Today it made the editorial page (picture Jack Markell picking up the phone and saying, "Guys? What gives? I need some cover here.")
It is embarrassing. It would have been better to keep silent.
The WNJ editorial board is pleased that the special prosecutor recommended no accountability, and is quite ready to excoriate all the right people:
Former liquor executive Christopher Tigani was the biggest offender. He has already pleaded guilty to a variety of campaign finance law violations, including reimbursing employees who made campaign contributions.Then there's this:
One businessman, Michael Zimmerman, claimed representatives of Gov. Jack Markell’s campaign recommended he reimburse employees who made contributions. However, the report notes Mr. Zimmerman, who pleaded guilty to a felony charge for illegal contributions, could not recall who told him that. Investigators also could not find any proof of it either.And, of course, this:
Sen. David McBride, apparently took beer and vodka from the Tigani group. The only debate is whether he took these gifts on a regular or semi-regular basis. Either way is shameful.What is truly interesting is that Governor Jack Markell never appears in the editorial as a noun, only an adjective, like here:
Michael Zimmerman claimed representatives of Gov. Jack Markell’s campaign recommended he reimburse employees who made contributions.And here:
The report notes that on one occasion the Markell campaign did not clarify the ownership and at other times the contributors did not understand the differences. When that was pointed out, the Markell campaign passed the money along to a charity.It's pretty simple, actually: by never mentioning the governor as a person, the WNJ Editorial Board chooses to sanitize, minimize, or even erase any possible connection between Governor Jack Markell (the noun) and "Gov. Jack Markell's campaign" (the adjective), and especially between Governor Jack Markell (the noun) and other nouns like Christopher Tigani or Michael Zimmerman.
Instead, mentioning only one politician in the entire state by name--Senator Dave McBride--the WNJ Editorial Board lambasts his conduct as "shameful" (even though there is far less grounds to suspect gigantic influence peddling in his case than in the adjectival Governor's), and completely omits any reference to Senator Dave Sokola (another Markell ally).
So that's it: the paper that fearlessly accused former Governor Ruth Ann Minner (after she had left office) of being corrupt, has taken on the role of the fearless Vichy French inspector in Casablanca: "We are shocked, shocked we tell you, to discover that influence peddling has been occurring in Delaware. Round up Senator McBride at once and have him shot!"
"What? Yes, of course, Governor. No, your name will be kept out of it entirely. And should I send your winnings to the usual numbered Swiss account?"
A postscript: there have been occasions when I have lambasted (and sometimes unfairly, I think, in retrospect) some of the wNJ's hard-working news staff. Reporters like Nichole Dobo, Wade Malcolm, Jonathan Starkey, and Matthew Allbright do the very best they can under circumstances that the public generally doesn't ever get to see or know about.
But I've also worked with the WNJ Editorial Board as a member of the Community Advisory Board.
They're smart people. They know better than this.