Thursday, November 20, 2008

Wilkerson Resigns from Massachusetts Senate

Dianne Wilkerson, the longtime State Senator from my electoral district in Massachusetts, yesterday resigned after 15 years of holding that office. Had she not resigned there would have been a vote to expel her from the Senate. The day before Wilkerson had been indicted on eight counts of bribery after being arrested late last month accepting bribes from undercover FBI agents. These videos were shown on local TV newscasts here in Boston with the embarrassing spectacle of Wilkerson stuffing cash into her bra. Ted Stevens has nothing on this woman.

Granted she is innocent until proven guilty. However, Wilkerson, the first African-American woman to be elected to the Massachusetts State Senate, has a long history of impropriety. She was placed under house arrest in the late 1990s for failing to pay federal income tax; ran afoul of the State Ethics Commission when she failed to disclose a bank she was lobbying for retained her as a consultant for $20,000; was investigated by the State Attorney General for failing to report campaign donations or explain $18,000 worth of personal reimbursements and committed perjury in a criminal trial involving her nephew.

Yet the people of the Second Suffolk District kept re-electing her. In 2006, however, she was challenged for the Democratic nomination by Sonia Chang-Diaz but Wilkerson turned back her challenge. However, Chang-Diaz would not be deterred and challenged Wilkerson again. This time Chang-Diaz won the Democratic primary. Wilkerson did try to launch a write-in campaign but her arrest a week before the election torpedoed her chances.

Yes, Chang-Diaz is a liberal Democrat which is about all you'll get here. She is also the first Hispanic woman to hold a seat in the State Senate. One can only hope she will avoid the potholes her predecessor was so eager to put her foot.

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