They Think the Rules Don’t Apply to Them

As he has written in the past, one of the problems The Curmudgeon has long had with the Clintons, both Bill and Hill, is that they seem to think that the rules that apply to the rest of us don’t apply to them. This quality is maddeningly common among public officials.

When they got involved in the Whitewater business Clinton was attorney general of Arkansas and looking to supplement his annual salary of $25,000. Did Clinton do anything against the law in that matter? Apparently not. But should he have been involved in a real estate development project while he was his state’s top law enforcement official? Of course he shouldn’t have.

Yeah, they knew better – and they did it anyway

Did he tell us that he didn’t have sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky? Yes – and let us say, strictly for the sake of discussion, that he did not have sexual intercourse with her. But was there “sex”? Of course there was. Was what he did wrong? Of course it was.

Did Hillary do something illegal or even unethical when she took large speaking fees from Wall Street interests? Absolutely not. But was it the wrong thing to do in light of her continuing aspiration (at the time) to be president? Of course it was.

Did Hillary break any laws when she conducted State Department business through her own private server? Apparently not. But was it wrong? Of course it was. Should she have known better? Of course she should have.

The Curmudgeon dredges up this old news because two things have happened recently that remind him that there’s a difference between doing things that are against the law and things that are just plain wrong and that we see public officials doing those wrong things far too often.

Davidson

A few weeks ago the Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Margo Davidson, a Pennsylvania state representative, has been charged twice already this year with driving with a suspended license – and doing so in a car leased for her by Pennsylvania’s state government and paid for by Pennsylvania taxpayers. Ever the good steward of the public’s trust, Davidson’s first citation came in January when she fled the scene of an accident and was found to lack a valid driver’s license; actually, she received three citations for this accident. Apparently not chastened by her experience, a few weeks later she was cited again when she crashed her state vehicle and the officers at the scene again learned that she didn’t have a valid driver’s license.

It turns out that Davidson got a speeding ticket in Virginia in 2016 and didn’t pay the fine. When that happens, Virginia notifies Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania suspends the perpetrator’s license until the matter is resolved. That’s the way this kind of thing apparently works.

So why didn’t Davidson pay the Virginia speeding ticket? The Inquirer explained:

Asked why it took so long to pay the Virginia ticket, Davidson said via text: “I paid and sent [it] as soon as I was in [the] position to do so. I am not sitting around twiddling my thumbs every day. … I am, in fact, serving 62,000 people.”

So there!

In other words, being a state representative is more important than following the rules or the law and the standards that apply to the rest of us shouldn’t apply to her – because she’s serving 62,000 people.

Wilson

Last week there was a similar situation in Washington, D.C., where public schools chancellor Antwan Wilson was forced to resign when it was discovered that he had arranged for his daughter to be admitted to a magnet school whose student body is chosen by lottery – an admission that jumped her ahead of 600 students on the school’s waiting list. Amazingly, the city’s mayor – who herself has faced some ethical challenges surrounding her campaign fund-raising activities – initially said she wouldn’t fire Wilson but the city’s council and the public rose in protest and the mayor eventually had to prevail upon Wilson to resign. His crime: not an actual crime, but like the Clintons, was thinking that the commonsense rules that we all understand shape our societal interactions don’t apply to them and that they’re free to circumvent those rules whenever it’s convenient for them to do so.

Like state representative Davidson.

Rizzo

Like former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price chartering private planes or current EPA administrator Scott Pruitt flying first class in violation of federal guidelines

Like 1970s Philadelphia mayor Frank Rizzo getting a developer to build him a huge house at cost or 1980s Philadelphia mayor Wilson Goode getting dozens of free suits from a local clothier.

Like all those Philadelphia politicians and Pennsylvania’s governor buying Super Bowl tickets from the Philadelphia Eagles for face value when tickets were going for ten to twenty times as much on the secondary ticket market.

Like Donald Trump Jr. flying to India to sell condos and an audience with him (only $38,000!) and the implicit access to his daddy while protected by Secret Service agents at taxpayer expense.

We all know what people think they’re getting when they pay $38,000 to meet with him

Are they breaking the law? Usually they’re not (although Margo Davidson clearly did). But are they breaking the rules we all generally agree to abide by? Every single day, or at least so it seems.

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