bat, have not prosecuted because they don't have evidence. Where there's smoke, there's fire.
When we come back, we'll dig in more to what this young man could be facing. You think it's not serious? Think again. His entire career could be at stake possibly.
BANFIELD: Just want to update some of the breaking news we've been watching this morning as Justin Bieber prepares for a bond hearing set for between 1:00 and 1:30 this afternoon eastern time. And as his mug shots are released publicly for arrest on dui as well as resisting arrest and the allegation of drag racing in a residential neighborhood in Miami this morning. His associate, apparently who he was allegedly drag racing against, an associate driving a red Ferrari as Justin Bieber was driving a rented yellow Lamborghini. This is the young man arrested alongside of him. His name is Kalil Emir Sharif. We're told he is with Def Jam records. This is the young man allegedly drag racing in the red Ferrari against Justin Bieber. Both taken in this morning. A police officer said they've both been charged with the same thing, but as we're being told right now and I have the arrest complaint, the affidavit here, that Mr. Sharif has been charged with dui.
I want to bring in Dr. Drew, who is the utmost expert when it comes to celebrities and rehab.
He actually kind of wrote the show on it. Drew, when you first heard this allegation and it comes after many incidents where Justin Bieber's been involved with the police or been involved in some kind of malfeasance or accusations of it, what are your thoughts?
DR. DREW PINSKY, HOST, DR. DREW: Well, it actually started to come into focus that this seems to be a substance abuse disorder. Now we're seeing every consequence associated with using substances. It's not a lot different than Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto in that you've got to associate the using with the consequences. And if indeed the so- called prescription drugs that were found on him, both he admitted he was taking something and in his vehicle, were the usual combination that we see these days which is opiates and benzodiazepine. This is a medical illness that could be life ending. This is not just a teenager misbehaving. It's beginning to look like a substance use disorder. If it's the combination it appears to be, it is serious business.
BANFIELD: I want to remind our viewers as we talk about this uber celebrity, this remarkable recording sensation, this young Canadian who I think by the age of something like 12 or 13 was making international headlines, he's just 19, drew. We're not talking about a Lindsay Lohan who is age majority. We're not talking about grown- ups we essentially think would know better. We're talking about a kid not just breaking the law, he's also under age breaking the law.
PINSKY: Remember Lindsay at this age. It was the beginning of devolution. Very difficult to get into treatment and you add to that super star, how will this kid be treated? That's what frightens me about this situation. Which is the average Justin in the world who manifests these sorts of phenomenon, you'd say, hey, a family member, lawyer, would drag them in saying you're getting treatment. You would tell this kid he needs six months of focused structured intensive care. How does he do that? Where does he go? How do you get him to comply?
BANFIELD: Well, that's an excellent question because we've seen time and time again intransigent celebrities like Chris Brown who seem to flout all of these opportunities for probationary second chances, et cetera, are we learning anything about this? Is the justice system making the same mistake over and over when it comes to people like this?
PINSKY: Again, it's not really the justice system's problem. I have the only published data on celebrity because I have access to them. So they've been able to study several -- couple hundred. We've shown celebrity haves a higher incidence of risk to substances genetically. They have a higher incident of trauma and narcissistic liability. And that's a bad combination in the average person. If you add to that somebody with excessive power and the ability to manipulate their environment and keep sycophants around them and enablers and they can't sort of deflect consequences, it's usually the consequences that bring people to treatment. Unfortunately, I mean, look at all the celebrity deaths in the last ten years. It's all been substance related. It's all been prescription medication. My gravest fear for Justin Bieber is this prescription piece that we don't yet know what the details are, but that's what scares me the most.
BANFIELD: It's part of the allegations that it is pot smoking, drinking and prescription drug abuse.
Dr. Drew, thank you very much for your insight.
PINSKY: You bet.
BANFIELD: Listen, I want to make one quick note about this because the media usually gets excoriated for focusing a lot on these celebrities like Lindsay Lohan or those in trouble. Here's the deal. These young people are headed for a very difficult end. And it is us who feed off of their celebrity and buy their products and surround them sycophantically as dr. Drew said. Let me also say Elvis in his day were he to have gone so far astray on video and arrest would have made just as big headlines and we went live wall-to-wall when the Beatles touch down in this country. These are people we follow and people with special gifts that squander them. We're always concerned as to why that is, how it is and can we do anything about it. I want to make sure you tune in tomorrow night. We have a program called "Justin Bieber's Wild Ride," Friday night at 10:00 eastern right here on CNN. We'll also have continuing coverage throughout the day. The bond hearing's coming up just about hour or so from now.
Thanks for watching, everyone. See you again here tomorrow.