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Massachusetts Liberal

Observations on politics, the media and life in Massachusetts and beyond from the left side of the road.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Value pricing

I always thought that the corruption allegations against Dianne Wilkerson and Chuck Turner amounted to political chump change. Now I have no doubt.

While Wilkerson was stuffing bills into her bra and Turner took a $1,000 for a nice dinner to expedite a liquor license, the governor of Illinois was putting a US Senate seat up for auction -- all the while knowing he was already under serious investigation for political corruption.

That folks, will earn Rod Blagojevich a picture in the dictionary next to the word "brazen." Or maybe [expletive deleted].

And it will also require New York Gov. David Paterson to conduct a virtually transparent search for a successor to Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton's Senate seat.

The 76-page complaint is amazing (and shocking) reading. The sitting governor of Illinois was also looking for the removal of a Chicago Tribune editorial writer in exchange for a tax break (why do I think Sam Zell might have been willing to talk?)

The fact that the indictments were the work of US Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald -- he of the Valerie Plame Wilson-Scooter Libby saga -- only adds to the political intrigue.

And intrigue there will surely be.

Despite Fitzgerald's flat assertion that Obama had no knowledge and involvement, Republicans were quick to pounce:
"The serious nature of the crimes listed by federal prosecutors raises questions about the interaction with Governor Blagojevich, President-elect Obama, and other high-ranking officials who will be working for the future president," said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the new GOP House whip.
But there is the matter of David Axelrod's apparent Blagojevich ego-stroking comments that the two had talked to deal with.

The Illinois case should actually help efforts here at home to tighten up ethics laws in the wake of indictments against Wilkerson and Turner and allegations swirling around the friends of Sal DiMasi.

The Times reported Obama did intercede in efforts by his former Illinois Senate colleagues to pass a tougher ethics law -- something that apparently sped up the governor's graft grab timetable.

Maybe the President-elect has a few minutes to spare to chat with the Massachusetts House Speaker, who is on record that he feels Bay State ethics laws are among the toughest in the nation.

Our corruption isn't the worst -- but neither is our system to prevent or discourage it. There are lessons aplenty to learn from Illinois.

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