Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Classic Schemes to Defraud

Where I live, the local government was so corrupt that the voters threw the entire system into the trashbin in favor of a "reform" which I am sure we are hoping works out to the benefit of the taxpayers/citizens.  The Bad Lawyer has always been poitically moderate, although my rightie friends think, (and my late-father thought) I'm a socialist/commie.  My friends on the left are equally aghast at my politics--oh well.  My education and life experiences have biased me towards "representative democracy" so I tend to view reform as anti-democratic--elites choose your representatives instead of you.  While I am repulsed by the overall quality of the elected judiciary; I am deeply suspicious of merit-selection schemes.  The new local government "reform" has me deeply suspicious, but I can't argue with the need to do something to rid ourselves of the crooks who are fleecing the folks they were supposed to be representing. 

In Boston.com (website of the Boston Globe) has this article describing the indictment of the Massachusets Speaker of the House, Salvatore Di Masi (pic, right) and a number of his cronies for what they term, "classic schemes to defraud."  According to the Boston Globe, "DiMasi and the other defendants are charged with steering two contracts worth $17.5 million to [. . . ] a Burlington firm, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of dollars in payments, including $57,000 for DiMasi. Also indicted were DiMasi’s friend and former accountant Richard Vitale; DiMasi’s friend and [ . . .] lobbyist Richard McDonough; and [a . . . ]former sales agent, Joseph Lally."

"Defense lawyers argue that their clients did nothing wrong and that the money paid to DiMasi and the other defendants represented legitimate legal, consulting, or lobbying fees."

Recently, prosecutors in New York State prosecuted former State Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno (pic, left) who had turned his office into a lobbyist boiler room.  His decades-long legacy, a legisaltive institution that is openly mocked on the editorial pages of the leading newspapers of New York as a carnival of greed heads, crooks, and ego maniacs. 

I have a friend who likes to say that you get the government you deserve, I find that notion, absurd and reductionist.  These people like Bruno and DiMasi are old school guys who came into power motivated by decent impulses.  We enable their exploitation by not requiring them to serve us, and not special interests, corporations, and lobbyists.  If we care about representative democracy we will take radical steps to reign in the system of private finance of our politics. 

As a young lawyer, I was frequently stunned by the easy corruption of political and judicial figures.  Years ago I stood in shock as opposing counsel openly-pandered a Judge's visit to his lawfirm's lodge for skiing and drinking in front of me as we argued the repective merits of competing motions to this Judge.  The Judge granted his pal's motion for summary judgment and it took two years to obtain an appellate court reversal with an award of attorney fees.  Think about this.  My client was screwed by a corrupt judge.  It took two years to undo the damage--what if we lacked the resources to pursue an appeal?  What if the court of appeals panel had not done its job as it so often does not?   The corrupt judge, ran for the court of appeals, his campaign poster touted his "integrity."  He won.

1 comment:

  1. I think that there is no necessity that individual liberties be respected in a representative democracy: one that does not is an illiberal democracy. A representative democracy that emphasizes individual liberty is a liberal democracy.