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It Shouldn’t Be Harder To Catch White Bribe-Takers Than Black Ones

The real news in the Richardson bribery convictions was that finally the feds caught some white people.EXPAND
The real news in the Richardson bribery convictions was that finally the feds caught some white people.
Jim Schutze
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My well-known modesty, one of my many admirable personal traits, won’t allow me to tell The Dallas Morning News how to do its job. But if I had been the editor on that story last week about a suburban mayor and her husband getting convicted on federal bribery charges, the headline would have been, “WHITE PEOPLE!”

I mean, c’mon. That’s the news, isn’t it? The FBI and the U.S. attorney finally went after some white folks. I was beginning to think there might be some kind of secret writing in the bribery laws protecting white people. I might have been tempted to take some bribes myself, were it not for my well-known scrupulous integrity.

Granted, it wasn’t the U.S. attorney here in Dallas, the one that serves the Northern District of Texas. It was U.S. Attorney Joseph D. Brown, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District, formerly the Grayson County DA. But the Richardson convictions came on the heels of the recent federal indictment here of a white real estate developer accused of paying bribes to an African-American member of the Dallas City Council. Given my famous fairness, I must reserve snide remarks on that one until we find out if the guy is guilty.

The thing that leaps out in the Richardson convictions is that it’s all white people, both of them, no black people involved at all. The ex-mayor and her boyfriend whom she eventually married, the stuff they did, everything about it, was all white. They even got married as a cover story. That’s so white. Here are two people accused of violating the public trust, selling out the very voters who put the mayor in office in the first place, both of them married when they started sleeping with each other, before they ditched their spouses. And they think getting married will cover it.

Now that is white.

We have this long, depressing litany of black officials in Dallas who have been nabbed and sent to prison for taking bribes, some for the rest of their lives and always for taking money from white people. But we have only a very scant history of white people getting popped. So, look, because of my admirable empathy, I do not take pleasure in seeing anybody loaded into the gray federal van with the bars on the windows, even when they deserve it. It’s a sad and dreary thing. I just think it balances the scales a bit to see some white folks in that van for a change, and especially from the suburbs.

Then we had the whole debate about whether former Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka (now Jordan) and her apartment-building, bribe-paying boyfriend, Mark Jordan, were truly in love or merely in lust. Oh, my God. The dude, Jordan, took the city for $47 million while he was screwing the mayor. We’re really going to talk about whether it was love or lust? Now that is white up one side and down the other. They’re in the sack; they’re making the two-backed beast; and the guy gets $47 million. Please can we not even mention the words, love and lust? We got the picture.

I know I’m known for not being biased, but the evidence in this case confirmed some of my own most deep-seated biases — for example, when public officials use the words “transparent” and “transparency.” I don’t know that it’s mainly white people who use those words, but my bias is that it is. There’s something white-sounding about those words to my ear.

Jurors heard a recording of a city work session in which the former Mayor Maczka, convicted last week with her boyfriend/husband on four counts of bribery and corruption, said, “I want to be completely transparent.” And then blah-blah-blah.

Yeah, that’s what I thought. When a public official says she or he is about to be “completely transparent,” it means she is about to set her pants on fire and start lying through her teeth. Notice they don’t say, “I am going to be honest.” “I am going to tell the truth.” They don’t say those things, probably because they’re afraid of getting struck down by a bolt of lightning, so they say “transparent.” I hate that word. I want to say, “What are you, a kitchen window?”

Former Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka could not have sent up more red flags if she robbed a bank.
Former Richardson Mayor Laura Maczka could not have sent up more red flags if she robbed a bank.

The jury also saw text messages in which Maczka told her friends, “I will never admit on television to anything.” In the age of the Kardashians, is that the new standard? As long as you don’t admit it on TV, you’re not guilty? I’d like to blame that one on white people, too, but I’m not confident. It might be more widespread. It seems to be coming from the White House, as well, although that’s a pretty white place, too, lately.

One of the emails shown the jury was from Mark Jordan, the bribe-payer, to the former mayor, the taker, saying, “Love to manipulate. Now I'm excited.” So this is a guy who gets “excited” thinking about how smart he is. Oh, we all know what color that is.

And how smart were you in the end, Mr. Orange Pantsuit? Not smart enough, we guess. Definitely not smart enough to get all that excited about yourself. Next time, stick with lust.

Brown, the U.S. attorney, took some victory laps after the verdicts, and even though I’m known for not begrudging, I do have to begrudge a bit. He said of the mayor and her bribe-paying squeeze, “These people are professionals. They're smart. But even if they're hard, you have to take these cases.”

I’d like to go back over the smart part. Where was that, exactly? I’m not sure I get it. Maczka ran for mayor on her opposition to more apartments in Richardson. She starts having a fairly flagrant affair with Jordan, a guy who wants the city to give him $47 million so he can build more apartments in Richardson. All of a sudden she’s in favor of more apartments in Richardson. Red flag much? How is that different from robbing a bank and then coming back in with the dye-stained cash to set up a checking account? I’m not seeing the high IQ aspect.

Federal prosecutors showed jurors bank statements and travel records establishing that before the pair were married the boyfriend gave the mayor $60,000 in cash, spent $15,000 on trips with her to high-end resorts in California and Utah, spent $24,000 renovating her house and then gave her a $150,000 job with a $15,000 signing bonus. Meanwhile, she’s using her public office and power to push for him to get $47 million from the city so he can build the apartments she promised the voters she would oppose.

OK, I’m just saying that doesn't sound to me like the work of master conspirators. So how hard is it? In fact, how can you have an elected official behaving in that flagrantly suspicious a manner and not get suspicious?

I am not making excuses for black elected officials in Dallas who have gotten themselves nabbed by the feds for taking bribes over the years. It’s everybody’s own lookout not to get nabbed by the feds. My own secret strategy for not spending the rest of my life in a federal penitentiary has always been to try really hard never to do anything that’s a federal offense. If some people can’t keep that straight, then they’re on their own.

But it does seem to me that the triggering behaviors, the things that first put the feds on the scent, should be as easy to spot in the white folks as in the black. Wait a minute, you said if you were elected you would fight against more apartments? Now you’re for more apartments? And you want this guy to get $47 million so he can build them? And you just went to Utah with him? TRIGGER!

This is all terribly complicated, I know, by our racial views. When some black people get elected to office — I have seen this with my own eyes — they do, in fact, become arrogant and start walking around like they’re movie stars or something, like they deserve to be taken to Utah. The whole trick, it seems to me, is understanding that some white people do exactly the same thing. And you know why? Because they’re all people. They all have feet of clay.

Why would it be harder to catch the white ones? Just tell me. The more white and suburban they are, the more credit cards they have. The more plane tickets. It should be easier, not harder to make a case.

Is it — hey, just asking, just asking — is it that so many FBI agents and federal prosecutors in this world are white people, and it’s harder for white people to spot the tells in each other? Some black guy gets elected and starts getting excited about manipulating, the white people spot it in him Monday morning. But a white guy is excited about manipulating, and the white people around him just think he’s cool. I don’t know. That’s all speculation, and I am famous for not speculating, so I won’t do it. Anymore.

Let’s just accent the positive. Even though we are not going to gloat, it’s a very positive thing for the white suburban mayor and her boyfriend/husband to get loaded into the van, because at least that shows it’s possible. Wouldn’t it be great if we could get some of that a little closer to home, though?

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