Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Political Intrigue at the County Level

One of the little corruption gimmicks I learned while in Arlington and observing DC.....was the "hidden-gift" trick.

The DC city council had a number of departments, and various financial accounts in each.  Each year, revenue would be collected and disbursed out to the departments.  Over in the recreation department, there was this account to 'gift' funding out to foundations and charity operations which helped various cultures and groups in DC....related to physical activities.

So one of the city council guys had been smart....created his own charitable foundation to bring softball to the kids of DC.  Over a year or two....the foundation sought $300,000.....and the foundation got it.

The money?  Well....it got routed around, and eventually gets moved from one account to another, and eventually....the city council guy buys a motorcycle and SUV for himself.....then goes on a number of golf trips.  My belief is that he would have continued this trend for twenty or thirty years.....but someone in the financial audit area of the city council went back to look at results.  The episode got noted, and turned over to the feds.  Eventually, they came with a search warrant....proved the case....and offered the guy a deal.  He would do time but it's not that much.  Sadly, he had to resign his position and return the $300,000.  As of two years after the fact....he'd only returned $50,000 and it was generally believed that he'd declare some version of bankruptcy and slide out of the whole deal at the end.

This week.....in Huntsville, Ala (my home region).....this little episode popped up.

There's been heat going on between the new city board of education chief and the city council.  The new guy (former Army Colonel).....is changing a lot of things.  He's even gotten down to redrawing the school districts.  One of the county commissioners is hot on these changes and wanting to slow the whole thing down, and possibly undo some of the changes.

As you might expect....there's some comments being slung by a number of folks in Huntsville over both parties.

Well....the education chief came out with an odd observation.....there's two checks written out from an education account from three or four years ago.....blessed by this county commissioner....going to an entity that is not blessed by law to receive the funding.  They want an audit.....independent audit of course.

My guess is that there's not just two of these checks.....that they will start to find a few more....begging more questions....all leading back to this one county commissioner.  It'll take at least six months to complete the audit, and it'll come out probably a few weeks prior to the November elections (my hunch).

This county commissioner under suspicion?  I'm guessing that he's a bit worried over potential affects from this audit.  Maybe the two checks can be explained in some way that makes some ethical sense.  Maybe, it's legit but simply misunderstood.  Or maybe.....it's corruption to the second-degree and this guy's November chances are now cut in half.

Some guys will likely meet for the Democratic Party over the next month, and look at potential damage there in Madison County from this audit.  My guess is that they will suggest to this guy affected....if any of this is proven true....your odds of winning are lost.  Why not just announce you won't run, and the Party will find a new guy to stand to your position?  Anger and frustration will erupt......this wasn't supposed to end like this for a long political career at the county level.

The money from these checks?  $20,000 total.

About every week now.....I notice Republicans and Democrats....under some investigation or plea deal being worked.  The corruption angles are more developed than they were twenty years ago.  You'd think that folks would worry about prison time or losing their self-respect.....but that doesn't seem to worry these folks.  It's a sad state of affairs.....and doesn't appear to be getting better.

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