Ethics in elected office has been a big topic of discussion since the latter part of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The highest profile issues are those surrounding President-Elect Trump, who still hasn’t shared his taxes with the public, and apparently doesn’t intend to distance himself from his business holdings; and from his roster of administration appointments in which billionaire tycoons and former lobbyists figure heavily.
Apparently Republicans aren’t interested in questioning anybody’s ethics but those of Democrats.
Emboldened by majorities in the House and Senate, as well as control of the Oval Office, Congressional Republicans attempted to castrate the independent Office of Congressional Ethics. That effort was scrapped only twenty-four hours later, when news of the sly maneuver reached the greater constituency and all hell broke loose.
Still, it was a reminder to me to check on the progress of Vermont’s own belated attempt to establish ethics rules in the wake of the sensational Norm McAllister sexual assault scandal.
Efforts to establish a State Ethics Panel were allowed to languish and die before summer recess. In a measure of progress, though, the Senate’s own version, propelled forward by the McAllister debacle, does establish certain new disclosure guidelines for senators.
With the 2017 winter session comes new hope that a State Ethics Commission, which already has broad support in the Senate, will finally obtain House approval. It’s far from all we might wish for, but it’s better than nothing.
Here in Franklin County, the salacious topic of Norm McAllister’s unwholesome appetites simply refuses to go away. Shortly after a jury was selected to hear the case of the second of his three alleged victims, it was announced that Mr. McAllister had copped a plea to avoid a trial and was facing up to seven years in the sentencing phase, but would avoid potential penalties (up to life in prison) for the most serious charges.
That was Tuesday. Today came the news that McAllister had told WPTZ that he “might” change his mind.
While I would relish the opportunity to finally hear McAllister being examined on a witness stand, I can’t imagine that the continued suspense provides anything but further suffering for his victims.
Who knows whether he will really change his plea? This is the same guy who has essentially both admitted to and denied his guilt in the assorted pre-trial depositions.
In Post-Truth America I suppose we shouldn’t be at all surprised.