Friday, August 01, 2008
Go for a bike ride and what happens? State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson cops a plea, admits guilt and yet only has to pay back money peculiarly taken from her campaign accounts over several years.
She avoids trial and possible felony convictions and jail. Perhaps more important during her reelection run, she maintains a sweaty grip on deniability.
In the Globe, the double first graph is the $10,000 fine and admission of campaign-finance laws. In the Herald, they lead with the quoted euphemism "irregularities" and not both the fine and that she forfeits rights to $30,000 reimbursements she can't seem to justify. The former article also notes the "heated" campaign, names Sonia Chang-Diaz as challenger, and specifies the violations by type, dates and bucks, but doesn't stress that ethics could be big yet again as it was two years ago.
AG Martha Coakley is apparently eager to be done with this sticky mess. She noted that Wilkerson and her campaign will actually have to obey financial laws and use good practices for accounting and reporting. Last year, the Globe reported on the new controls that are necessary only in this case.
If some other pol were to be as dumb and clumsy, the controls might also kick in for that campaign.
Examples of what triggered the initial investigations include "failure to report $26,935 in political donations and failure to explain $18,277 paid to her by her political committee," notes the Globe. The Herald quotes its own articles from 2006 as "Wilkerson had paid herself more than $28,000 from her campaign finance account in a dozen separate reimbursements that year, all in round number amounts ranging from $1,000 to $5,000. "
For her part, Wilkerson sounded like a pol after the announcement. She said, "I consider the matter now closed. My committee has worked to install several new practices and policies to ensure that these types of accounting errors will not be repeated."
The first part is surely wishful thinking. Chang-Diaz has more substantial ammo after the admissions of guilt. Yet, so far many supporters, particularly among GLBT and black voters, seem willing or even eager to overlook multiple ethics lapses and breaches so long as she is on the right side of issues and brings in bacon to the communities.
The second part is that odd deniabilty. Wilkerson has that Ulysses Grant/Dick Nixon attitude of "mistakes were made." To us ordinary mortals, we can remain astonished that she has not already been indicted and tried on these offenses. To her, it seems someone somewhere somehow associated with her performed some poor accounting.
Who are you going to believe?
Tags: massmarrier, Massachusetts, senator, Sonia Chang-Diaz, Dianne Wilkerson