Stupid MSM tricks #1

If a recently elected Republican office holder waiting to be inaugurated were the subject of an expose that made him look like a crook taking advantage of mentally-disabled people, do you think the Washington Post would neglect to mention his party? Isn’t that the kicker?

Yet the Washington Post published an article of more than 4500 words on the sale of structured settlements – when someone receives payments spread out over time instead of a lump sum (generally, to protect that person from squandering the entire amount) -- and the questionable practices and oversight that have led to people receiving as little as 16 cents on the dollar of the real net present value, without ever mentioning that the dominant figure profiled as responsible was just elected as a Democrat to the Virginia House of Delegates. Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit points out this glaring omission.

Here is the case laid out by the WaPo without the big political reveal:

What [Terrence] Taylor had been selling, chunk by chunk, for pennies on the dollar, was a settlement that had a lifetime expected payout of $31.5 million. In numerous deals approved in Virginia courts over two years, Taylor sold everything owed to him through 2044 and was now broke and homeless.

How did this happen, Muller said he wondered as he picked through the detritus.

The hub of sales approvals

The answer to that question lay 250 miles south, along the southern maw of the Chesapeake Bay, inside the Portsmouth Circuit Courthouse. For more than a decade, this Virginia institution has operated much like an assembly line for the secretive industry of structured-settlement purchasing. Over the past 15 years, one lawyer has filed thousands of cases — far more than anywhere else in the state — at the courthouse, where almost all of them have been approved.

When four companies struck 10 deals with Terrence Taylor in two years, they hired Portsmouth lawyer Stephen E. Heretick. Nine of those deals were then assigned to now-retired Portsmouth judge Dean W. Sword, the authority tasked with deciding such cases. And Sword approved every one, putting five of the deals under seal.

In all, according to Taylor’s bank records and court documents, the burn survivor sold $11 million of his structured settlement — which had a present value of about $8.5 million — for roughly $1.4 million, or 16 cents on the present dollar. He has sued the companies, focusing on a South Florida firm named Structured Asset Funding, which did six deals with him.

That Taylor, who had received diagnoses of learning and emotional disabilities, could so quickly hemorrhage 30 years’ worth of income in deals approved in a courthouse he never visited is the result of Virginia’s failure to properly regulate and monitor an industry that makes tens of millions off some of the state’s most vulnerable residents, a Washington Post investigation has found.

Wow! Taking advantage of mentally and emotionally impaired victims sort of contrasts with the expressed political ideals of the Democrats, don ‘t you think? Isn’t that relevant? But not to the WaPo.

Over the past 15 years, Heretick has submitted the overwhelming majority of the state’s cases in Portsmouth, where he has a near monopoly on the legal work. Heretick, who was a Portsmouth City Council member between 2004 and 2012, won a seat in the House of Delegates in November.

Nowhere in the piece does the word “Democrat” appear.

Republicans have blasted Herrick not failing to note his party. From the Washington Pilot:

Republicans on Tuesday criticized Del.-elect Steve Heretick, a Democrat, for what they say is a lack of transparency in his litigation of structured settlements through the Portsmouth Circuit Court.

The Washington Post published a story Monday detailing the effects of a secretive industry in Virginia in which companies offer cash to people in exchange for money from lawsuits or settlements set to pay out over a future time frame. Virginia is one of 49 states that require county courts to determine whether a settlement-purchase deal is in the seller’s best interest, The Post reported.

The Post article identifies Heretick, a Portsmouth attorney and recently elected delegate, as the chief architect of thousands of deals between such companies and sellers in Virginia. He worked through the Portsmouth court with sellers statewide, which Republicans say is a symptom of Virginia’s weak regulation of the industry.

The WaPo once again proves the rule: If someone caught doing something bad is not identified by party, he or she is a Democrat.

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