Thursday, May 11, 2006

Friends in State-level places

Kentucky Republican Governor Ernie Fletcher has been indicted for "illegally rewarding political supporters with state jobs." Fletcher has called the indictment for this misdemeanor violation, "politically motivated," while seemingly unaware of the irony this statement creates when juxtaposed with his own politically motivated practices. Fletcher's spokesman further asserted that the governor "has done nothing wrong."

Hmmm, that sure sounds familiar:
This act is the product of a coordinated, premeditated campaign of political retribution, the all-too-predictable result of a vengeful investigation led by a partisan fanatic.

I have done nothing wrong. I have violated no law, no regulation, no rule of the House
That, of course, was partisan fanatic, Tom DeLay, accusing Texas state's attorney Ronnie Earle of political fanaticism. There must be a script somewhere.

The larger suurprise here, though, is that rewarding your friends and loyalists with jobs after election appears to be illegal, at least in Kentucky. That is actually amazing, considering how nominal a practice it actually is. Just look at the White House staff. Every damn one of them is a Bush and/or party loyalist and is there for almost no other reason. Can we say, Michael Brown. Hardly what someone would call a "friend" of Bush, Brown was a friend of some guy who might have met Bush once, and Brown got a freaking job out of that. People howled, of course, but I don't remember anyone calling it "illegal." And this practice is not unique to the Bush administration. Every administration brings in its own team, all of them friends and Romans of the new regime.

And this is illegal? In Kentucky? It's hard to tell from the article, and I certainly don't intend on plowing through Kentucky state law trying to find out, exactly what constitutes "illegally" rewarding political friends with state jobs, as opposed to the usual and presumably legal reward of government jobs to loyal politicos. Nonetheless, on the list of egregious government corruptions, this seems fairly far down, but I guess we can look at Fletcher's indictment as something akin to Giuliani's zero tolerance policies in New York, where the philosophy was on the order of, stop the jay walkers and everything above that will take care of itself. And a zero tolerance policy for polticians, corrupt or no, is something this country seems ready to fully embrace.


Blogger JTapp said...

I appreciate some of the fairness in your post. Some things I'd like to point out:

Kentucky hadn't had a Republican governor since the mid-1960's. In the last elections, Republicans amazingly swept everything from county judgeships to the state Senate. It became a strong red state all of a sudden.

1) the guy leading the investigation (Grady Stumbo) is one of the very few democrats who didn't get ousted from government. He will be running for governor himself in the next election. But, he says this doesn't create a conflict of interest, so he won't remove himself from the investigation.

2) Many of the indictments are on perjury charges. During the investigation some people said "I never said _____," and now there are e-mails that prove he/she said it.

The law itself doesn't exactly forbid the cronyism you speak of.

How many times have I heard Govs. Patton, Jones, and Wilkinson lauded in the media for finding East Kentuckians jobs in the gov't, or helping out their supporters with jobs. I guess when the Dems were in control it was considered to be kind welfare, and now it's illegal. Hypocrisy. The only difference between then and now is that back then it was done with phone calls and handshakes. Now, people write emails that can be subpoenaed.

Fletcher can't be held responsible for everything the people under him did. Many of them operated on their own initiatives, and were later fired.
Tim Hazlette (one of the gov't high-ups indicted) obviously has some sort of complex, considering himself to be an "apostle" and "missionary" on a crusade to put Republicans in power. Guys like him exist in both parties. They're harmful nutballs.

If all of the people indicted clearly had a hand in it, then I wouldn't call it a witchhunt. But, the facts are that some people are being served subpoenas who had little involvement other than to work for the government themselves.

Some people have gotten laid off because Fletcher is a fiscal conservative who wants to eliminate useless jobs that Democrats gave to people. They can say "He's eliminated hundreds of jobs because we're Democrats," and the media eats it up.

The guy who was originally fired that started this whole ordeal was apparently only on the job for 6 months. Apparently during those 6 months he made it a habit to copy and save every e-mail and document he could come across, making his own motives for working seem suspect to me.

Kentucky is a poor, mostly agrarian state that is moving backwards in many areas. It has serious problems. This whole thing will only serve to tie up more resources and further politicize everything.

11:05 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...


Thanks for stopping by and I very much appreciate the comment. It is hard to get some local perspective on the situation down there through WaPo articles. Your comment provides some interesting, behind the scenes info.

Like I said, details of these allegations are certainly not present in the story, but I find it hard to believe that Fletcher's actions are much out of the ordinary. Administrations, at all levels, boot out previous people and bring in their own troops.


1:18 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Oh, and if as you say, the indictments are for perjury and not "illegally rewarding political supporters with state jobs," then the WaPo article is way off. No surprise there. It certainly didn't mention anything about such underlying issues.

1:23 PM  

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