Ex-Virginia Lawmaker’s Unethical behavior earns Phillip A. Hamilton a 9 1/2 year prison sentence.

August 15, 2011

Ex-Lawmaker to Go to Prison in Old Dominion U. Case

August 12, 2011, 2:58 pm

Phillip A. Hamilton, a former state lawmaker in Virginia, was sentenced today in federal court to serve 9½ years in prison for arranging money to start a teaching center at Old Dominion University in 2007 and then becoming director of the center, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Mr. Hamilton was convicted in May on federal charges of bribery and extortion. He is to remain free until September 19, when he must report to prison authorities.

The above story reported in the Chronicle of Higher Education shows an interesting abuse of power for an elected official and a clear breach of ethics.  The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports as follows:

Phillip Hamilton, 59, a Newport News Republican who was once vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, was found guilty of bribery and extortion by a federal jury in May for arranging funding for a center at Old Dominion University in 2007.

In exchange for obtaining the $500,000 appropriation to start the Center for Teacher Quality and Educational Leadership, Hamilton, a career educator, was hired as its director and paid $80,000 over two years.

Choices and consequences.  An unethical use of power resulting in an $80,000 a year job equals 9.5 years in prison.  What a powerful price to pay for such a poor reward.  It goes to show that rarely if ever does the reward justify the consequence.

Hudson said reaching his decision on a sentence for Hamilton was the hardest he has had to make in 13 years as a judge. He said he took into account Hamilton’s clean record, his good works as an educator and legislator.

But he told Hamilton he had betrayed the public trust, “as well as put a stain on the great deliberative body you were elected to serve in.”

Hamilton’s arrangement with ODU was exposed by news reports in 2009. He was defeated for re-election later that year, ending more than two decades in the Virginia general Assembly.

The loss of public trust cost Hamilton his elected position, job and now earns him 9.5 years in prison.  Again, a clear indication that often the consequences of choices are far greater than the short term gain enjoyed by unethical actions.

If you know Hamilton – feel free to comment on his motives behind the actions reported above.