By Greg Smith
The Democratic-dominated California state senate better wrap up business for the year, it’s just a couple FBI stings away from not being able to muster a quorum. Republican candidates in Connecticut should point voters’ attention across the continent as they try to end the Democratic grip on every statewide office, as well as majorities in both houses of the state legislature.
The California state senate on Friday suspended three lawmakers, all Democrats, for varying charges of corruption. The most fascinating were the international arms trafficking charges against state Senator Leland Yee, who is – make that was – the point man in the state’s full-court press for more gun control. Yee was also running for secretary of state, where he would have overseen elections in the state. Oh joy. Imagine the fair shake challengers would have gotten from a Democratic secretary of state who was willing to deal in shoulder-fired missiles in his spare time.
With only 40 senate seats, three senators suspended – with pay — for corruption charges and/or bribery is a high number even if the assumption is all government corruption is caught by law enforcement, which seems pretty unlikely.
What is far more unlikely is no one in the state senate had any inkling about bribery, voter fraud or any of the illicit extracurriculars in which these three were charged or convicted. There aren’t many complete secrets in state houses, too many eyes and ears surround higher public officials. And political parties are completely aware that some people go into ‘public service’ to line their own pockets, legally or otherwise.
Obviously, any Democrats in California who knew or suspected illegal activity were not overly concerned because their party has a stranglehold on power in the state. California has become so blue Democrats weren’t worried about a stray scandal here or there. They just timed the scandals poorly.
“One is an anomaly, two is a coincidence. Three? That’s not what this senate is about,” said Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, according to KTVU.com.
Steinberg is wrong. Any organization that doesn’t have to compete, without exception, rots from within. In the 1950s and 1960s the three major American automakers had the domestic market to themselves. Management was somewhat intertwined and all three had basically the same labor agreements so their largest expenses were inflexible and in line with each other. By the early 1970s the Big Three, and AMC with the Pacer, Gremlin, Javelin — got used to turning out junk they believed Americans had to buy if they didn’t want to walk. The only reason American cars began to improve in the 1990s was competition from Japan. The Big Three learned the hard way Americans didn’t have to buy a Pinto when they could get a Corolla.
This is by no means a claim Republican officeholders are more honest. The ideology of smaller government does provide fewer opportunities for corruption, but no matter how small and well lit the town some will still find a dark alley in which to prostitute themselves.
Senate Democrats in California seem to have moved the dark alley right into their chamber. At least the shorter commute will save them on carbon credits. According to the Washington Post senate Republicans last week put up a resolution to expel Sen. Roderick Wright, one of the three suspended Friday. Democrats defeated the resolution so Wright, convicted in January of eight felonies involving perjury and voter fraud, gets to keep drawing his $95,000 annual salary.
Friday’s vote to suspend the three passed 28-1. The lone dissenter was Republican Senator Joel Anderson who said, “What we’re doing is incentivizing bad behavior with this resolution,” and wanted the three expelled instead.
The three suspensions only cost Democrats their supermajority in the Senate, so they still control both chambers of the legislature and all other statewide offices. They have so little concern about the scandals, the senator who is expected to become the next senate president pro tem, Sen. Kevin de Leon, D-Los Angeles, rated the body quite highly.
“This is the best legislative institution in the country, hands down, and we’re going to get past it,” he said.
Maybe de Leon has never golfed and doesn’t realize sometimes a lower score, like in the number of felony counts against sitting senators, would be considered the “best.” In any case there should be no surprise at the charges and convictions. Government will always involve some corruption, and one-party rule will always breed greater corruption than would have existed otherwise because legislators feel their jobs are much less vulnerable.
Republicans need only point to California and ask Connecticut voters if they think Chris Dodd’s shenanigans occurred in a vacuum. ©
Greg Smith is a freelance writer and political consultant who lives in Bantam, CT. His blog is found at http://www.betterfatthanfascist.com.