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La Justicia por Pedro

July 6, 2010

Pedro Espada is innocent! 

…That is, he’s innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. 

That’s not some soft, liberal notion. It’s the law of the land. Or, at least, that’s the way it is supposed to work. 

The Dems seem to have forgotten this. 

They got together and said: “Uh-oh. We’ve got a problem on the integrity front. What are we going to do?” 

Then someone came up with the notion of finding the smarmiest lawmaker in Albany and kicking him out of the tree house. 

That’s what happened today, and it’s wrong. 

Of course, the case against Espada is strong. If only a fraction of what has been alleged is proven true, then he should go. 

But that hasn’t happened yet. He hasn’t had his day in court.   

This is Andrew Cuomo again. (He’s behind everything now.) And his impulse is a good one. He wants a clear sense of right and wrong in Albany again. We applaud that. 

But the move is premature. Moreover, it is not intellectually consistent. We’re not referring to the fact that plenty of other lawmakers have gotten into worse trouble and not been kicked out of the party. It’s simply not a good response to cite all of the other rogues and say: “Hey, you didn’t do it with them. Why are you picking on Pedro?” No, as leader of the party, Cuomo has the right and responsibility to set a higher standard. The problem in this situation is that this conduct is not unique to Espada.  We’re not saying that all lawmakers have similar problems, but it’s ridiculous to think that Espada is the only one. Are others going to be booted under this new standard? Or just the mavericks in the party? Just the headaches? Just the Hispanics? 

The Dems could have done any number of more appropriate things to address this situation. They could have passed stronger ethics laws. They could have established a truly independent legislative ethics panel. They could have replaced the ineffectual and scandal-plagued Public Integrity Commission. They could even have retained independent ethics experts to conduct a thorough internal review, and committed to implementing recommended reforms. Cuomo could have pushed for any or all of these. 

Instead, it sure seems like he and Dems got together to pick a convenient scapegoat.


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