Thursday, May 10, 2007

Jeff Koch and Justice

Our experiences with the criminal justice system have been limited (thankfully) to a few visits to Traffic Court, and one to Housing Court.

Not only did we get to plead our own cases, but we got to listen to those of everybody who came up beforehand.

As a general rule, defendants who say, "Yeah, I did it, I'm really sorry, it'll never happen again" are quickly offered reduced sentences and lower fines.

Their Honors greatly dislike people with lists of excuses, and other people to blame. They especially hate failure to express remorse. These sad sacks usually wind up facing more charges, and more punishment than before.

Jeff Koch has yet to express any serious contrition, or offer any personal apology, for having gotten a city Redd Up crew mixed up in political corruption. Insisting he was in no way responsible, he appears content to allow Ray Sansone to take the fall.

For having worked the phones for his reelection bid on the public dime, he squarely directs all blame at Eileen Conroy.

And for accepting financial contributions directly from corporations, which is a clear violation of election law, Koch pleads that "sometimes, we make mistakes because we don't know." He says if there's a problem, he'll return the cash.

Nevermind that every other politician in the city has managed to avoid that mistake.

Tonight, we plan on shoplifting a toaster. If we get caught, we'll just give it back!

We are not the judge of Jeff Koch. Yet in light of his continued stubborn defiance in the face of all this wrongdoing, why not just fine him the full $10,000 for the ten counts of accepting illegal campaign cash, and then throw him in prison for a year, as the law allows?

4 comments:

  1. Dude,
    Get over yourself already.

    You call a wardrobe policy violation "corruption", and refer to it as "disgusting" on other sites?

    These guys worked with Jeff for years, like him, and want to see him win. Unfortunately, they got a little overzealous and wore their shirts to work - they were working, remember? Not going door-to-door when they should have been Redding-up the tahn.

    That's hardly "getting people involved in corruption", can't be laid at Jeff's door.

    I'll give you an example: I've gotten so many non-mailed political flyers in my mailbox over the years that I've lost count (although the most recent is on behalf of a certain paralegal running for two offices at once) - technically a violation of Federal law and postal regulations, right? Is it corruption? No. Just some overzealous, perhaps lazy, campaign workers who didn't take the time to wedge the thing in my screen door. I didn't call Rich Lord, or the Postal Inspectors, to report anyone. If I did, and they didn't laugh in my face but instead actually made some hay out of it, I'm sure the candidate would insist he had no knowlege (he probably didn't) and would be sure his people would be reminded of the law against putting non-mail pieces in mailboxes. No big deal.

    Now, as to the "corportate" donations, were not talking about General Motors or Wal-mart or Haliburton; these are small businesses in the District, writing checks for a whopping $100. It seems these small businesses have formed corporations. Does it say that on their checks? No. Would a partnership or sole proprietorship, which CAN legally donate to campaigns without a PAC, have checks that look substantially similar to that of the 1889 Cafe, for example, not necessarily identifying itself as a partnership to be distinguished from a corporation? Sure. Easy to miss if you are a campaign committee treasurer who does not have a particularly suspicious mind. [And I wouldn't be so sure that no other city politician has managed to avoid accepting contributions like these - that's quite a definitive statement to make]

    Using your own traffic court analogy: Jeff has stated that if any of the donations were accepted unknowlingly from corporations, he would return them. Eileen Conroy admitted HER mistake in making ONE political call from the city phone, apoligized, and promised not to do it again. Hardly a case of excuse making or buck-passing.

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  2. Patrick,

    Thanks for your long and very civil response. I could take issue with the details of how you describe each of the three violations, but I don't want to get bogged down in specifics. To me, that all boils down to:

    "RE-ELECT JEFF KOCH: Because who really takes ethics seriously?"

    Look, I do find the fact that "Redd Up" got mixed up in this disgusting; maybe that's just me.

    Yet the fact remains that Koch skipped the part where he takes ANY responsibility for himself, and jumped immediately to attacking the people who caught him red-handed. That's not right, and that's why I'd favor not letting him off the hook so easily.

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  3. Both of you make great points.

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