Joe Conason's Journal

A right-wing friend of Paula Jones and Ollie North pleads guilty to child pornography. Plus: The most intriguing segment in that Santorum interview.

Published April 24, 2003 3:39PM (EDT)

Who let the dogs out?
In the uproar over Rick Santorum's remarks, many if not all of us seem to have missed the most intriguing segment of the interview that created the controversy. He didn't merely compare homosexuality with incest, polygamy and pederasty. He made explicit comparisons with bestiality as well, understandably startling the AP reporter who had innocently asked whether the Pennsylvania Republican would outlaw gay sex:

Santorum: In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That's not to pick on homosexuality. It's not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be. It is one thing. And when you destroy that you have a dramatic impact on the quality --

AP: I'm sorry, I didn't think I was going to talk about "man on dog" with a United States senator, it's sort of freaking me out.

Santorum: And that's sort of where we are in today's world, unfortunately. The idea is that the state doesn't have rights to limit individuals' wants and passions. I disagree with that. I think we absolutely have rights because there are consequences to letting people live out whatever wants or passions they desire. And we're seeing it in our society.

AP: Sorry, I just never expected to talk about that when I came over here to interview you.

Who let the dogs out, Part 2
While we're on the subject of the conservative erotic imagination, today's Washington Post brought news of Richard Delgaudio, a longtime right-wing fundraiser and activist known, among other things, for his cameo role in the Paula Jones case. From now on he will be known as a producer of child pornography, having pleaded guilty to one count in exchange for probation and a fine. The specific charges involve "sexually explicit photographs of a 16-year-old girl -- a single mother and high school dropout," brought to the Deluxe Plaza Motel in Baltimore by the 50-year-old Delgaudio and paid "by the hour for photo shoots."

Delgaudio's lawyers, who include the prominent conservative Bruce Fein, said that he "acknowledges the acute moral shortcomings of his conduct and he will continue intense self-examination, and professional and spiritual counseling." He also plans to donate $5,000 to help "young mothers in great need," according to the Post.

That abject plea represents a change from last fall, when Fein and the rest of Delgaudio's legal team were trying to have the original charges against him dismissed because of alleged "police misconduct." The Baltimore Daily Record reported that the Delgaudio attorneys accused the cops of targeting their client and his photo subjects in a manner that "shocks the conscience," saying that Baltimore police officers had committed "squalid and nauseating" crimes "too reminiscent of the Gestapo to permit of constitutional toleration."

Every conservative turns into a civil libertarian when the cops come knocking. In defending Delgaudio, Fein claimed that "every shred of evidence was tainted by Fourth Amendment violations, and thus a trial would be chimerical." Now, having smeared Baltimore's finest, Delgaudio won't seek a trial, and his lawyers are saying he's sorry.

That's all very nice, but his sudden contrition may not provide much comfort to the far-flung suckers who have supported this scumbag with millions in direct-mail donations over the past three decades. Delgaudio literally brought Paula Jones to public attention in 1994. That was when one of his fundraising fronts, the "Legal Affairs Council," paid her travel and hotel expenses to appear at the Consevative Political Action Committee conference in Washington, where she gave a brief account of the indignities she had allegedly suffered years before. Earlier, Delgaudio had raised money for the defense of that other right-wing martyr, Oliver North.

It was a very good business. According to the Post, the Virginia-based Legal Affairs Council reported $2.6 million in revenues to the IRS in 2001. He is also listed as chairman and director of the United States Intelligence Council and president of National Security Center Inc., two very official-sounding outfits that probably separated more than a few gullible wingers from their money with alarms about black helicopters and the Panama Canal. Last year, Delgaudio co-chaired an event called the "Western Conservative Conference" in Southern California, co-sponsored by the Washington Times, Christian Voice, Richard Viguerie's, the ultra-right California Republican Assembly, Larry Klayman's Judicial Watch, Reed Irvine's Accuracy in Media, and Morton Blackwell's Leadership Institute.

Funnily enough, the "conference chaplain" was none other than Rev. Lou Sheldon, president of the Traditional Values Coalition and America's leading scourge of pornography, indecency, obscenity and everything else Richard Delgaudio represents. How embarrassing.

Still more ironic, to return for a moment to Santorum's pet peeve, is the current occupation of the perp's brother, Eugene Delgaudio, who also serves as an elected supervisor in Loudoun County, Va. Eugene Delgaudio currently runs yet another official-sounding direct-mail chute called "Public Advocate of the United States," which solicits money from rubes worried about "radical homosexuals" thwarting "God's will."

Asked about his brother's guilty plea, Eugene claimed ignorance and said, "It doesn't sound like him."
[8:39 a.m. PDT, April 24, 2003]

For your regular Joe, bookmark this link. To send an e-mail, click here.

By Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------