March 5, 2010

Fitzroy Plays the Race Card

It's bad enough that former Miramar commissioner Fitzroy Salesman is trying to argue that he's honest while having a name like Salesman, but it turns out his real problem isn't that he got caught accepting bribes to convince the City of Miramar to award bids to someone other than the lowest bidder.

It's that he's black.

The Sun-Sentinel reports that his defense, rather than argue that he didn't take the money, has chosen to accuse the Federal Bureau of Investigation of racial profiling.
"The government sought out to blemish the record of several of the most prestigious African-American elected officials in Broward County," Salesman's attorney Jamie Benjamin wrote in court documents filed Friday
"It might be coincidental that this approximately four-year investigation involved mostly African-American elected officials but given the small number of African-American elected officials in Broward County and the methods used by the United States government to try and bring the honest elected officials … into corruption, one must wonder and give this Court concern,"
That's a pretty serious accusation. They gloss over the bigger coincidence that they found an actual criminal while committing this alleged racial profiling.

They offer evidence to back up their case: when Salesman offered to introduce the undercover agents to other politicians in a position to help them win a contract, they were interested.

But aren't they supposed to be? If an undercover agent discovers one criminal, and that criminal says "hey, you like that crime? I know another guy who does that crime. Wanna meet him," and offers to hook you up, aren't you supposed to go for it? Two birds, one stone, and all that?

One of them, Lauderdhill City Commissioner Dale Holness, turned down them down flat:
"They tested me but that's not the kind of person I am," Holness said. "I really distanced myself from Salesman after that and I think I talked to him maybe one time since that. I found the approach very distasteful."
Holness wasn't arrested or accused of breaking the law. Offered a chance to take a bribe, he turned it down. If this were the racist witch hunt that Salesman's defense team claims it to be, wouldn't they have simply kept after Holness until they managed to implicate him?

Are we supposed to be offended that a black politician is connected to other black politicians within the same county?

Another black politician who was approached at Salesman's suggestion was State Rep Hazel Rogers.
Rogers was approached in a similar way, and the "government reached out to try to put money in her pocket so that she would be guilty of a crime," Benjamin wrote. He did not respond to a request for further details. Rogers told the Sun Sentinel that she was not aware of any improper approach that was made to her. "Thank God, I do things the way they should be done," Rogers said.
So we're supposed to believe that these two black politicians, whom Salesman led the undercover agents to in the first place, who both turned down bribes and have not been implicated in any crime, are victims of the federal government because Salesman approached them?

Let's face it, if Salesman had the moral high ground, he'd have turned down the bribe in the first place. And if he had just a scrap of moral fiber, when the feds asked if he knew other politicians who would cooperate for a price, he'd have told them to screw off.

Instead, he asked for a cut, and went knocking on doors.

In an earlier move by his defense team to have the charges dismissed because the laws under which he was charged were, in the words of his defense team, "so vague as to be unconstitutional."

U.S. District Judge James I. Cohn dismissed this argument rather succinctly:
"Certainly, accepting a bribe cannot, under any circumstance, be considered an honest service on the part of the elected official,'' Cohn wrote.
Notice that Salesman's defense isn't arguing that he didn't accept a bribe and deliver the goods: he can't deny he didn't do it because he was caught doing it red-handed when he accepted the bribe from the agents, and then went on to arrange the deal for them. That leaves only two approaches; 'fess up and do the time, or squirm and find some way to make accepting a bribe to usurp the rule of law legal.

No, Salesman wasn't investigated and charged because he was black: he was investigated and charged because he's a criminal.

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