I would note that while I was away from the computer for a few days, the folks at Media Matters for America took issue with this post. They noted that prosecutors had sought only a year in prison for Joseph C. Salema, the former chief of staff to New Jersey governor James Florio, and that the U.S. Attorney’s office released a statement that the sentence imposed “sends a clear message that corruption in the municipal securities industry will not be tolerated.”
But this argument from MMfA only seems exculpatory if you believe that a cumulative year in a halfway house and home detention are synonymous with a year in prison; yet if given a choice, I’m sure you would pick the former over the latter.
The bottom line is, do you think that appropriate punishment for the governor’s chief of staff, one of the most powerful figures in the state, being caught in a kickback scheme is six months of home detention, six months in a halfway house, a $10,000 fine and community service? Sonia Sotomayor thought that the prosecutors’ aim of a year in prison was too harsh. Obviously the prosecutors will put their best spin on it and call a win a win, but to a lot of eyes, that’s a light sentence for a crooked political figure. Media Matters wants to knock down anything negative about Sotomayor, and so they’ll try to persuade you she’s tough on political corruption. But in this case, she wasn’t.