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In a New York political season, it is not surprising to see Democrats or Republicans take a cheap shot at a powerful opponent. But we are stunned by the statements of Shams Tarek, a state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee spokesman, criticizing a letter written by state Sen. Frank Padavan on behalf of former colleague, Brian McLaughlin.
Padavan wrote to Judge Richard Sullivan, who sentenced the former politician last week in Manhattan federal court. At least 47 people sent letters to Sullivan on McLaughlin’s behalf, but Padavan was the only elected official. While most of the letters asked for leniency for the man who was once one of Queens’ most powerful political figures, Padavan’s did not.
“What [McLaughlin] did, he’ll have to pay for that. I did not ask for leniency. I did want to let the judge know that people saw him in this better light, however,” said the senator.
What is wrong with that? McLaughlin has admitted to committing serious crimes as a labor leader and an elected official. He betrayed the laborers he represented, his constituents, the Democratic Party and his family. For this, he has already lost his job, fortune and reputation. He will rightfully serve 10 years in federal prison.
But the mistakes he made are not the sum total of his existence. People like Padavan have seen the other side of this man. Padavan wrote he has known McLaughlin as “a dedicated community servant, an active member of his parish and a loving father.”
The importance of seeing both sides of McLaughlin is something Tarek cannot understand. “Not only does this bring disgrace to Sen. Padavan and his office,” said Tarek, “but it shows a gross lack of judgment and raises serious questions about what kind of relationship he had and continues to have with Brian McLaughlin.”
No, Tarek, your attack shows more about your judgment and the judgment of the people who hired you.
Padavan had nothing to gain by writing on McLaughlin’s behalf. We assume he did so because he believed it was the right thing to do. Maybe he did so because he is a man of character. Maybe that is why he keeps getting elected in a district where Democrats outnumber Republicans 3−1.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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