Thursday, October 15, 2009

Morrison's defiance more than guilt or innocence?

TODAY BROUGHT another dismal chapter in the tale of Jack Morrison's continued defiance of all moving parts since he was convicted of two ethics charges as a member of the University of Akron Board of Trustees. On Page One of the Beacon Journal he's reported to be glued to his seat on the Summit County Board of Elections despite Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner's initiative to remove him. He continues to defend his innocence, which is usually the refrain of prisoners heading to the gallows. He has used the same excuse to remain on the UA's Board of Trustees.

What gall! Morrison, an influential operative who knows his way around the inner-sanctum of Republican politics as the party's lawyer, obviously has elevated politics to a disgracefully high level. Folks, this is less about guilt or innocence and more about retaining a Republican seat on the Board of Trustees until the day that a Republican might get elected governor.(Governors appoint trustees on the recommendations of local pols.) That is at least GOP County Chairman Alex Arshinkoff's rationale in defending Morrison's continued presence at the university. A former board member himself, Arshinkoff has long been involved in the university's and party's interests in tandem. I wouldn't be surprised if other higher-ups in the party have worked back channels to get Morrison off the hook. A man of his wealth and power always has friends.

Now the chairman must choose: Is a single seat on the Board of Trustees (the election board is another matter since it has always been a political instrument for both parties) more important than the recurring negative stories that will accompany the Morrison saga and further dent the university's image, partricularly those enrolled in ethics classes? .

It shouldn't be that hard to answer the question. But unfortunately, it apparently is.


Anonymous said...

Jack Morrison's repeated claim/defense that he was "confused" doesn't hold up. Why didn't he simply call the Ethics Commission and the department specifically responsible for handling questions on disclosures (the phone number for disclosure questions is posted directly on the Ethics Commission website) to clarify the issue when he first encountered his acknowledged "confusion"?" It would seem he is admitting awareness of the issue several years prior to his indictments and taking no action to clarify it until it became a legal issue. Indictments aside, it is reasonable to claim that he never intended to call the Ethics Commission to clarify the issue despite his and his attorney's admitted awareness to the issue by "confusion" and his statutory duty to file ethics disclosure forms.

Tying this all together,the underlying issue with his convictions(no matter how petty his attorney claims) is that his ethics in a public capacity are inpugned. Morrison's duties at the board of elections call for him to participate in investigating/referring issues- including "falsification" and disclosure violations-to the proper authorities. Now anybody who comes in to the board of elections can claim ignorance of the law or "confusion" and rightfully so. Why not? The board of elections chairman can get away with the defense, "why can't I be confused about the law?"

A higher standard of ethics is expected and needed for public officials and the Republican Party (locally and state) is aiming to lower the bar of conduct to protect their "territory". This goes beyond partisanship and into redefining concepts of law and order that guide individuals who serve in the public sphere. It sends a poor message out to everyone.

Anonymous said...

Even when Brunner removes him he and Alex will attempt to tie this up in court and demand immediate action. I remember one of the justices who was here locally at one time saying "I owe my political career to Alex Arshinkoff".
Abe would you care to take a stab at who that was? She continually refuses to recuse herself in any matter with Alex and the party. I think she thumbs her nose at judicial conduct.