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Massachusetts Liberal

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

Friday, March 25, 2011

The wages of sin

I guess we really don't pay our elected officials enough if the strange case of Sal DiMasi is typical. Or that the shakedown he allegedly committed is really small potatoes.

Actually DiMasi is the second former member of the Massachusetts Legislature to need public support in paying for the cost of his defense on charges of public corruption. Former Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, now residing in federal housing in Danbury, Conn., also received taxpayer assistance.

No one disputes the right to adequate counsel, even if the proper citation is Miranda v. Arizona and not Joe Friday:

Representative Daniel B. Winslow of Norfolk, the ranking Republican on the Joint Committee on the Judiciary, said that if DiMasi cannot afford a lawyer, he is entitled to one, as is anyone else in similar circumstances.

“We have a constitutionally guaranteed right to counsel,’’ Winslow said. “It’s like Dragnet: ‘If you can’t afford one, one will be appointed for you.’ ’’

Yet you can't help but alternate between sad and angry that DiMasi has run through $162,000 in legal fees -- paid for through contributions to his campaign spending account -- and doesn't have the dough to pay for the high-priced legal talent working for him at a steep discount.

And when you think that this is all about an allegation of a $65,000 payoff you have to wonder even more why politicians put themselves into such situations. Especially when his alleged co-conspirators took in more.

DiMasi's slightly longer-term prospects are somewhat better. If exonerated, he will again be eligible for his state pension, and will likely have to repay at least some of the public support for his defense.

If convicted, he will also be the guest of the federal government for some period of time.

File this one under maybe crime really doesn't pay very well at all.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The hubris exhibited by these politicians (from both sides of the aisle) shows me that the penalties are not strong enough to discourage the type of behaviour that would even appear inappropiate. Make some examples of a few of these people and maybe we'll get what we really want which is some honesty in government.

March 25, 2011 9:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ Anonymous:

Seconded!

March 25, 2011 10:14 AM  

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