Wilkerson will continue campaign under corruption cloud

October 28, 2008
By

John Ruch

State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson is continuing her write-in election campaign despite facing federal corruption charges for alleged bribe-taking. She announced the continuation of her campaign in an Oct. 29 written statement that promised there is “more to the story,” but did not explicitly claim that she is innocent.

“Not only does this represent the biggest challenge in my personal and political life, but it will test to the limit the notion of innocent until proven guilty,” Wilkerson said in the statement.

Campaign spokesperson Boyce Slayman did not immediately return a Gazette phone call seeking clarification about whether Wilkerson is maintaining her innocence.

Wilkerson was arrested by the FBI on Oct. 28 after allegedly accepting $23,500 in cash bribes from undercover agents and a cooperating witness. That includes an alleged $10,000 bribe paid on Oct. 2 to fund Wilkerson’s campaign.

Already facing various legal problems before the arrest, Wilkerson lost the Sept. 16 Democratic primary election to Jamaica Plain resident Sonia Chang-Díaz. But Wilkerson has been running a write-in campaign for the Nov. 4 final election to stay in the 2nd Suffolk District state Senate seat.

Chang-Díaz will continue telling voters that they “don’t have to choose between good, progressive positions on the issues, and ethics and accountability,” said Deborah Shah, her campaign manager, in a Gazette interview. Shah said the Chang-Díaz campaign is focused on its own work and is not concerned about Wilkerson running under the cloud of federal corruption charges.

Wilkerson blamed US Attorney Michael Sullivan, a Republican, for “political calculus” in timing the corruption charges so that a trial cannot happen until after the election. Sullivan previously said at a press conference that politics were not involved in the timing. US Attorney Office spokesperson Christina DiIorio-Sterling declined to comment to the Gazette on Wilkerson’s complaint, citing the ongoing investigation.

Evidence photos released by the US Attorney’s Office include an image that allegedly shows Wilkerson stuffing a $1,000 cash bribe under her blouse and into her bra. Such stark claims have produced shock across the district among supporters and opponents alike.

“While there is great curiosity about the particulars of my case, I am not at liberty to discuss them for obvious reasons,” Wilkerson said in the statement. “For those of you who must be thinking ‘there has to be more to this story,’ of course there is. But it is not a story that I am able or willing to lay out in the press.”

Wilkerson’s Statement

I would like the voters of the 2nd Suffolk Senate District to know that I am staying the course of my campaign for re-election on November 4. Not only does this represent the biggest challenge in my personal and political life, but it will test to the limit the notion of innocent until proven guilty.

While there is great curiosity about the particulars of my case I am not at liberty to discuss them for obvious reasons. For those of you who must be thinking “there has to be more to this story,” of course there is. But it is not a story that I am able or willing to lay out in the press.

From a purely political perspective, it seems a lot of people- including myself- have seriously underestimated US Atty. Sullivan’s political calculus.

In one fell swoop, and even before an indictment has been returned, he’s sought to imperil my re-election campaign, and has set much of the state’s Democratic Leadership back on its heels. He brought this issue forward at this time knowing full well that I would never have an opportunity to have my day in court prior to November 4.

I am grateful for and humbled by the support I continue to receive, and ask that voters continue to stick by me on November 4.

To download full text of the FBI complaint against Wilkerson, click here

For more coverage of Wilkerson’s case and the Nov. 4 election, see the Nov. 7 Gazette.