Cato Supreme Court Review (2004-2005)
RICO and 1983 From the Seventh Circuit

Good Riddance, Ernie

I was almost buying Connecticut State Senator Ernest Newton's jive the other night. There he stood on the evening news, funkified, dressed like in an odd melange of third-world chic and this-world business attire. He was resigning to spare the people another scandal, he said. Give the money that would be spent investigating him to the people, uhm-hmm, to jobs, A-men, to housing for the people, say Hallelujah.

His rhetoric was powerful. He was passionate. He was surrounded by people who loved him and they shared the pain of a promise stolen. He told the world he had been denied justice. Another black man slain on the altar of white hypocrisy.

It sounded good, and I almost bought it. But then I wondered: Hadn't someone just been convicted of bribing him? What's that make Newton? Listening to Newton he was an innocent victim of a conspiracy.

Days after his emotional televised farewell Newton appeared in a federal court to plead guilty to accepting a bribe. He had not yet been indicted. All that jive on the news the other nights was just rhetorical garbage; a chance to pretend to be a hero one last time. Dime Store Jive

Plea deals take time to work out. Newton played the race card when he knew the issue wasn't race, and he knew he wasn't a hero. He was getting ready to plead guilty to a federal offense -- the fifth Connecticut politician felled by federal prosecutors in recent years.

Shame on Mr. Newton. Race matters. There are thousands of black professionals succeeding without committing crimes or crying poor-me-and-my-race. Mr. Newton is a fraud, and an embarassment. He is not a black professional done wrong, he is a professional black who got caught out hussling. Good riddance, Ernie.

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