There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile… and got caught.
The Globe’s investigation of former Speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives a while back finally bore some rotting fruit.
From the lead in today’s front page story:
Former Massachusetts House speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi and three friends were indicted yesterday by a federal grand jury for allegedly orchestrating a scheme that allowed DiMasi to pocket tens of thousands of dollars in payments from a software company while he was using his powerful office to make sure the company won state contracts.
DiMasi got at least $57,000 in payouts.
DiMasi is alleged to have said, “On the soul of Vito Corleone I didn’t do nothing.” (Okay, The Lion made that up.)
He really read this statement:
"Every decision I ever made as speaker or state representative was always made in the best interests of my constituents and of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts," DiMasi said, clutching his wife’s hand.
After reading his statement, the DiMasis drove off in his lawyer’s Jaguar.
The Lion is touched. Really. A person has to be touched to live in this state. DiMasi is charged with corruption and he drives away from his bail hearing in a Jaguar?
DiMasi is the third consecutive Massachusetts Speaker to be caught with his hands grabbing someone else’s money. The previous two pled guilty to federal criminal charges.
It is indicative of the climate in the State that the Feds had to do the work to catch these sleazeballs. And it is further indicative of the criminal state of mind of the State legislature that it recently, in a move to clean up corruption, weakened the Ethics Commission that is supposed to investigate corruption, and refused to pass a bill that bans gifts to lawmakers.
The only fair conclusion that can be drawn is that all Massachusetts legislators are corrupt. The operative definition of corruption includes those lawmakers who go along to get along, which legislative philosophy is apparently enshrined in the Massachusetts constitution. (The Lion notes that it also operates in his town of Falmouth which has long been run under GATGA principles.)
Of course all the legislators will complain of being unfairly tarred with the DiMasi brush. They will protest their innocence. And yet not one of them stood up, ever, and publicly denounced by name legislators they knew to be corrupt; not one of them ever stood up for the citizens and publicly fought against or turned down midnight pay raises and blatantly unfair, corrupt pensions for themselves and their friends; not one of them raised his voice in public against an ‘esteemed friend and colleague’ who was pulling a fast one.
Massachusetts legislators can now claim their place with some of the most corrupt states in the Union, places like Rhode Island and Illinois.
Of course the people in DiMasi’s old district, the North End, are shocked at his indictment. One man was quoted in the Globe saying, “We all love him, the whole neighborhood loves him. Whatever anybody says, he was a good guy.”
No, he wasn’t. He was a crook.
Apparently he did all the right things to keep getting elected. Lived in the neighborhood. Took care of the little problems, like rodent infestations (ah, a note of irony). Bought local goods (do they sell Jaguars there?) Probably kissed babies.
And the damn fools decided that was enough to justify keeping him in office. The Lion can only just imagine how offended they were when the Globe started trotting out the truth about DiMasi and his henchmen a while back.
One of today’s quotes from a North Ender went, “Politics is just confusing.”
No. It’s not. Politicians are not your friend. If they do something for you with one hand, you can be sure the other hand is in your pocket scrounging for your money.
No politician, ever, on any level of government, can be trusted. Ever. On anything. The more they smile and the more concern they show for their hair, the less you should trust them. Citizens should question every action, every statement, of their politicians.
They do serve a purpose. They negotiate the differences among all the competing elements of society and craft useful compromises. But most of the time, as in Massachusetts, they set themselves apart from the citizenry and come to believe that the law should serve them rather than that they should serve the law. It doesn’t take them too long to cross that line.
There was a crooked man who walked a crooked mile… and he was one of the few who got caught.