Power trips

By Joseph Farah

Nine days after she was named president of Fisk University, former Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary had to be escorted off a commercial airliner and questioned by the FBI about her abusive behavior on a flight from Nashville to Washington.

Apparently, O’Leary wanted to get off the plane as it waited on the tarmac for more than an hour after being diverted to Richmond because of storms.

The crew told airport police O’Leary, 67, was “getting loud and abusive” and had to be physically restrained at one point.

O’Leary merely issued a statement the next day, brushing the whole matter off: “I regret the unfortunate misunderstanding that occurred last evening. The situation was resolved. At no time was I rude or disrespectful to anyone. I answered all the questions that were asked and resumed my journey.”

That was a month ago – and that was apparently the end of the story.

I wonder if you or I had found ourselves in a similar situation if we would have been so fortunate.

Hazel O’Leary was Bill Clinton’s energy secretary. And despite throwing a temper tantrum on an airliner during a time of heightened security, she gets a pass.

What should we expect? If Sandy Berger is not going to be held accountable for stealing highly classified papers from the National Archives by stuffing them down his pants, why should we ever expect to prosecute any wrongdoer again – particularly a politically connected wrongdoer?

Let me tell you about my own experience with Hazel O’Leary. Fisk University doesn’t know what it is getting itself into with the hiring of this ego-tripping power abuser.

Back in her days as energy secretary, O’Leary would abuse her office by offering government contracts for those who would play political ball with Bill Clinton and threaten those who got out of line with cutting off the gravy train.

My own personal experience with O’Leary came in 1995 when she personally applied the most heavy-handed political pressure imaginable to a donor to my non-profit investigative reporting center. She told the contributor, someone whose company relied on federal contracts for millions in revenue every year, that if he gave any more money to the Western Journalism Center those contracts would be in jeopardy.

Why was O’Leary concerned about the center? Because it was involved in a long-term, high-profile investigation of Clinton administration corruption – including the president’s untoward personal and political connections to hostile foreign intelligence agents.

That’s just my personal experience. I would have to assume that O’Leary and her minions were corrupt to the core if they would stoop to such tactics. How many other instances of cover-up and abuse of power must she have been responsible for?

O’Leary should have been booted out of office for that kind of abuse. She should have been tried and convicted of abusing her authority. But the Clinton administration had a great record at one thing – keeping its political hatchet men and women from paying any price for breaking the law.

But that little story told me all I needed to know about the character of Hazel O’Leary. And the confirmation came when I read about her abusing flight attendants on that commercial airliner.

We’ve got a problem in America because we allow the elite to get away with murder. We have two standards of justice in this country – one for the politically connected and the other for the rest of us.

Personally, I think it would do Hazel O’Leary and her ilk a lot of good to be forced to sit patiently on the tarmac for many more hours as the rest of the traveling public is occasionally forced to do because of weather conditions and other problems.

This woman is reckless, dangerous, self-absorbed, out of control.

I predict Fisk University is going to be sorry it ever chose her to lead the institution. I don’t know if her tenure there will result in scandalous headlines. But I do know there will be directors who rue the day they ever voted to give her the appointment.