Politics & Policy

Just How Far Does Cleveland Dems’ Corruption Reach?

The recent scandal in Cleveland regarding corrupt Democrat Jimmy Dimora is provoking some interesting questions.

A story today in the Cleveland Plain-Dealer asks the painful question of why Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason did nothing about the corruption:

Given Mason’s amazing political reach and obvious sophistication, it is difficult to accept any claim that he was unaware of the corruption. The investigative power of a prosecutor is also substantial, as is the ability to use the grand jury as a device to uncover wrongdoing.[…]

The conclusions that could be drawn from this situation are several. The kindest is that Mason is incompetent due to his being entirely unaware of the pervasive rot that had spread throughout the public offices of Cuyahoga County. This, however, is difficult to accept, given Mason’s political contacts, sophistication and undeniable leadership role in the county’s political system. If incompetence is not the answer, then we, unfortunately, move to other possibilities, including that Mason was aware of the wrongdoing but chose to look the other way under some twisted concept of party loyalty or the idea that what was occurring was acceptable political patronage rather than criminal activity.

A third possibility is that Mason was a knowing part of this system and both distributed and received benefits from it in the way of other participants. Certainly there are some indications of questionable deals. These include the special employment arrangement given campaign contributor Michael Climaco, a significant reduction in the taxable base for Mason’s residence and the lucrative contract given Peter Szigeti, who was not only a Mason employee but was awarded consultant payments of more than $1.1 million, contributed to Mason’s campaign war chest and designed his political website.

Imagine: a powerful official who ignored corruption from political allies in order to stay in on a ring of patronage and continue to prop up a machine with national implications for powerful Democrats who wanted to ensure their own victory in a city that’s known for its corruption and lack of a functional city government.

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