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White Collar Crime Equals No Time

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BOBBY HARRELL GETS A SLAP ON THE WRIST, AS EXPECTED

liz gunnBy LIZ GUNN || After pleading guilty to six out of nine charges of misusing campaign funds, as reported earlier today by FITS, Bobby Harrell will not be headed up the proverbial river. I’m not picking on Bobby Harrell – he isn’t the first elected official to defraud people, and certainly won’t be the last. As a matter of fact, it is safe to assume there is more to come from this story given the details of his plea agreement.

What is confusing to me is that the punishment handed down to our elected officials seems to be no more than a slap on the wrist, most times. It’s as if to say that their public shame and “fall from grace” is punishment enough. But why?

If a woman finds a debit card lying on the ground and decides to go shopping with it, committing fraud, she would likely end up in jail. If a man gets pulled over and is found to be under the influence of alcohol, he is likely going to jail. There are a lot of people in jail right now for non-violent crimes like failure to pay child support, petty theft and vandalism.

Nearly all elected officials run on a platform of trust, accountability, transparency or other key words that apparently mean nothing once in office. Shouldn’t they actually be held to a higher standard, seeing as how they have put themselves out there as a trusted public servant? Not only have they committed crimes, they have defrauded every citizen who voted for them and / or contributed to their campaign in any way. They should be sentenced at the same level as other non-violent criminals.

I have a hard time believing that a person who has been charged with six counts of shoplifting or six counts of vandalism or six counts of just about anything is going to get off without any jail time. But Bobby Harrell, who plead guilty but maintains he did nothing wrong, will not experience life behind bars. To me, it doesn’t really matter what information he may come forward with regarding our other corrupt leaders, because it’s likely they will all be treated just like this.

Until we have legitimate prosecution of white collar criminals, not just simple probation and a “cooperation agreement”, this is the kind of behavior we can all expect from a lot of our so called leaders. Harrell’s political career may be over, but aside from that – not much has changed for him. He’ll get right back to pedaling insurance like nothing ever happened.

And that six figure dollar amount he has to be pay back? Gee, I wonder where that will come from. Perhaps he can create a bidding war for his silence.

Liz Gunn is a wife, mom, travel enthusiast, food snob, daydreamer and lifelong Gamecock fan. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, she lives in Columbia, S.C. with her husband and daughter.