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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Monday, June 22, 2009

"He did it. So what?"

The lawyers representing Sal DiMasi, Richard Vitale and two other defendants appear to working on a rather unique defense in against the federal charges they deprived Massachusetts residents of their "honest services" by allegedly transferring $57,000 from Cognos ULC to the former House speaker.

Ignore the facts and attack the law under which the charges were brought. After all, the same tactic succeeded in getting the state Ethics Commission to to drop its lawsuit against DiMasi in its examination of the relationship among the speaker, Vitale and the Massachusetts Ticket Brokers.

But the focus on the law and not on the facts -- something defendants generally try to rebut -- can't help but raise questions in the public's mind about the accuracy of the facts.

The also appears to have a pretty good track record snagging politicians and lobbyists who stray from the straight and narrow: Connecticut governor John G. Rowland, disgraced Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff; and Canadian-born media baron Conrad Black.

Waiting in the wings to try it out in Massachusetts is former state senator Dianne Wilkerson, who also produced a state Ethics Commission opinion proclaiming at least one of her gifts, for $10,000 was legal.

Maybe I'm reading too much into words by Martin Weinberg, Vitale's attorney, that in effect say "He did it. So what."
“There was no pattern of gifts to the speaker that caused him to deviate from honest services, there was no concealment that was illegal.’’
Parsing that sentence is key: Are the most important words "no pattern of gifts" or "caused him to deviate" or "no concealment that was illegal."

Folks who loved Bill Clinton's "it all depends on the meaning of the word is" defense will enjoy spending hours on this one.

Personally, I would rather hear the facts of the case and not a challenge to the efficacy of the law. Maybe it's just good lawyers earning their keep. But maybe it's just trying to change the subject when the facts aren't on your side.

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Blogger Chris Rich said...

OL, If you are bored some time, do a google search "Massachusetts Embezzling'. It returns about 56 thousand items.

And it should come as no surprise that there a significant number of attorneys here who specials in defending embezzlers as there is plenty of business.

On a purely thumbnail apocryphal basis, a guesstimate, I seem to notice at least a few new embezzler stories in the local media every month.

So it suggests massholes are an unusually craven culture when it comes to something for nothing money grubbing 'shortcuts'.

Therefore a defense of of "so What' comes as no surprise.

June 24, 2009 12:57 PM  

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