“If you’ve got the money honey, I’ve got the time; we’ll go honky tonkin’ and we’ll have a time.”
I like to think of that song (“If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got The Time,” by Willie Nelson) as the unofficial theme song for Arizona politics and how our elected officials do the people’s business.
Last week ex-lobbyist and political inside man Gary Husk was indicted by the Arizona Attorney General’s Office on eight felony counts involving illegal campaign contributions. Husk’s lawyer said, “These trumped-up charges are 100 percent false. Gary has done absolutely nothing wrong.” Maybe (evtnow.com/5y0)?
Husk, a former deputy Pinal County attorney, assistant Arizona attorney general, assistant U. S. Attorney and director of the Arizona Department of Gaming, was alleged to be a principal player in the Fiesta Bowl scandal that focused attention on how state elected officials were catered to, pampered and wined and dined by the Fiesta Bowl to get what they wanted.
Husk’s former boss, ex-Fiesta Bowl Executive Director John Junker has pled guilty to felony charges relating to the scandal.
According to news reports relating to Husk’s indictment, he would allegedly have employees of his lobbying company make campaign contributions in city, county and state elections and then reimburse the employees donations.
Husk is the second big time politico and wheeler-dealer to see his name in lights courtesy of the criminal justice system. Last January ex-Tempe city councilman and state legislator Ben Arredondo pled guilty to taking bribes from undercover FBI agents posing as developers wanting preferential treatment from the Godfather of East Valley politics (evtnow.com/5y1). Husk and Arredondo were both involved with the Fiesta Bowl and were known as close associates.
The Arizona Republic’s Craig Harris exposed the Fiesta Bowl scandal (evtnow.com/5y2).
Harris’ reporting gave us 50-yard line seats to see how big money was buying the power of the people for their own special interests while we, you and me, were seeing the quality of life in Arizona slide into a deepening hole for everything from public education, to public safety to children’s services and the list goes on and on. The needs of the people took a backseat to the wants and desires of the rich, powerful and the elected officials who pandered to those who had the cash to buy favors.
Big money buys the power of the people for their own special interests while the people often go without. Money buys access to politicians and access buys power.
To get elected to office a wannabe elected official has to raise money to persuade voters they’re the person they want in office. Too often that money comes from lobbyists whose real agenda is access and power for their own use and wealth enhancement.
I don’t care if it’s the city council, county board of supervisors, state legislature or U. S. Congress, that’s how the game works. In the big scheme of things we’re only pawns in a game where millions of dollars in campaign contributions change hands every election cycle so the right people get the job.
Without money, and I mean big money, you’re not going to get elected to office. Once elected, getting reelected and staying in power becomes the primary job. Making deals with the money brokers who have special agendas will dictate whether an elected official gets to keep their plum government job and all the perks that go with being an elected official.
No wonder government is broken.
Husk, who’s said to have worked to curry favor with government officials at all levels, including law enforcement officers, will get his day in court. Maybe Husk is innocent as his mouthpiece proclaims, then again he could be guilty as sin and needs a couple of years in an Arizona prison to payback society?
Regardless of the outcome, Husk and his cronies have shown us how government in Arizona really works.
They showed us that if you’ve got the money, the government has the time.
Retired Mesa master police officer Bill Richardson lives in the East Valley and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.