posted on September 01, 2006 10:34
Last Spring, when the State Board of Elections held hearings into the pay-to-play scandals, the Board asked House Speaker Jim Black if he was paying Representative Michael Decker’s legal bills. (Representative Michael Decker later plead guilty to accepting a $50,000 bribe to change parties and vote for Black for Speaker). Black told the Board no, not for this matter.
Then last week the Associated Press reported one of Black’s political committees had paid Decker’s attorney $10,000.
Black was probably telling the truth when he told the Board ‘no, not in this matter’. But he was also parsing words: it was the caveat – not for this matter – that was important and not the ‘no.’ What the Board was asking was if Decker had an obligation to Black. The Speaker gave them part of the picture – but not all of it.
Black probably dodged an awkward question with his answer – he wasn’t seen as paying the legal bills for Representative Decker when he took the Fifth Amendment and refused to testify at the Board Hearing.
But in the larger sense Black may have done himself a disservice because by only answering part of the Board’s question Black may undermined confidence in his leadership once more.
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