Nationally the big story is Rod Blagojevich while here in Boston we have Dianne Wilkerson, Chuck Turner, and House Speaker Sal Dimasi. Let’s look at what is happening with each of them.
Dianne resigned under pressure. She had lost the election and would have ended her term in January. She no longer had any influence so why the push to move her out. It came from the State Senate leadership, from the press, from the black religious community. Granted, the tapes of her putting cash into her bra were pretty dramatic, but at the time she resigned there had been an arrest only, not a grand jury indictment. I’m pretty sure I’m right about that. So why the intense pressure for her to resign? Were people just tired of another Wilkerson financial mess? After all her problems with her mortgage and taxes have been around for years. Or is it gender related? I just can’t help noticing that of the four politicians I mention in this post, she is the only women and the only one who has been forced to resign.
Chuck has had a lot of press conferences and rallies proclaiming his innocence. His story has changed a little from “it was a campaign contribution” (which would have been illegal anyway) to “maybe it isn’t me on the tape taking the money”. He has not resigned and City Council has not pushed the matter except to take away his committee assignments. Chuck has also raised questions about the FBI. Questions which I have written about.
Sal DiMasi’s good friend, accountant and golf buddy was arrested for violation state laws about lobbying. Although I think the situation stinks there has been, so far, no direct link to Sal except some email. No one is asking Sal to resign from the House or even leave his post as Speaker. Is email maybe less damning that video? I wonder if House members are just letting the situation alone until January when there will be an election for Speaker. It will be interested to see if he is re-elected. Expect more on this as time goes by.
Then there is Blago. He says he can’t tell us what is going on because his lawyer says to save it for court, but he’s not resigning. Barack Obama can’t release his list of staff who had conversations with Blago which he says will clear the transition of any taint until U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald gives the OK. Did Fitzgerald jump the gun here? There has not been any indictment from a grand jury yet, just those very entertaining wire tap transcripts. Christopher Hayes blogging in the Nation asks
But here’s my question: My understanding of the law is that there’s a distinction between personal pecuniary interests/compensation and campaign fundraising. In other words: it would be manifestly illegal, obviously, if Blago was “selling” the seat in the sense of trading it fro cash for himself. But is trading the seat for fundraising help really illegal? and if so, doesn’t that mean that a huge percentage of political transactions are illegal, including all those conversations during the primary about Obama inducing HRC to drop out in exchange for fundraising help to retire her debt?
Using the Hayes standard of personal gain, Dianne is alleged to have taken cash for herself. Chuck allegedly took cash to “take his wife to dinner” and we aren’t sure what the allegations are for Sal and Blago.