Something’s not quite right here …
So Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-New York) has walked out of his own ethics trial (he‛s facing 13 House counts of financial and fundraising misconduct) saying that 1) he never meant to defraud; he‛s just been a little sloppy and late when it came to filing financial disclosure forms and paying taxes; and 2) he‛s being treated unfairly and needs time to get a lawyer. (Not that this hasn‛t been going on for a while, but Chuck doesn’t seem to care a whole lot about pesky things like facts . . . )
This got us thinking about other politicians and their defenses and excuses when involved in ethics violations, fraud cases or other allegations of misconduct.
Herewith the cream of the crop, the politicians who truly deserve to win one of the “I Am Not a Crook” awards for creativity or simply sheer bravado when defending themselves against charges of corruption and the like.
• Best Excuse (municipal): New York City mayor David Dinkins . . .
who, when accused of failing to pay income taxes, found it the perfect moment to split hairs, by explaining (none too helpfully):
“I haven’t committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law.” He added that paying taxes “was one of the things I was always going to take care of, but sometimes I did not have all the funds available or I did not have all the documents or other materials I needed.” (He did eventually pay the back taxes, plus penalties and interest.)
Honorable mention goes to Washington DC mayor Marion Barry who, after being found in a so-called “gentlemen‛s club” (aka strip joint), clarified things by saying, “First, it was not a strip bar, it was an erotic club. And, second, what can I say? I’m a night owl.”
• Best Excuse (national): former Secretary of Housing Henry Cisneros . . .
who was caught lying to the FBI about payments he had made to his mistress. His pithy excuse is a brilliant “lost in the ether” explanation:
“I’ve attributed it to the pressure and confused sort of fog of the moment where I gave an incorrect number.”