by John Hawkins | October 2, 2003 11:31 am
First off, Rush Limbaugh got in trouble Monday night for saying the following about Donovan McNabb,
“I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,” Limbaugh said. “There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.”
I didn’t weigh in on this yesterday because I had mixed feelings about the whole issue and besides, I generally don’t like to post about an issue things unless I have a strong opinion on the subject.
In this case, I thought that while what Rush said wasn’t racist in the least, I could certainly see how it could irritate people. Although it’s not exactly the same thing, it reminded me of back in the eighties when Isiah Thomas said, “If (Larry) Bird was black, he’d be just another good guy”. Although Thomas apologized and Bird didn’t seem to take any offense, it still grinded on my nerves back then and I can see how other people might feel the same way.
In any case, although I wouldn’t have said what Rush did there, I don’t think it was an offense that merited a resignation — especially since ESPN’s ratings were way up because of Rush.
However, I suspect that wasn’t why Rush really resigned anyway. My guess is that it had more to do with this story in the New York Daily News.
“Talk-radio titan Rush Limbaugh is being investigated for allegedly buying thousands of addictive painkillers from a black-market drug ring.
The moralizing motormouth was turned in by his former housekeeper – who says she was Limbaugh’s pill supplier for four years.
Wilma Cline, 42, says Limbaugh was hooked on the potent prescription drugs OxyContin, Lorcet and hydrocodone – and went through detox twice.”
There are a lot of seamy details in there and it’s likely that the Enquirer has even more dirt than the Post has released. I’ll be buying the Enquirer later today to find out.
But, the long and short of it is, Limbaugh’s housekeeper rolled over on him, she did wear a wire, and the New York Daily News confirmed there is a Palm Beach County investigation going on.
I was going to wait until Limbaugh got on the air today to hear his side of the story before I commented. However someone who caught the show yesterday said he’s not going to be on the air today. So I went to Rush’s page and perused this “non-denial denial”…
“I am unaware of any investigation by any authorities involving me. No governmental representative has contacted me directly or indirectly. If my assistance is required in the future, I will, of course, cooperate fully.”
While the fact that his housekeeper says she took a $120,000 in hush money from Rush and then turned around and went to the Enquirer and the police indicates there’s some malice involved here, there is likely some truth to the story or Rush would be publicly denying the drug allegations right now.
Interestingly enough, I ran across this post Google from back in 2001 which does seem to indicate Rush does have a history with Oxycontin…
“Rush Limbaugh (talk radio) talked about OxyContin at length today–maybe an hour of his 3-hour show. The talk was mostly about the abusers of the drug, and that it was a shame that the abuse affected people who really need it.”
Expect quotes from that show to turn up somewhere in the near future.
Assuming he’s guilty (and that’s of course not a given), Rush is going to have it tough for the next few weeks at least. While he should have to defend his actions in a court of law, I sincerely doubt that he’ll end up going to jail over a first offense involving painkillers like this. He will however probably end up going to a detox center somewhere and getting cleaned up which is something he tried and failed to do on his own twice according to the article. In the interim, he can get fill-in hosts to keep the show going and then once he’s clean, he can get back on the air. While this is certainly going to be a happy day for his enemies & an embarrassing day for Rush, he’ll recover. As G. Gordon Liddy and Oliver North could tell him, being in the middle of a big scandal doesn’t have to be a career ender. There are going to be a few dark days ahead for Rush until he gets past all this, but I certainly hope he keeps his chin up, cleans up, and then gets back on the radio…
***Update #1***: Tragically, this Sept 10, 2001 story from the LA Times could be relevant as well…
“A powerful and potentially addictive painkiller used by millions of Americans is causing rapid hearing loss, even deafness, in some patients who are misusing the drug, according to hearing researchers in Los Angeles and elsewhere.
So far, at least 48 patients have been identified by doctors at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles and several other medical centers who have treated patients with sudden hearing loss. The hearing problems appear to be limited to people who abuse Vicodin and other chemically comparable prescription drugs by taking exceptionally high dosages for several months or more, doctors said.
…(Vicodin is a combination of acetaminophen and hydrocodone and is also sold under the brand names Lorcet, Lortab and Hydrocet.)
***Update #2***: Here’s more on Vicodin & hearing loss…
“Knoll Pharmaceutical Co., the makers of Vicodin, added a hearing loss warning to the drug’s label in 2000, but it seems to have gone largely unnoticed. The FDA worked with the manufacturer on the wording of the warning. They plan no additional action, because hearing loss seems to be a very rare side effect that occurs only when the drug is used inappropriately.
Some doctors think the problem may be much more common that is currently believed. Because determining the cause of a person’s hearing loss is often difficult or impossible, doctors may not be making the connection between hearing loss and Vicodin. This situation is compounded by the fact that patients may be unwilling to reveal the extent of their painkiller use.”
***Update #3***: I spoke with Florida defense attorney Steven Casanova who has a lot of experience in dealing with Florida drug laws, and this is MUCH, MUCH, more serious than I originally thought.
He told me that if Rush was buying more than a few ounces of OxyContin or hydrocodone — we could be talking 15-20 pills here — he could be facing a conspiracy to traffic in a controlled substance charge. Mr. Casanova informed me that would mean Rush could be facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years. That’s despite the fact that this is his first offense and that the drugs would be for personal use.
However, NBC news reports that…
“CNN reported Thursday that sources close to the investigation that it did not identify said Limbaugh had turned up as a buyer of powerful painkillers but that he was not the target of the investigation.
Mike Edmondson, a spokesman for the Palm Beach County state attorney’s office, told The Associated Press early Thursday that his office could neither confirm nor deny that an investigation was under way.”
That’s a bit ambiguous, but it could indicate that they’re not planning to prosecute.
***Update #4***: According to a quote in this article (it costs $2.50 to view the whole thing) from the LA times, there is no link between Rush’s deafness and the painkillers he took.
“The doctors said Thursday that Limbaugh’s rapid hearing loss is not related to high doses of Vicodin or other painkillers, a phenomenon House Institute researchers have been studying and announced last month.”
Hmmmm….did they actually check for that or were they just assuming he wasn’t on painkillers? If they did test and Rush definitely wasn’t on painkillers back then, it would undercut the maid’s story. Unfortunately, there’s not enough info to go on at this point…
***Update #5***: Fox News has more on how Rush came to the attention of law enforcement…
“Newspaper reports alleged Limbaugh got the drugs from his housekeeper. But a source close to the investigation told Fox News that Limbaugh had other drug suppliers and could become a target of future criminal probe.
The investigation apparently began as a probe into the illegal sale of prescription painkillers in South Florida that targeted dealers. But later investigators came across Limbaugh through clues gathered in a bust a Palm Beach County in May, revealing him as a buyer
…The target of the current investigation apparently remains dealers in the south Florida area. The source told Fox News that Limbaugh was implicated by Cline and her husband David, and also by “other suppliers” whom the source did not name.
Asked about the culpability of Limbaugh in an investigation which did not target him, the source told Fox News that he could still face charges for having a large quantity of prescription painkillers without a prescription, but said no charges are imminent.”
***Update #6***: According to his website, Rush will be on the air tomorrow.
***Update #7***: From WorldNetDaily…
“The Daily News reported today, citing a law enforcement source, Limbaugh is expected to be questioned within days as part of a probe into former Florida pharmacist Louis Beshara. The paper said Beshara and his wife, Gloria, allegedly supplied drug dealers with thousands of prescription hydrocodone tablets.
A source familiar with the case told the New York paper Limbaugh could be targeted in Florida’s recent crackdown on illegal prescription drug peddling, and his fame will not save him.
“If the evidence is there, he could be charged,” the source told the paper.”
***Update #8***: I caught the opening of Rush’s show and predictably he was very vague about the drug issue. He called it an “emerging situation” and promised to give his audience all the details — maybe “more than we want to know” once he knows what’s going on.
Reading between the lines, Rush seems to be saying that if and when he doesn’t have to worry about being prosecuted in the Florida probe, he’ll explain what happened on the show. Given how serious the criminal side of this could be, that’s probably the best to approach it.
***Update #9***: WorldNetDaily provides what could be some good news for Rush…
“(T)he South Florida Sun-Sentinel today cited local defense attorneys who indicated prosecutors might not have a case against Limbaugh, even if everything the Clines have said is true.
Former prosecutor Marc Shiner told the Florida daily nearly all drug cases are based on someone getting caught with the drugs. In some instances, he said, a trail of criminal activity left by the defendant, such as prescription fraud, could lead to drug charges.”
On the other hand, supposedly they have tapes of Rush making a buy while his ex-maid was wired. Also, in a case like this that involves a celebrity and has gotten media attention, the police are going to feel a lot pressure to charge Rush with SOMETHING just to show that they’re not giving him any special treatment. Time will tell…
***Update #10***: Apparently the Florida police were gunning for someone named Louis Beshara who along with his wife Gloria Rodriguez were selling pills out of their pharmacy. They have apparently already arrested Beshara & Rodriguez. As earlier reports indicated, it doesn’t sound like Rush was the primary target of the operation. There’s no info yet on whether they’re just going after the dealers or the buyers as well.
***Update #11***: I finally read the Enquirer article and there were some details of interest there as you’d expect…
— Rush was detoxified twice and reportedly came close to death the second time.
— Cline kept a ledger of her purchases for Limbaugh and emails from Rush asking about purchasing drugs.
— Cline claims Rush kissed and groped her in “desperate attempts to see if she was wired by cops”…
— According to the article, Marta appeared to be unaware of what was happening.
— Cline first started buying pills for Limbaugh back in March of 1998.
— On the upside for Rush, he went through detox on June 11, 2002, reportedly had a bad time of it, and then paid her off soon after. That was the last time he bought drugs from from her which COULD mean Rush has been clean for more than a year. Cline did tape her last two deliveries, but it sounds like she wasn’t wearing a wire, she was just doing it on her own. Furthermore, Cline went to the police back in November of 2002. If the police still haven’t gone after Limbaugh yet, it COULD indicate that they have no evidence against him other than what Cline gave them and may not have enough to prosecute him.
***Update #12***: Rush has hired Roy Black to represent him. That’s a very smart move.
***Update #13***: Apparently when I said this, “If the police still haven’t gone after Limbaugh yet, it COULD indicate that they have no evidence against him other than what Cline gave them and may not have enough to prosecute him,” I was in the right ballpark. From Newsmax…
“James Martz, the prosecutor who heads up the Palm Beach County, Florida task force investigating the Limbaugh case noted that police never actually caught the talk star purchasing any drugs. “Shy of that, we have very little leverage in the state system,” he told the Palm Beach Post.
Martz said he is more interested in finding the heads of drug distribution cells rather than going after alleged low-level prescription drug users like Limbaugh.
…What about the wire worn by Cline’s wife Wilma, Limbaugh’s housekeeper who told the Enquirer that she taped their last two drug transactions?
Apparently the recording is more legally problematic for the Clines than it is for Limbaugh. Attorneys told the Post that if Mrs. Cline did tape Limbaugh without his knowledge, she committed a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
What more, prosecutor Martz said such an illegally obtained recording would be inadmissible in court.
How about the emails supplied by Cline that purportedly document Limbaugh’s drug deals?
Martz told the Post that any such evidence is of little value because it’s difficult to actually verify who sent the email.”
There’s more in there, but Rush looks to be in good shape at this point…
***Update #14***: Here’s another article from the Palm Beach Post that indicates Rush isn’t going to jail…
“(T)he chance of criminal charges ever being filed against Limbaugh is next to nil, say criminal defense attorneys who have handled numerous drug cases.
And some local lawyers say they are hearing from sources within State Attorney Barry Krischer’s office that Limbaugh — who lives in a $24 million mansion on Palm Beach — will indeed not be charged.
Sources also said Limbaugh won’t even be questioned by law enforcement officials, unless the commentator chooses to cooperate on his own.”
If Rush makes it out of this without going to jail, that’s a big plus for him. I’d never want Rush to get any special treatment from law enforcement, but if he doesn’t go to the big house, that suits me just fine.
Furthermore, since Cline hasn’t provided Limbaugh with anything in more than a year, since he did detox, it’s possible that he’s clean now. That would be great news as well if it’s the case.
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