November 14, 2007
Senate 14: Jerry Cooper's future
You no doubt know by now that the largest campaign finance penalty in Tennessee history was leveled at Senator Jerry Cooper of Morristown. Another corrupt politician has been caught (even though he escaped the federal charges against him in a land fraud case) and was punished.
The fine of $120,000 sounds very steep, but readers should bear in mind that Sen. Cooper took approximately $95,000 from his campaign account and transferred it to his personal account. So, for stealing from his donors, he really got fined a net amount of about $25,000.
Cooper still faces DUI charges stemming from a freeway accident in his SUV earlier this year. So, the question is: is he finished, politically? A.C. Kleinheider wonders the same thing. The 14th district in part borders the 10th, which undergoes a special election tomorrow to replace a different corrupt Senator. What will the citizens of Bledsoe, Coffee, Franklin, Grundy, Sequatchie, Van Buren, and Warren counties decide, since nothing so far has required Cooper's resignation?
Unlike Bill Hobbs, whose full-time job it now is to point out things like this from a partisan perspective, I don't care that the majority of dirty politicians in these most recent chapters in Tennessee history have been Democrats. Whether the offenders are named Ney or DeLay, Ward or Ford, Marti or Scoobie, I'm for ending the mockery that has plagued elected office at all levels for far too long. Of course, they've all gotten away with as much as they have because an apathetic public fails to even show up at the polls on election day, and some of those who do bother to vote don't take the relatively small step of educating themselves about just who it is on the ballot.
Will Jerry Cooper run for re-election? I hope not. I don't relish the risk that the incumbency charm will place his constituents under four more years of corruption. It's all fine and good to say "well, if they vote for 'im, they deserve 'im," but remember that his votes in the Legislature affect you, too, even if you don't live there.
A side note: I'll bet there's one politico who might not mind seeing this particular fellow Democrat disappear off the press radar: too-similarly named U.S. Representative Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) has endured several instances of mistaken identity due to state Senator Jerry Cooper's painfully public antics.
In closing, I must say that I do not mean to sound unsympathetic or unkind toward a human being who, like the rest of us, has problems. I simply think it is time for him to work on solving those problems without the burdens of public office. And I don't care if the next senator from District 14 is a Democrat, a Republican, or an Independent, as long as he or she possesses the integrity that the people demand and deserve.
State Senate Elections | By joe lance | 10:58 PM