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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Slip the noose?

It seems the Tennessee Waltz investigation is well on its way, with more names or indictments to possibly appear. There are many ways however that the accused might be able to slip through the noose so to speak.

If any of the theories mentioned below should work in the failure to convict, it becomes even more obvious the desperate need we have for ethical governance in the Tennessee State Legislature. Here is some of the theories I'm hearing:

1. The accused accepted the money from a non-registered lobbyist or non-owner of a real or registered company. It is possible such acceptance of money may not be considered a bribe as defined by the law.

2. The proof that they actually took what the bagmen said they took can be questioned in some of the cases. Criminals testifying on other crimes in order to reduce their own sentences don't make the best witnesses. The argument can and I suspect will be made that some of the accused never received the supposed "big money" in envelopes. Perhaps the accused might even argue there were only papers of drafts of a bill in the envelope and that the bagmen pocketed any money they were given.

3. Some may say that the bagmen pocketed the money and are now just trying to save their own skin or possibly work on a movie or book deal.

4. Some may say that if they did receive money, they planned to put it down as a cash contribution on their next filing but forgot to report it this time-hence, a simple reporting mistake. Happens all the time, right? The penalty for errors on campaign disclosures is far less damaging than the penalties for accepting a bribe. The federal government will probably have to prove that money in fact influenced legislation, and that could be tough. The accused may say they would have been a sponsorer on the bill even if no money changed hands, as others did .

5. When the money exchanged hands could be the key. If it was given before January 1 and reported, then it might possibly be "legal." If it was given between Jan 1 and the start of session, the money can be accepted and not reported until the next filing deadline legally. If it was given during session, it will be easier to prove it was illegal.

6. How much was given many help prove or hurt the cases against the indicted. The max a person (non PAC) can give is $1,000 per period. The maximum a PAC can "give" is $2,500 primary + $2,500 for the general. If the numbers were smaller then the $2,000 or $5,000 total, it will be tougher to prove it was a bribe and not a contribution.

7. A legislator may also claim that they thought a lobbyist "bundled" donations from several donors and gave it as one "bundled" gift to exceed the cap.I am not sure if bundling is still legal in Tennessee but some may say that in the confusion with E-Cycle, a lobbie firm and a few different lobbyists and/or people giveing and accepting money for their campaign they or their people got confused by the sevral different firms or people donating. A simple mistake by a egar to help campaign worker who thought they were sevral seprate donations or a legislator who has tons of donors and just got confused.

I have been talking with other legislators and they think that up to 10 more legislators may be "people of interest" for the Tennessee Waltz case. This number came up in the final days of session when the FBI was grabbing legislators and several legislators did not show up for regular session .

The theory is they may have been scared or were being questioned at the time. Many legislators feel that more scandal may come out---not just about E-Cycle---but more so about TennCare and Lottery contracts that the FBI had been questioning legislators about before the Tennessee Waltz sting became public.

Many think the FBI probably scared a few of the Waltz "fish" away by heavy questioning about other scandals leading up the Waltz. Only time will tell.

Although some of these people may slip away from the law and perhaps even get re-elected again-the harshest judge will be the one each sees in the mirror.

I suspect some dread looking in the mirror in the morning and others should .


  1. "Although some of these people may slip away from the law and perhaps even get re-elected again-the harshest judge will be the one each sees in the mirror."

    Uh, wouldn't that take ethics?

  2. Sorry, I should have said "The harshest judge SHOULD be....."

  3. The real defense in these cases will be jury nullification. The defendants will try to get jurors like the Memphian quoted in the press who saw nothing wrong with what the defendants did; or like Wilder, who is offended that anyone he likes is even charged with bribery; or who think highly of the Fords.

    Worked for Alcee Hastings and O. J. Simpson.


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