Image Credits: Ron Sachs/CNP.
I once called Carl Paladino an “ethics cement-head” and elected him to my Hall of Scoundrels. I’ve written about the man quite a bit over the years, mainly because he liked to use Roger Stone and Mike Caputo as his campaign advisers. Here’s an example:
Caputo is unique among the suspects in the Russia inquiry in that he’s the only one I know of who has persistently bragged over the years about having worked for the Kremlin. He got his start working to help Boris Yeltsin beat the odds and win reelection. Later on, he had a job burnishing the image of Vladimir Putin in the United Statees as an employee of Gazprom Media. Along the way, he never seems to have strayed too far from Roger Stone’s side, working with on a variety of trollish New York state campaigns, including the long-shot gubernatorial bids of Carl Paladino and Tom Golisano, and the takedown of attorney general Eliot Spitzer. It’s probably through Stone that Caputo made the acquaintance of Donald Trump and landed a job working as a senior communications adviser for his campaign.
Paladino isn’t particularly interesting in himself, even if you live in New York State where he’s at least somewhat relevant. But his connections are worth paying attention to because they’re always up to no good.
Here’s Paladino’s latest effort to get attention:
Carl Paladino once stated that he hopes Obama dies of mad cow disease, & called Michelle Obama a gorilla. Today Mr. Paladino decided to protest NY's social distancing policy, while another protester flaunted a confederate flag in the background. This isn't about Covid-19 folks. pic.twitter.com/30okxnXrLq
— 🇯🇲Black🇭🇹 Aziz 🇳🇬aNANsi🇹🇹 (@Freeyourmindkid) April 20, 2020
I think the point of that tweet is that racism plays a huge role in the social distancing protests, just as it did when the Tea Party suddenly arrived on the scene in 2009. That’s certainly true, but remember why Mike Caputo is in the news right now:
Health and Human Services Department Secretary Alex Azar confirmed Wednesday that former 2016 Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo will serve as the department’s new spokesperson, putting a vocal defender of President Donald Trump in a key messaging role.
“I’m delighted to have Michael Caputo join our team at @HHSGov as our Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, especially at this critical time in our nation’s public health history,” Azar tweeted.
Most of the reporting on this ridiculous hire focused on the fact that Secretary Azar was not in fact “delighted” to have a disreputable hack and congressional perjurer like Caputo thrust on him as a spokesperson. For example, this is from Politico:
The move is designed to assert more White House control over Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who officials believe has been behind recent critical reports about President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, according to two officials with knowledge of the move…
…The high-level move comes after a series of news reports that portrayed Azar as warning Trump about the pending Covid-19 pandemic in January but having the president and his aides dismiss his concerns. Trump on Sunday tweetedthat Azar “told me nothing until later,” appearing to refute those reports.
White House officials believe that Azar has been shaping favorable coverage of his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak and trying to shift blame for the administration’s mishandled response, said two officials with knowledge of the situation.
It’s really impossible to separate Carl Paladino and Mike Caputo. The two Buffalo natives have been thick as thieves for decades, and now we see one of them on the streets protesting social distancing while the other is installed as the spokesperson for the Department of Health & Human Services where his job is to make sure Trump doesn’t get held accountable for his handling of the Covid-19 outbreak.
This is the Roger Stone network at work.