Monday, August 2, 2010
WHEN WILL THEY LEARN?
Not long ago, the Times-Shamrock newspaper editorial writers worked themselves into high dudgeon over the fact that allegedly crooked lawmakers have apparently learned nothing from the experiences of those gone before.
More specifically, the one gone before, the one newspaper editorial writers apparently believe is the only legislator before Mike Veon ever to be accused of using state resources for political campaigns, the one against whose experiences all others must be judged, Jeff Habay.
"What will it take?" the flabbergasted editors fume. "Given [legislators'] failure to [mandate transparency] after Habay's conviction, it's possible that they are incapable of learning."
While we're no fan of the legislature, they're smarter than the Times-Shamrock editors give them credit for being. Of course they've learned from the experiences of those who've gone before.
What did we learn from the experiences of James Lynch, whose Ethics Commission decision followed closely on the heels of Habay's, and who was found to have engaged in identical conduct? Instead of a criminal investigation and subsequent conviction, Lynch faced only a fine of less than $5,400.
See, most legislators know - better than the Times-Shamrock editors know - that an outcome like Habay's is exceedingly rare. And an outcome like Veon's requires a perfect storm of lingering public outrage over the 2005 pay raise vote, the unmatched cravenness of a former Majority Leader trying to divert an investigation and the shameless political opportunism of an Attorney General running for Governor.
The reality of what a legislator risks by campaigning on the public dime is a lot closer to Lynch than to Veon or even Habay.
Even Tom Corbett ... knows it.