Appropriately named brothers

APPROPRIATELY NAMED BROTHERS…. It’s almost enough to make me believe in karma.

Samuel and Charles Wyly, the billionaire brothers from Dallas who are large donors to philanthropies and to conservative causes, were charged Thursday with conducting an extensive securities fraud that the Securities and Exchange Commission said reaped $550 million in undisclosed gains.

The brothers, who founded Sterling Software, a business software and services company that they sold for $4 billion in stock to the software company CA in 2000, were also charged with insider trading violations from which they profited by more than $31 million, the S.E.C. said.

And who are the Wyly brothers? You may not recognize their names right away, but you no doubt know their friends — the Wylys have given more than just about everyone else to Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), NRCC Chairman Pete Sessions (R-Texas), and former House Republican leader Dick Armey (R-Texas), in addition to generous support for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R).

The Wyly brothers were also “substantial contributors” to the Swiftboat liars who smeared Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) military service in the 2004 presidential race.

Perhaps my favorite story involving the Wylys and politics relates to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). In 2000, the Wyly brothers created a front group called Republicans for Clean Air, whose sole purpose was to attack McCain in order to help then-Gov. George W. Bush’s presidential campaign.

McCain accused the Wyly brothers of being corrupt, and having spent “dirty money” to “hijack” a presidential election. McCain even filed a complaint against the Wylys for allegedly violating campaign finance law. Six years later, McCain changed his mind, and begged the brothers for campaign donations.

And now these two find themselves with a serious SEC problem. What goes around comes around, I guess.

For the record, I think it’s a mistake to condemn politicians for the actions of those who’ve raised money for them. Officials and candidates can hardly be expected to keep up on the shenanigans of every high-dollar donor, bundler, and financier, so I’m not suggesting these Republican candidates did something wrong by taking the Wylys’ money (though in McCain’s case, it was rather ridiculous).

I’m just saying, in light of their efforts, it’s kind of nice to see the Wyly brothers run into some trouble.