State Attorney General Brad Schimel accepted a $2,500 campaign donation from a predatory loan king who was in business with a reputed mob figure, records show.
Schimel accepted the donation from Rod Aycox, of Alpharetta, GA, on March 15, campaign finance records show. The donation is listed in Schimel's latest campaign finance report.
Aycox is the founder and chief executive officer of Atlanta-based Select Management Resources and routinely pumps big money into campaigns of candidates symapthetic to the exhorbitant-interest payday/title loan industry. Aycox also operates companies under the names LoanMax, Midwest Title Loans and several other brands, according to the Center for Public Integrity.
The profits he derives from charging high interest rates to poor people allows him to live in luxury.
Aycox, a former used car and insurance salesman, was at one time a co-owner with Alvin Malnik of Title Loans of America. Malnik is a reputed mob associate.
As the Los Angeles Times put it:
If you believe Forbes magazine ("The Invisible Enterprise"), Malnik essentially invented the black art of money-laundering, taking mob money and routing it to legitimate ventures (like real estate). To wit:
"In the 1960s, Miami lawyer Alvin Malnik set up the Bank of Commerce in the Bahamas. Mob money flowed into its secret numbered accounts by the hundreds of millions--(mob financier Meyer) Lansky money, most of it--and then out again into Tibor Rosenbaum's International Credit Bank of Switzerland before returning to the United States for investment."
By the way, did you know that Swiss francs were used to finance construction of the apartment buildings in Clairemont and Rancho Penasquitos.
The gaming commissions of New Jersey and Las Vegas have made Malnik persona non grata . All lies, he says.
And the Arizona Republic reported in 1999:
In a January 1997 sworn deposition for a Georgia civil action, Aycox, then president and part-owner of Title Loans of America, revealed Malnik as an owner of U.S. Title Trust, which owns 50 percent of Title Loans of America. In the same deposition, Aycox reported that he is a 33 percent owner and Kenneth Partiss of Atlanta was a 17 percent owner. In 1983 Partiss was among 84 defendants indicted in Miami after a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration drug-smuggling probe that covered 20 states. He was acquitted.
A total of five sexual assault survivors contacted the state's hotline after the launch Attorney General Brad Schimel's "By Your Side" campaign to encourage survivors to find out about the status of their sexual assault kits.
"Maybe for some folks that's a really disappointing number," said Keeley Crowley, the State Department of Justice's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative site coordinator.
The assaults of at least three of those who used the hotline occurred 30 years ago, she told attendees of a meeting of the Milwaukee Commission on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault last month. Those women welcomed the the chance to talk about what happened to them, she said.
"I feel confident they (the five) were provided the services the were looking for," she said.
She also said that the state now is planning to translate materials from the campaign into languages other than English.
A five-week online advertising effort to promote the By Your Side website ended in March. Attorney General Brad Schimel's office has come under fire for its low-budget effort to provide sexual assault survivors information about the testing status of their sexual assault kits and to determine whether women whose kits were not tested want them tested.
Schimel said during his agency's budget hearing that the By Your Side Campaign spent about $60,000.
"We do not have a fixed budget amount for the outreach program," DOJ spokesman Johnny Koremenos said in a March 27 email. "Instead it is a flexible budget item which may be supplemented as needed."
(The state is spending, in contrast, $1.7 million to spread the word about the dangers of opioid abuse.)
There are about 6,000 untested sexual assault kits in the state and about 600 have been sent to a private lab for testing, DOJ officials said during the commission meeting.
Of the 6,000, almost 4,000 are already targeted for testing because the survivors gave their consent at some point, they said. The kits in another 1,000 or so other cases were not tested because the criminal cases were resolved and the testing was deemed unnecessary. The state is trying to determine how much value there is in testing those kits. The state already has on file DNA of convicted sex offenders.
About 500 tests were not tested for a variety of other reasons. Some cases might involve two consenting juveniles, where one could be technically considered guilty of sexual assault. There are a relative handful of cases that involve kits routinely taken at autopsy, whether or not there is any sign of sexual assault.
That leaves about 500 survivors the state especially would like to reach. Those survivors never gave their consent to have their kits tested, and the state will not test them without that consent. The state also is not trying to proactively contact the survivors to ask. Such a contact, coming out of the blue, could re-traumatize survivors or disrupt their lives, DOJ officials said.
Instead, the agency launched the web-based By Your Side campaign. It was kicked off in late January with three press conferences. More recently, DOJ printed posters promoting the outreach effort.
An internet campaign is more likely to be missed by survivors who are low-income than by those who are wealthy. The Pew Research Center reported in September that internet non-adoption "correlated to a number of demographic variables, including age, educational attainment, household income and community type."
About 13,000 people visited the website as of March 31, DOJ officials said. There is no way to tell, though, how many of those were survivors.
The 500 "priority" survivors may not come forward now for the same reason they were reluctant to have their kits tested immediately after the assault, Crowley said.
“Those survivors may never come forward," she said.
Koremenos said in the March 27 email that the state was "in the process" of collecting information about how many women came forward to have their kits tested after the campaign started. He has not responded to an April 17 follow-up inquiry.
Asked specifically how victims who left the state after they were assaulted in Wisconsin are supposed to find out about the state's testing program, Koremenos did not respond to the question asked, but wrote:
"Victim advocates, survivors and the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault all participated in the creation of the 'By Your Side' outreach concept," he wrote. "Their recommendation was for a general outreach program that allows survivors to reach out regarding their sexual assault kits only if and when they decide they are ready to do so. They explicitly rejected direct contact / outreach to survivors, based upon the very real potential such direct 'cold' contact has for re-inflicting trauma."
Wisconsin has received about $4 million in grants for outreach and to test the kits. The Wisconsin Justice Initiative on Feb. 17 filed an open records request seeking documents related to the state's grant application and implementation. DOJ has yet to provide a single record.
The state's cautious approach to testing may have consequences beyond current survivors.
As of August, according to endthebacklog.org, "testing these backlogged rape kits has resulted in the identification of over 1,200 potential serial rapists. These serial offenders, linked to kits in just three cities, have committed crimes across at least 40 states and Washington, D.C. They have not just committed rape—many have been linked to other violent crimes, as well."
WJI issued a statement today on Attorney General Brad Schimel's policies on testing rape kits and other crime evidence. The statement is below.
Attorney General Brad Schimel must more clearly explain his policies on testing rape kits and evidence from other crimes, the Wisconsin Justice Initiative said Friday.
Schimel this week announced a “By Your Side” campaign that asks sexual assault victims to come forward if they believed their kit was not tested. The state has tested just nine of its backlog of 6,000 rape kits.
“What happens when the victim is a child?” WJI Executive Director Gretchen Schuldt said. “Are those cases treated differently than those involving adult victims?”
Too many sexual assaults of minors involve family members or trusted friends of the family, Schuldt said, the very people most able to discourage victims from having the kits tested.
Schimel’s announced policy of testing rape kits only with the victims’ consent is dangerous because it reduces law enforcement’s chances of catching repeat offenders by linking evidence to multiple offenses, Schuldt said.
Schimel is not even contacting victims directly to find out if they want to have their kits tested. Instead, he is relying on individual victims, who probably don’t know the status of their test kits, to contact his office to ask to have their kits processed.
“He is putting almost the entire burden on the victim,” Schuldt said. “Schimel is making less than than minimal effort. He really should take catching serial rapists more seriously.”
Schimel should also explain whether he is treating victims of all crimes equally, Schuldt said.
“Is Schimel not processing evidence in any case where a victim might be traumatized?” she asked. “Can a the victim of an attempted carjacking block the processing of fingerprints taken from her car’s steering wheel? Can an attempted murder victim deny access to the bullets a surgeon digs out of his body? Can the owner of a store that was robbed refuse to let police process a bullet casing?”
If Schimel is treating sexual assault evidence any differently than other crimes, he needs to explain why, Schuldt said.
“We need to know that he isn’t just singling out for inaction crimes where victims are, by far, women,” she said.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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