>It's hard to imagine former Bush Administration officials suffering any consequences for multiple violations of federal electioneering law detailed by the Office of Special Counsel. Accountability, it seems, is for little people, or relatively little people, like elderly, former Boston City Council member Chuck Turner, sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for accepting a single $1000 bribe from a government informant and making false statements to federal agents. Turner was videotaped accepting a barely visible wad of cash in a federal sting; since federal agents failed to count out on tape the amount of money given to the informant it's impossible to know how much he passed on to Turner and how much he may have skimmed off the top.
Outside the courtroom, Turner could plausibly claim he was entrapped -- it's hard to find a good reason for federal prosecutors to spend tens of thousands of dollars targeting a 70 year old local council member and community activist with no history of corruption. But from the beginning, Turner irritated prosecutors by grandstanding, claiming that he'd been targeted on account of race, presenting himself as a civil rights martyr and the victim of a government conspiracy initiated by the Bush Administration, which investigated him in the course of investigating another black elected official, recently sentenced, justifiably, for corruption. He hurt himself immeasurably at trial by testifying most implausibly on his own behalf. Then, exacerbating the self-inflicted damage, Turner continued insisting on his innocence after he was convicted, showing none of the requisite remorse and attacking the integrity of the prosecution. Apparently, that is a de facto federal offense, a criminal exercise of First Amendment rights.