Friday, January 19, 2007

When bad news is good news

No one should be happy when members of Congress go to prison, because that tells us that bad things are happening within that government, an organisation supposedly devoted to doing the "people's work." So, in one sense, the conviction of elected officials ought not be taken with anything but dismay.

That being said, however, news that Bob Ney is being sent up the river for 2.5 years must also be viewed with a cetain amount of glee. Because that tells us there is still some semblance of oversight being exercised by other governmental agencies despite the near total lack of it within the halls of the Capitol itself.
Former Rep. Bob Ney was sentenced today to 21/2 years in federal prison for trading political favors for gifts and campaign donations from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Ney, the first congressman ensnared in the lobbying scandal, pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy and making false statements. He admitted being corrupted by golf trips, tickets, meals and campaign donations from Abramoff.

"You violated a host of laws that you as a congressman are sworn to enforce and uphold," said U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle, who recommended that Ney serve his time at a federal prison in Morgantown, W.Va.
The larger concern, as it always is with these large scale corruption scandals, is that Ney will act the role of stooge, a patsy whose conviction delivers an appearance of due diligence while the rest of the players in the vast Abramoff scheme slink away, seeking lucrative jobs in the "private sector," just as I suspect Ney will do when he is released. And, of course, Ney will not likely complete the entire sentence since he claimed a "drinking problem," for which the completion of a rehab program could lead to one year of the sentence being knocked off his jail time. Of course, it's always amusing to note that a claimed addiction to certain drugs can be viewed by our penal system as a mitigating circumstance and lead to the reduction of one's prison sentence.

Nonetheless, I think we can agree that Ney's conviction is a bright spot in our otherwise grim political spectrum.


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