December 15, 2004
What price corruption?

If there's one thing I don't understand about the guilty plea copped by former Lee Brown chief of staff Oliver Spellman over a bribery charge, it's this:

Spellman, charged just last week, admitted that he accepted $2,000 from a consultant in July 2002 while serving as former Mayor Lee Brown's chief of staff.

"While I was in that position, I knowingly and willingly accepted money from an individual in return for favor in winning government contracts," Spellman said.

I figure that the Chief of Staff to the Mayor of the City of Houston earns something like $150K per year. That's a pretty nice piece of change wherever you live, but in a reasonably cheap place like Houston it can provide a very nice lifestyle. Given that, and putting aside any minor concerns like morality or respect for the law, I fail to understand how a measly two grand could be enough of an enticement to risk a felony conviction. I know anyone can experience cash flow problems, but come on. If you're going to sell your honor and integrity, you really owe it to yourself to get a better price for it than that.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on December 15, 2004 to Scandalized! | TrackBack

I read another story yesterday (maybe Kristin Mack's) that talked about his drinking and gambling problems. Sounds like he has some demons and needed money.

Also, since this is a plea deal, maybe he is only admitting to one bribe, but there were others.

Speculation, I know...

Posted by: Anne on December 15, 2004 7:55 AM

Yeah, I can see how gambling and drinking could push a person to do something like this, and maybe there were more charges that got dropped. I still think the itty bitty price he got for his "services" is the most pathetic part of this story.

Posted by: Charles Kuffner on December 15, 2004 9:43 AM

A few years back Dallas City Council member Al Lipscomb got busted for getting a measly $1000 a month from a cab company owner to vote his way on city issues. At the time the City Council didn't earn a salary and I don't know what Lipscomb was doing at the time (he was a pimp at one time, along with being a self-designated "civil rights leader"), but $12,000 a year is pretty paltry for going to federal prison.

Lipscomb was convicted, sentenced to house arrest because of his failing health and had his conviction overturned on a technicality, though no one ever denied he was guilty. Hell, he even said "yeah I took the money, but it didn't sway my vote" which was actually not true- the record clearly shows otherwise.

Posted by: Andrew D on December 15, 2004 5:18 PM

Perhaps the low rate for Spellman was because he had worked with the Cleveland people in the past, and that was what he was used to getting?

A "volume discount", in other words? :-)

Posted by: Steve Casburn on December 15, 2004 6:44 PM

The most amusing part of the Al Lipscomb story though, is what he does now. Lipscomb's successor to his council seat, James Fantroy appointed Lipscomb to the Police Oversight Board. Heh. Amusing.

Posted by: Byron L on December 19, 2004 4:55 PM