Finneran was a very powerful man in 2001. With a Republican governor in a state controlled by Democrats, he had no rival. His style of ruling did not tolerate dissent. He wasn’t someone who agreed to disagree. He wasn’t someone who respected opinions that differed with his. In his house you had to vote with him, on every issue, or there were severe repercussions. Committee memberships, fundraising, earmarking, and office space were all tools of his power. He was smart and skilled and was able to bend the state house to his will. He kept on winning his battles, year after year. He didn’t think he could lose.
In 2001, several voters’ rights groups fought the redistricting plan approved by Finneran’s house. They claimed the redistricting hurt minority groups. I don’t think that the minority groups were Finneran’s target. Minorities were just collateral damage as Finneran re-wrote districts to eliminate his foes and reward friends. Look at the original plan in October of 2001 – there were clear winners and losers, and the losers were reps who opposed Finneran.
Finneran thought that the lawsuit couldn’t harm him. His redistricting might be overturned, but that would be the worst of it. That is where Finneran finally made a mistake that could hurt him. He failed to realize that he was in an arena where he didn’t write the rules. In the state house, he could always make it so that his way was the right way. The federal courthouse was in his state, but it wasn’t in his jurisdiction.
He took the stand in 2003. He lied. He lied repeatedly. He brazenly said that he didn’t approve the redistricting plan. He said that he didn’t give input for it. He said that he had never seen the plan. He claimed not to even remember the name of the district that he represented. He took an oath to tell the truth, and he lied.
It finally caught up with him, and he pleads guilty. Now he’s a felon. He paid a $25,000 fine. He lost his job.
But his severance package is four times as large as his fine, and he already has a new job at WRKO. I guess it’s a punishment, but not much of one.
As the week’s events unfolded, I found myself wondering if he’d changed. Did he learn from any of this? Is he humbled? Did he learn the error of his ways? I looked to his statement on the courthouse steps: “At a very young age, my mother, who is now 86, taught me to admit my mistakes clearly and without hesitation, and I have passed that lesson on to my own two daughters. Today I acknowledge, clearly and without any hesitation, my errors in judgment concerning my conduct in court on that day.”
Actions in 2001, perjury in 2003, admission of guilt in 2007. That qualifies as “without any hesitation”? Those aren’t the words of someone who has learned his lesson. Those are the words of someone who still thinks that he can make something false become true, just by saying it is so.
Crossposted on http://www.dandunn.o…