Crooks Don't Need Good Grammar


People often ask me whether good grammar is important. There’s usually a subtext to their question. It’s, “Validate all the sweat and effort I’ve put into learning how to speak and write properly.”

My pat answer tends to disappoint: Proper grammar is like a nice suit. It might be crucial when applying for that dream job, but you can ditch the starched-shirt formality if you’re going to a backyard barbecue.

Today, I stand corrected. Turns out good grammar and even 10th-grade writing skills are immaterial to one of the most important jobs in the country provided that, along with your resume, you send a mountain of cash.

Behold the language skills of a man accused in federal court of slipping $16 million of other people’s money to one Paul Manafort, while simultaneously seeking a job as Secretary of the U.S. Army.

Stephen M. Calk, trusted custodian of depositors’ savings at Chicago’s Federal Savings Bank — an institution focused on serving veterans with home loans and the like — submitted his application materials to Manafort well after the latter was officially removed from the presidential team. This was around the same time he approved $16 million in loans to Manafort.

And it gets worse, as I explain in my recent column.

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