The Corruption In Air America, Update VIII


It seems that Al Franken made a few comments on the air at Scare America that Brian from the The Radio Equalizer details:

After a detailed analysis of Al Franken’s recent public Air America scandal comments, it’s clear he may owe Nealon one, for stealing his act.

That’s because slipped into Franken’s rambling set of excuses over why he and Air America are not responsible for $875,000 in taxpayer funds, diverted from a Bronx-based community center, a key admission is made.

Take a look at this snippet, with a full Radio Equalizer-produced transcript below, (bold emphasis mine):

And he uh, borrowed (laughter) $875,000 from, I don’t know why they did it, and I don’t know where the money went, I don’t know if it was used for operations (softer, faster), which I imagine it was.

Care to elaborate on this, Mr. Franken?

That’s a big point to bury in your public statement.

Does that mean you were paid with public money, intended for an inner-city community center?

For two weeks, we’ve been cautioned to be careful about assuming the $875,000 actually went into Air America’s account, funding network operations.

And along comes Franken himself, making it appear to be true!

All in the magic style of Mr. Subliminal.

Don’t you feel you’ve a moral obligation to get to the bottom of this, Mr. Franken? Why not be above-board, rather than misleading and evasive?

Certainly seems like he knows a bit more about where the funds went to in the organization, like into his paycheck. He has the full transcript and a link to the audio on his blog.

Then you have the Washington Times today:

A high-ranking executive siphons off government money intended for inner-city children. The company tries to wash its hands of the problem. Where is the New York Times to cover the story? Where are Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to demand money and an apology?

We?re talking about Air America?s emerging charity scandal. Liberals wish it would go away. It won?t, not least because over the weekend it emerged that New York state attorney general Eliot Spitzer has opened an investigation. Like the New York City Department of Investigation, his office wants to find out what happened to the more than $800,000 in tax dollars for inner-city children and the elderly that were apparently funneled through Air America by a former executive.

…The people who purport to stand up for the little guy just aren?t doing it. They have ignored Air America?s apparent receipt of money for inner-city children. This suggests that where the perpetrators are other liberals, the rules don?t apply.

Still no sign of the NYT or the rest of the MSM.

The Captain weigh’s in on the fact that Piquant is actually the same company as Progress Media minus two characters: (First reported by Macho Nachos)

Air America Radio did not start out with Evan Cohen, as Piquant and Franken convenienly suggest. It started out with a man named Sheldon Drobny, a wealthy Chicago investor who wanted to build a leftist media empire and settled on radio to start it. Front Page Magazine told the story at the netlet’s inception:

The idea to create a ?liberal? radio network ? as if National Public Radio, ABC, NBC, CBS and the other left-leaning networks were insufficient ? came from Chicago businessman Sheldon Drobny, who said he was willing to invest $10 million in the venture. In 2003 he created AnShell Media as home for this enterprise and hired Atlanta broadcast veteran Jon Sinton as its chief executive officer.

Drobny and his wife Anita started a holding company called AnShell to manage the effort. However, Sheldon Drobny ran into a buzzsaw when National Review’s Byron York reported on Drobny’s rehashing of Lyndon LaRouche conspiracies on his own website, Drobny compared George Bush to Adolf Hitler on a number of occasions and regurgitated LaRouche’s hallucinations of ties between the Bush family and German Nazis.

As a result of the fallout from York’s article, Drobny sold most of his interest in AnShell later that same year to a new consortium comprised of himself and his wife, Evan Cohen, Rex Sorenson, and Cohen’s college classmate David Goodfriend, who brokered the initial meetings between the Drobnys and Cohen. If David Goodfriend sounds familiar, it may be because Goodfriend served in the Clinton White House as an assistant press secretary. The new holding company was christened Progress Media, and its president remained Jon Sinton.

In 2004, the landscape changed again. By June, Progress had run out of cash after less than two months on the air and had lost airplay in Los Angeles and Chicago due to its inability to pay its bills. In a series of tense meetings, the other principles in Progress decided to force out Evan Cohen and Rex Sorenson, who had allegedly misled the others on the financial state of the enterprise.

Now here’s where the Piquant derives the idea of “previous ownership”.

The Drobnys and other investors forced Cohen and Sorenson to give up their voting stock and depart. They then formed Piquant Media, which the Chicago Tribune reported in detail on June 19, 2004 (via Wizbang):

The investors in Air America Radio, the liberal talk radio network that launched in March, are restructuring the company to free it of any obligations incurred by ousted chairman and founding investor Evan Cohen. The investors, including Highland Park couple Sheldon and Anita Drobny and Air America Chief Executive Doug Kreeger, formed a new corporation, Piquant LLC. They plan to use the new entity to purchase the assets of Air America from Progress Media and RadioFree America, two related companies that own and operate the network.

“We have an asset purchase agreement we’ve entered into,” said Norman Wain, another investor. “Progress Media and RadioFree America are selling all of their assets to Piquant.”

Anita Drobny will be chairwoman of the board of the new company, according to people familiar with the deal. The purpose of the transaction is twofold: to eliminate Cohen and his partner Rex Sorensen’s shares in the company, and to insulate the cash-strapped network from any debt or other obligation that Cohen may have incurred.

Note that the ownership of Piquant LLC remains essentially the same as Progress, just without Cohen or Sorenson. The Drobnys still remain the big backers and now control the board; Jon Sinton remains with the company as president of programming; Doug Kreeger remains with the company as an investor. The notion that the asset sale changed management and ownership significantly is a mirage, a smokescreen to avoid Progress’ debt and obligations and to allow Air America to free itself of the taint of Cohen’s alleged deeds.

So you have the same owners bilking the Gloria Wise Boys & Girls Club for close to a million bucks and the NYT still has nothing to say about it. No bias there huh?

Check out John In Carolina who is attempting to get his local paper to report about this scandal, with little success.

Also Check out Okie On The Lam, Michelle Malkin, Cheat Seeking Missiles, & Macho Nachos for more on the continuing saga of those compassionate liberals.

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