Friday, June 03, 2005
As Matt Gouras of the Associated Press reports, Tennessee state senator John Ford resigned last week following his arrest last Thursday on charges of accepting payoffs. Ford was one of five current or former Tennessee politicians at the center of an FBI sting operation, and is now under house arrest.
This is not the first time Ford has faced public scrutiny. During his time in public office, he has also lost paternity suits, used campaign money for his daughter's wedding, and lost a suit against him for sexual harassment. The current charge is that he accepted $55,000 from a fictional company set up by the FBI to push legislation through the Tennessee legislature. He also faced an impending investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee into why Ford was paid some $429,000 by a state contractor.
While we here at TheRestofUs.org tend to focus on the more insidious role that money plays in American politics today, Ford serves as a reminder that there is no shortage of greedy, self-interested throwbacks to the days of Tammany Hall serving as representatives of the people around this country. While it is important to stay vigilant against such blatant violations of the public trust, we should keep in mind that sometimes contributions that seem relatively small can have the same corrupting effect on our democracy, and should tailor any campaign finance solution to fit that problem.