Word from the Boston Pheonix, this morning:
This morning, Massachusetts State Senator Dianne Wilkerson was arrested on charges of attempted extortion and wire fraud after an 18-month investigation by the FBI. The FBI alleges that Wilkerson took bribes from $500 up to $10,000 (for a total of $ 23,500 ) to help secure a liquor license for the Roxbury nightclub Dejavu. The FBI also released photos – reproduced here – which it says shows Wilkerson accepting the bribes from a confidential FBI informant. The full FBI affidavit can be viewed here.
The Boston Globe runs it this way:
It was not so much the allegations that a politician accepted $23,500 in payoffs that sent ripples through the lunch crowd yesterday on Beacon Hill. The shock was the allegation that state Senator Dianne Wilkerson was brazen enough to accept the cash in bustling restaurants just steps from the State House.
The crimes occurred, authorities allege, in settings as varied as the Fill-A-Buster lunch counter on Bowdoin Street, where bureaucrats squeeze ketchup onto the meatloaf special, and Mooo, a modern restaurant with 25-foot ceilings where white gold chandeliers bathe the airy dining room in warm amber light and a 52-year-old single-malt Macallan scotch sells for $425 a glass.
One FBI surveillance photograph appears to show Wilkerson grabbing a handful of $100 bills over a starched white tablecloth at a lunch June 18, 2007, at the esteemed No. 9 Park, where a loin of Colorado lamb is served with fava beans, Greek yogurt, and pickled garlic scapes ($65 in a three-course prix-fixe).
In a dining room in the 1803 Bulfinch mansion, Wilkerson then allegedly stuffed the $1,000 into her bra, according to a surveillance photograph and an affidavit filed in court.
“If I were going to make some illegal transaction, I would duck into a bathroom or somewhere a little more discreet,” said a State House employee of 34 years enjoying that meatloaf special yesterday at the Fill-A-Buster. The man was reluctant to give his name, like many frequenting the scenes of the alleged crimes for lunch.
I’ll bet she campaigned on openness in government, and this is simply her version of it.
That snark aside, what do we take from the Globe’s reaction of ‘it’s not the crime, it’s the brazenness’? What the heck do you expect? I mean, how many years of ‘it’s OK as long as you don’t get caught’ does it take to turn from sneaky behavior, the writers at the Globe apparently find acceptable from Democrats, to the openly corrupt?
Here’s some interesting background on the woman.
As a practical matter, Wilkerson has become a magnet for prosecutors. None of the charges has any of the shocking seriousness of, say, having oral sex with an intern in an Oval Office anteroom, or driving off a bridge into Chappaquiddick Sound and leaving a passenger to drown. But they have lodged in a deep place in the collective Boston psyche all the same. After those first allegations hit home, the burden of proof shifted, and Wilkerson became guilty until proven innocent.
There was, for example, the 1998 charge by the Office of Campaign and Political Finance that she illegally used campaign funds to cover personal expenses. Which sounds bad, until you discover that it involved payment for a skirt suit she wore to campaign events. She considered the suit akin to the rented tuxedos male candidates legally charge to their campaigns. The campaign finance office disagreed and demanded restitution, plus $11,500 in penalties. (The skirt suit cost $500.)
These charges, in turn, made it seem all the more likely that something was amiss when the state Ethics Commission fined Wilkerson in 2001 for failing to disclose $20,000 she’d received from the then Boston Bank of Commerce for consulting services—even as, she says, the commission gave, in Kafka-esque fashion, explicit permission to provide those services. If she’d never gotten into trouble before, you’d probably have overlooked that. Do you now?
She made the papers again that year when her condominium association sued her for failing to pay $4,671 in condo fees, though she said she was withholding them for poor service. The $1,300 in parking tickets she supposedly ran up? She insists they were her sons’. Fox 25 News knew her car had been towed before Wilkerson did.
And so on, until this fall, when Attorney General Reilly charged her with being “unable or unwilling” to report or explain what had happened to more than $45,000 in missing campaign funds she had first been notified about, the press release claimed, in August 2002. This complaint was far more detailed than a so-called draft report Wilkerson had been presented the previous November—which she says she had been working to respond to. It focused on her employment of her sons, Kendall and Cornell Mills (they take their last name from their father), in the Democrats’ coordinated 2000 campaign, of which Wilkerson, at the behest of the Al Gore campaign, took charge.
The report from Boston Magazine goes on from there, both lengthy, detailed and as damning as it is lengthy and detailed. I have to agree with Michelle Malkin, who quips:
Racism card in 3, 2, 1…
Yeah, you know it’s going to happen. I’ve watched Wilkerson’s campaign this last go round, during which she promoted the idea that elected, she would be the highest elected black official. Of course, the charges of racism from her opponants came hot and heavy… almost as a knee-jerk. So, you KNOW it’s going to come up in defense this time, too. And of course, she’ll have a cast of idiots lined up behind her, who accept her word, even now.
There are, of course those who would simply accept this as par for the course for Democrats.
I’ll bet she supports John McCain for Presdient, huh? Anyone wanna take that bet?
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