Frankly I’m Stunned! Do Convicted Rod Blagojevich’s comments reflect on his state of mind?

July 4, 2011

A federal jury convicted Rod Blagojevich of sweeping corruption, ending the  political drama that brought another popular politician!  Blagojevich’s response, “Frankly, I’m stunned!”  Blagojevich then stated, “There’s not much left to say other than we want to get home to our little girls and talk to them and explain things to them and try to sort things out.”

In its 10th day of deliberations, the jury convicted Blagojevich of several shakedown attempts, including allegations that he brazenly tried to sellPresidentBarack Obama’s oldU.S. Senate seat.  The decisive verdict came less than a year after the first jury to hear the case found him guilty of one criminal charge but deadlocked on the rest.  It appears the prosecution learned from the first trial as they concluded with a prosecution win on the second.

Facing a lengthy prison term, Blagojevich will now have to face reality in a new world.  But, what do you make of his comment, “Frankly, I’m stunned?”  How can one be so caught up in the illusion of innocence when the facts or guilt seem so obvious?

A news report stated: “Likewise, there was an oddly schizophrenic nature to the Blagojevich defense, both the one he waged in court and the one he waged with vocal and strident indignation in the media. Almost in the same breath, the Blagojevich narrative portrayed him as a paragon of ethics and a wheeling-dealing practitioner of politics as usual in a system he frequently decried as corrupt.”

Is it possible that Blagojevich lacked the capacity to understand ethics?  Is it possible that, in a twisted way, Blagojevich felt, like many, that business as usual was ethical and quite acceptable?

The Media report went on to say related to the sentence as it was read:

He eventually mouthed the words “I love you” toward his wife, who was in the first row crying and leaning on her brother. Moments after the jury left the room, Blagojevich embraced her and cradled her head, telling her it would be all right.

The trial exhibited multiple Blagojevich personalities, the manic and almost desperate-sounding schemer heard on wiretaps; the strident and outraged everyman fighting the system that came out in multiple media appearances following his arrest; and the humble, polite and modest presence on the witness stand before jurors.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE BLAGOJEVICH TRIAL AND VERDICT?

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Ethics Mr. Weiner? My What a Tangled Web We Weave when we Tweet our wiener and then Deceive!

June 7, 2011

There are times when actions taken defy explanations!  This is the case with “the talented Mr. Weiner” – oops…that should read “the lying Mr. Weiner!”  First you tweet a picture of your wiener (covered up of course) and then you try to cover it up?  What?  This is beyond a Comedy Central South Park script.  Only in real life can  you find something this bizarre!

From the movie Porkys (with minor modification): “I can identify that wiener,” yet early on Mr. Weiner was challenged with clearly recognizing who’s wiener was in the tweeted picture.

Sensational?  Yes!  Worthy of this blog – well only in a few ways.

It is not my intention to tear someone down when they have been foolish in their choices.  As an ethics speaker, my opening line is – “Every Choice Has A Consequence!”  That is true and like Representative Weiner, I, too, have had to face the consequences of my choices.  Perhaps they were not a embarrassing as his, but the consequences were every bit as great.

Now called upon to resign, embattled and embarrassed Anthony Weiner is just now beginning to experience the consequences of his Tweet!  “The chairman of the Republican Party said Tuesday that Rep. Anthony Weiner should resign after admitting to sexually charged online relationships with several women and lying about his misdeeds.”  Beyond calls for his resignation, in a Washington Post article the following was stated:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has written to the chairman and ranking Democrat on the House Ethics Committee formally requesting an investigation into whether Rep. Anthony Weiner broke House rules, after the New York Democrat admitted that he had repeatedly liedto cover up his inappropriate communications with several women online.

“On June 6, 2011, Representative Anthony Weiner disclosed conduct which he described as inappropriate,” Pelosi wrote in the letter, which she sent Tuesday to Ethics Committee Chairman Jo Bonner (R-Ala.) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (Calif.). “An investigation by the Ethics Committee to determine whether the Rules of the House of Representatives have been violated is warranted.”

CHOICES AND ETHICS:

The issue for me isn’t what the consequence should be.  I am not the judge nor jury…that is for others to decide.  Rather, for me the entire conversation centers around choices and consequences!  To put this into perspective, I was talking today with a client for whom I’ll be speaking soon.  Folks with the Florida Association of Counties have asked me to come and speak at their annual meeting on ETHICS.  They, like many around the nation, have seen the devastating impact that unethical choices have on elected officials, government employees and all connected with them including their families.  In fact, this article was sent to me today that outlines the serious impact of our ethical or UNETHICAL choices.

Over a ten year period over 800 public officials were convicted on charges and that number does not reflect the much larger number of folks that did not face prosecution due to challenges with cases or circumstances where the violation could be resolved without public prosecution.

But in a time when things move more quickly than ever before, the actions we take today may very well make the headlines tomorrow.  The Washington Post describes Weiners actions as follow: ”

Here is what we’ve been dealing with: We’ve been dealing with four sad, grainy photos of Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) in various states of undress, looking pathetic in the pathetic way exclusive to men who are trying their best to look sexy. He sat shirtless at his desk. He sat shirted on his couch. In one particularly artful photo, he sat next to a picture of a dog in a sweater and held up a piece of paper with an arrow pointing to his own face. It said, “Me.” He apparently sent these photos to a single mom named Meagan Broussard, who responded with her own grainy pouts. He also texted with several other women.

He was guilty, but of what?

Here is what we are dealing with: We are dealing with the gray space where fidelity meets Facebook and with the boundary between our “real” lives and our online lives, which is constantly being pushed, and never where you expect it.”

Weiner contends that his actions were private and personal.  He used his own computer and it had nothing to do with his role as a United States Representative.  All that may be true, but it doesn’t change the action(s) he took and the judgment surrounding them.  The problem is two fold: (1) the choices we make do have direct and profound consequences (I know as I’ve experienced them in federal prison) and (2) in this day and age, the speed at which we make our choices and receive our consequences makes taking the time to think about them much more profound.

Again, best stated in the Washington Post article:

But 20 years ago, Weiner would have had to load his Nikon with film before pointing it at his crotch. He would have had to take this film to the Fotomat, wait 24 hours before picking it up, find an envelope, lick a stamp. In every preceding era, there were built-in checkpoints, moments in which one could ask oneself, “Is this a good idea? Does she want to see my dog in a sweater? Am I a congressman? Should that influence my decision?”

There was, in fact, a literal red flag: the one you flicked up on the mailbox to signal to your postal carrier that your correspondence was ready for the world.

WHERE FROM HERE?

Well, for Representative Anthony Weiner – I don’t know, but I suspect that he’s soon be out of office.  This is far to public and too political for it to die a quiet and quick death.

From my end, as I prepare to speak at the Florida Association of Counties meeting, I am confident that many in the room will identify with choices and consequences and perhaps, when faced with someone who has been there and done that, perhaps they will think (that’s the operative word – THINK) before they go off half cocked and do something stupid like tweeting one’s wiener!

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.


John Edwards – Guilty before trial! What happened to our system of Justice?

June 6, 2011

As news of the indictment of John Edwards hit the wire I began to hear many people speak of joy and hope that he would be punished!  Comments like, “Well, I’m glad.  For too long those with money and power seem to get away with their crimes.”  Yet others said, “Look what he did to his poor wife, he deserves whatever punishment he gets!”

As I heard those words I began to wonder what has happened to our system of justice 0r maybe better asked, what has happened to our moral compassion?  Did John Edwards do wrong?  Well, he says he did, but regarding the consequence, seems to me that’s for the legal system to decide…yet, what I do know is that Every Choice Has A Consequence.  John Edwards choices are leading to the consequences he is facing today.

Pleading NOT GUILTY to a federal grand jury indictment on six counts, including conspiracy, issuing false statements and violating campaign contribution laws, John Edwards, former Democratic vice presidential nominee and two-time presidential candidate, acknowledged that he had “done wrong,” but denied breaking the law.

“There’s no question that I’ve done wrong,” Edwards told reporters. “But I did not break the law and I never, ever thought I was breaking the law.”

I understand Edwards comments…I really get the truth in what he is saying.  Yet, “ever thinking about breaking the law” and breaking the law are two different things.  As a convicted felon (not proud of that fact, but it is a fact), I never thought I was doing wrong until I had to face the truth and see that the illusion I created was in fact nothing more than an elaborate lie – the truth was I was then (not now) a liar and a thief.  Perhaps now Edwards is coming to see reality – not the illusion he lived under for so long.

Released on his own recognizance, Edwards was ordered to surrender his passport and remain within the lower 48 states and if convicted on all counts, Edwards would face up to 30 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1.5 million.

THE ILLUSION?

The question is whether money given to support Edwards’ mistress, Rielle Hunter, by benefactors of Edwards should have been considered campaign donations, a contention Edwards’ team has disputed.  Here is the foundation of the illusion.  Is it possible that cover up (some $900,000) money given for a person running a public campaign can be anything other than a campaign donation?

A CNN Report states the following:

While prosecutors believe the monetary help given to Hunter by two of Edwards’ political backers should have been considered campaign donations, Edwards’ attorneys disagree.

“This is an unprecedented prosecution,” Craig said. “No one would have known or could be expected to know that these payments would be treated as campaign contributions, and there is no way Senator Edwards knew that fact either.”

Craig said the government’s theory of the case “is wrong on the facts and wrong on the law.”

The government is believed to be building its case that Edwards violated campaign finance law based on an 11-year-old advisory opinion issued by the Federal Election Commission, which asserted that a gift to a candidate for federal office would be considered a campaign contribution, a source with knowledge of the inquiry told CNN this week.

The decision, dated June 14, 2000, is known as “Harvey.” It’s named after a man named Phillip Harvey who sought guidance from the FEC because he wanted to give money to someone who was preparing to run for federal office, but didn’t want the money to be used for campaign purposes.

The opinion is important because Hunter received more than $1 million from two contributors, 100-year-old philanthropist Rachel “Bunny” Mellon of Virginia and attorney Fred Baron, who has since died.

Edwards’ attorneys have said that the payments were not and should not be considered political contributions. If they weren’t political contributions, what were they? The most widely reported theory — which the Edwards team has publicly neither confirmed nor denied — is that the money was given to keep Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, from finding out about his mistress and child.

The source with knowledge of the inner workings of the case and other legal observers have noted that the Harvey advisory opinion is shaky ground to base a federal prosecution on because it is not a black-letter federal statute, and apparently has not been cited in any important case law, or as legal authority behind any important court decisions.

Some experts have said the Justice Department will have a strong case in court if it can prove Edwards knew about the funds and what they were being used for — a contention he has denied.

WHERE FROM HERE?

John Edwards has made choices – the consequences he must now face.  The only issue I have (at least for the moment) is why we – the general public – are so willing to seal his fate and find joy in his indictment, conviction and punishment?  Is it possible that those who so quickly point fingers are unwilling to look in the mirror and see the illusions that they work hard to maintain?

WHAT DO YOU THINK?  YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!


Scott Brown Wins Massachusetts Senate Race – But Ethical Deicsion now – Does US House Push through Legislation before Brown is seated?

January 19, 2010

With 89% of the results counted, Republican Scott Brown won a major upset victory in Tuesday’s special election for the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by liberal Democrat Ted Kennedy.   The irony is that Kennedy was known for his strong support of Health Care Reform and Brown’s campaign was focused on being the 1 vote that could derail the proposal before the conference committee of the House and Senate.

US HOUSE CONSIDERS SLIPPERY TACTICS:

It is now reported that the House may be considering passing an unamended Senate health care measure.  If that were to take place then President Obama could sign the bill into law without considering to Brown’s vote.  A CNN article is here.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi added, “Whatever happens in Massachusetts, we will have quality, affordable health care for all Americans, and it will be soon.”

Several Democratic congressional sources tell CNN that having the House approve the Senate bill is probably the best of a series of bad options to pass health care reform in the event of a Brown victory.

ETHICS ISSUE:

As an ethics speaker and author…I must admit that I am amazed.  If Brown’s election is a representation of something larger than just a local Senate election (and with all the coverage – it is bigger), then how could our elected officials ignore the legislative process and deny Brown his opportunity to represent the people of MA.  It would appear that, should the House pass the Senate version, then it would be clear that “Change from politics as usual” that many people felt they were voting for was just a misguided belief.

What we see happen in the next few days will define our nation.  We are either a democracy that respects the will of the people or we have become so consumed with power, agenda and greed that we will have a much harder battle to restore respect and ethics to our government.

I hope that folks (regardless of your political persuasion), or better stated, government elected officials, will allow the legislative process to continue without making the unethical decision to force and agenda.

VOICE OF REASON:

Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia said in a statement Tuesday after Brown defeated Democrat Martha Coakley in the special election for the late Sen. Edward Kennedy’s seat.

“It is vital that we restore the respect of the American people in our system of government and in our leaders. To that end, I believe it would only be fair and prudent that we suspend further votes on health care legislation until Senator-elect Brown is seated.”

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!