What’s insignificant about raw greed and manipulation?
In the skewed, leftwing world of the Arizona Republic, the FBI sting that netted corrupt politician Ben Arredondo, was a “mind-boggling waste of time.” In this morning’s sole, lengthy editorial the newspaper takes the position that the man who entered into a plea agreement recommending a sentence between 27 months and 51 months in prison is nothing more than “small fry.”
His plea was quite a deal. But he got off easier still with his recent slap-on-the-wrist sentence. Last October Arredondo, 65, pleaded guilty in federal court to two felonies related to public corruption. Each felony count carried a maximum prison sentence of up to 20 years and $250,000 in fines. Up to $50,000 in restitution could also apply. The plea deal included his resignation from the Arizona Legislature.
Among his brazen bad acts, the devious former state Rep. Arredondo sought donations for a college scholarship fund he had ostensibly set up for needy students. He then provided nearly $50,000 from the account to help his own relatives attend Arizona colleges.
Let’s not forget that this “small fry” was indicted on federal counts of bribery, mail fraud, false statements and extortion in connection with soliciting and accepting thousands of dollars in sport and charity event tickets along with other perks from FBI undercover agents in exchange for brokering property deals. The crimes occurred while Arredondo was a Tempe City Council member.
The Republic takes the position that there have been worse cases of politicians who run afoul of the law. And who do they pointedly name? Two Republican governors, of course. And “the AzScammers” lumped under that single title so they don’t have to name Democrats such as Senate Majority Whip Carolyn Walker, who holds the distinction of being the first senator in Arizona history to be expelled. In the early 1990’s AZSCAM sting, Walker greedily took $15,000 but asked for $750,000 to start a record company, while angling for gift shop concessions in casino hotels she hoped to bring into the state in exchange for selling her vote. Sen. Jesus “Chuy” Higuera merely wanted the shrimp concessions. Joining them was state Rep. Bobby Raymond, who also went to jail, as did Rep. Sue Laybe, videotaped counting out bribe money like a bank teller. Sting money she took was instrumental in winning her reelection in a swing district. In the sting, votes were being purchased in favor of bringing [non-reservation] Las Vegas-style casinos into the state.
Among the prominent political figures implicated were George Stragalas, executive director of the Arizona Democrat Party and David Manley, chairman of the Maricopa County Democrat Party.
The 13-month long sting resulted in charges of bribery, money laundering and filing false election statements.
Was that also too long and a “mind-boggling waste of time” for an equal betrayal of public trust?