While the word “Rico” will forever remind me of the character from the book Starship Troopers, it is also the acronym for the Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization Act of 1970. Designed to take a bite of organized crime, world-famous birther leader and anti-Obama crusader Orly Taitz has stated that RICO should be used against “All Newspapers” for their willful denial of coverage of her lawsuits.
While this web site has documented significant coverage of Orly Taitz and her antics in the media, any objective tabulation of the number of mentions for “Orly Taitz” and “Barack Obama” will show that Orly is not getting equal time. So what is this RICO statute and what does it have do with the anti-Obama movement?
While primarily a criminal prosecution tool, there is a civil lawsuit provision. If an individual can demonstrate that they were harmed by a RICO, they can collect treble (three times) damages. RICO is codified as Chapter 96 of Title 18 of the United States Code, 18 U.S.C. § 1961–1968. For a civil lawsuit, there must be one of four specified relationships between the defendant(s) and the enterprise:
- Most courts have ruled that the only injury compensable under § 1962(a) is that resulting from a defendant’s investment of racketeering income.
- Most courts have required that the alleged injury to the plaintiff proximately result from the defendant’s acquisition of an interest in, or control over, an enterprise.
- Most civil RICO claims are filed under § 1962(c), which makes it unlawful to “conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct” of an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity. The key word here is “racketeering” which refers to an “illegal business”.
- Conspiracy to commit one of the previous 3.
[Thanks to LectLaw.com for research information for this article.]
OK, now where exactly does “newspapers not covering Orly’s cases” fit? Generally, newspapers may print what the want, and it is not illegal for them to print one thing and not another. I think Orly would say that that the crime is “fraud”, but we would have the same problem relating “criminal fraud” to the newspapers as we do RICO. Unless Orly has bought a newspaper company, I don’t think she gets in the door with a RICO suit.
And so as usual, birthers do not know what they are talking about.
Caution: I am not a lawyer.