Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The case that just won’t wither away

Political observers have been so caught up in the pending fate of Jesse Jackson, Jr., that it almost seems like the case surrounding Bill Beavers has withered away.
BEAVERS: Will he speak?

It hasn’t!

IN FACT, THIS particular legal battle will come back to life this week, as the postponed trial of the Cook County commissioner will finally get underway – after having started up back in December, only to be put on hold ‘til this week.

It is interesting for the way that the Jackson and Beavers families have tried to set themselves up as the political powerbrokers for the South Side. Now, it’s like the area is leader-less.

In fact, I recall one political pundit suggesting that the special primary election for the Illinois Second Congressional District seat was influenced by that fact – since local voters for the first time in a long time didn’t have a Jackson or a Beavers telling them who they should vote for.

Could Robin Kelly’s efforts to gain influence in the Congressional post be aided by the fact that she may not have either a Jackson or a Beavers standing in her way to try to keep her from becoming too powerful?

THERE IS A sad aspect to this political situation – mostly that both Jackson and Beavers appear to have been taken down for “criminal” affairs that border more on stupid than venal!

Jackson is the guy who pleaded guilty recently (and faces sentencing some time in June) for using money from his campaign fund to make all kinds of personal purchases.
JACKSON: Awaiting his fate

He’s going to be the guy who took all those financial donations made to his fund and used them to buy Michael Jackson’s hat (too bad he couldn’t get the iconic glove!) and all kinds of other bits of “memorabilia.”

I suppose he could have tried claiming that he was buying them to decorate the Congressional office, and that they would have been passed down to whomever eventually succeeded him in office. I wouldn’t have bought it, mainly because I would think a future member of Congress wouldn’t want to be burdened with such junk.

AT LEAST BEAVERS didn’t bother to accumulate all kinds of junk with the purchases he made using campaign funds that federal prosecutors want to claim are criminal in nature.

For Beavers is the guy who, like many other South Side residents, likes to indulge his gambling tendencies at the casinos in Northwest Indiana.

Not that far across State Line Road, literally, is the Horseshoe Casino, where prosecutors say he spent a good share of the $225,000 in campaign funds that was not properly reported as income (which means paying a share of it as taxes to the Internal Revenue Service).

As though if Beavers had reported the income and paid taxes, there’d be nothing illegal about him using the rest of the money to gamble with.

NOT THAT THE public would feel that way. They’d be just as outraged. But this is the technicality upon which the feds will be out to get Beavers. Which literally does make it seem a bit like Al Capone – except that Beavers’ underlying actions are nothing more than being a political blowhard (not like Capone being the bootlegger in violation of the now-defunct Volstead Act).

KELLY: No Jackson or Beavers in her way

What will be interesting about this case is whether anyone buys into Beavers’ claim that he’s being persecuted by the federal government because he wouldn’t wear a wiretap and help gain evidence against fellow Cook County commissioner John Daley.

I’m skeptical, in part because that “Daley” name is held just a bit too sacred by too many people. Besides, the only way Beavers gets to bring up that claim during his trial is if he’s willing to actually say it for himself by testifying.

Beavers using his sense would keep his mouth shut. But then that turns this trial into a petty tax case that was hardly worth the government’s effort to prosecute – except to the degree that it satisfied the political partisanship of certain people who couldn’t beat Beavers (or Jackson, for that matter) on Election Day.


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