When cold, hard cash starts getting shelled out, ethics can quickly go by the wayside.
While that’s not true for all elected officials, that sentiment has been proven to be right on the money in far too many cases. Especially for Democrats.
Another example of that has emerged from the state of Maryland. As expected, the person at the center of the case contends that this is all some kind of giant misunderstanding. However, the former Democratic lawmaker was caught red-handed, thanks to video evidence!
Washington Post has the details.
Former Maryland state Del. Michael L. Vaughn argued that the bundles of cash he collected from liquor store owners and a lobbyist in 2015 and 2016 were merely campaign contributions — expressions of appreciation from constituents that he failed to report because he was in a personal financial hole.
But what campaign contribution, federal prosecutors asked, is picked up in a Starbucks bathroom? Palmed in a dark restaurant? Or collected in a car outside a sandwich shop and immediately deposited in a bank?
None, prosecutors said, because they were bribes, not donations.
A jury has agreed with the prosecution, as Vaughn has been found guilty of conspiracy and bribery.
The prosecution laid out a case to explain that Vaughn accepted cash in exchange for votes that would see liquor sales expanded across Prince George’s County. The defense notes that they “respect the verdict,” but attorney William Purpura also felt the need to add in this little nugget:
“Obviously, Michael Vaughn is disappointed. . . . Mike believed in his own mind that he did not take cash to influence his vote.”
Hmmm. That’s a little strange, especially when you consider the preponderance of the evidence that points to the fact that he did.
In one video captured by a government informant at a restaurant, Vaughn is asked if he wanted the money at that moment.
“Sure, ain’t nobody in here,” Vaughn replies on the video, which was aired in court.
He then leans over to see if anyone is around before palming money slid to him from across a table.
Nothing to see here, right?
Just a little exchange of cash between a constituent and an elected official to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
It’s unclear which part is more laughable: that Vaughn is ‘disappointed’ with the outcome, or what he actually ‘believed in his own mind’ to justify his shady behavior.