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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Blago defense

So much for the "toughest ethics law" in the nation.

Just when you think the sad story of Dianne Wilkerson can't get any worse, she comes up with a new defense: she took at least $70,000 and it was legal. And like impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, Wilkerson is opting to convince the court of public opinion rather than one which deals with laws.

Wilkerson sat down with the Globe for a conversation in which she spelled out that she is basically homeless, working to repay her debts -- and relying on the kindness of others writing checks and offering cash that she can fork over to the IRS.

The former state senator also claims the contributions are legal because they are under the $12,o00 IRS threshold for declaring gifts -- and that the state Ethics Commission has agreed. Her interpretation of a commission advisory opinion:
"As long as I didn't take a vote in my official capacity as senator."
Interesting defense -- even if it appears to falter on the face of a $10,000 "gift" from developer Arthur Winn. He's the prime backer of the controversial Columbus Place project that has raised the political hackles or many a local politician except for, you guessed it.

And the defense also raises the question: if the "gifts" are legal, why stuff the cash in your bra?

At least it's a better approach than City Councilor Chuck Turner availing himself of LaRouche youth to stand up for him.

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