Jack Conway’s college days

When Democratic Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway started attacking his opponent for the Kentucky Senate seat, Republican Rand Paul, for college-aged hijinks that involved smoking pot and “praying” to a god named Aqua Buddha, Conway’s old classmates took notice.

“Can you believe he opened that door?” classmates wondered in e-mail chains, regarding why Conway would have invited scrutiny on his college days.

The reason? Conway, in his undergrad years at work hard, play hard Duke University, was a member of the school’s then-most exclusive fraternity, Sigma Alpha Epsilon (SAE), which had its own share of notable moments while Conway was studying public policy in the late 1980s and early 1990s, albeit of a very different sort than the NoZe Brotherhood, Paul’s group.

The strangest episode of Conway’s time at Duke occurred in 1988, when he rushed SAE along with a man who went by Baron Maurice Jeffrey Locke de Rothschild, of the famous French Rothschild pedigree.

“The Baron,” as he was known on campus, was no ordinary SAE pledge. For one thing, he refused to participate in many of the frat’s traditions. He was also short, chubby and “flamboyantly” gay, three classmates said, far from the white, handsome, southern pedigree of the other members.

The Baron threw temper tantrums, for instance if a credit card was declined. He often sent flowers. He drove a beat-up Honda because, he said, his Maserati was in the shop. The supposed French aristocrat barely knew any French.

Perhaps it was his tie to the Rothschilds. Perhaps it was his weekend sailing plans with the Kennedy family in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. Perhaps it was simply his wealth — the Baron would show classmates his family’s mansions in worn issues of Architectural Digest.

But for whatever taste of royalty the SAE brothers got from the Baron, it turned out to be an elaborate fraud.

The Baron was in fact 37-year-old Maruo Cortez, Jr., born in Houston, Texas. He had pulled the same stunt at the Berkeley, California chapter of SAE years earlier — but the Californians caught on faster than Conway and co.

They found out too late. SAE had held a public ceremony to celebrate his membership. They couldn’t formally induct the Baron because of a probation for unspecified hazing incidents (Duke University records of such things only go back to 1996 and former members were reluctant to share more.)

He had also defrauded classmates and local businesses to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

Obviously, Conway isn’t responsible for the Baron’s fraud. But the episode was an embarrassment both for Duke and for the Baron’s friends, all of whom overlooked so many signs of what in retrospect was a preposterous fraud.

“We were all guilty,” said one of Conway’s classmates. “I sat in introductory French with this guy,” who was supposedly a French aristocrat.

Others said it was a particular blight on SAE, which weighed family wealth heavily in choosing its members.

“It’s like he was a control group,” said a classmate who was in a rival fraternity. “Every single thing that would make [Cortez] an attractive candidate for SAE was absent — except his wealth.”

Read more: http://dailycaller.com/2010/10/25/jack-conways-college-days/#ixzz13N7sJWqa

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