Jim

Fear and loathing on the campaign trail, 2007

In Politics, Unfettered stupidity on August 31, 2007 at 2:12 am

Meanwhile, here’s a story you may have missed. It reads like a straight-laced, AP version of a chapter of one of Hunter S. Thompson’s books. One can imagine how he’d write it up:

Associated Press

BOSTON — Former Sen. Max Cleland has suspended his chief of staff after the man allegedly crashed a fundraiser on Martha’s Vineyard for presidential candidate John Edwards, then broke into a nearby Coast Guard station.

Michael Duga Jr., 31, of Coral Springs, Fla., was released on $2,500 bail after pleading not guilty Monday in Edgartown District Court to charges including marijuana possession and breaking into the Menemsha Coast Guard Station.

Background check?

Duga has an “extensive criminal history” in Florida, including carjacking and drug possession and dealing, according to a police report from the Chilmark police department on Martha’s Vineyard. Cleland, a Democrat from Georgia, said Wednesday that he put Duga on unpaid leave the day before and wasn’t
aware of Duga’s criminal record.

“I trusted him and he had a clean record, as far as I knew,” Cleland said. “But now some things are coming out.”

Reached Wednesday, Duga said, “I have the utmost respect for Senator Cleland and will continue to do so throughout his life.”

What the hell was he up to?

According to the police report, Duga was dropped off Friday at a fundraiser for
Edwards — a former U.S. senator from North Carolina — at the Chilmark home of Alex MacDonald. Duga told Chilmark police officer Blaze Montelo, who was working a traffic detail, that he was working with Edwards’ campaign committee. He showed a photo and card indicating he was Cleland’s chief
of staff. Duga worked a front table where people bought tickets for the fundraiser.

On Saturday morning, police were dispatched to the Menemsha Coast Guard Station, where they found Duga, whom the Coast Guard said entered the building without permission. Police said they later found marijuana in the
SUV Duga was using.

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