Bribes and the Campaign

With Dianne Wilkerson’s guilty plea, it is now known that she was taking eight bribes from undercover FBI agents over 18 months in 2007-2008.

The FBI’s timeline of those bribes offers some stark contrasts to Wilkerson’s campaign activities.

On Aug. 14, 2008, Wilkerson visited the Gazette office for an extensive interview where she maintained that her legal troubles were behind her. According to the FBI, that same day Wilkerson had met with undercover FBI agents, explaining in detail how she would orchestrate a no-bid sale of state land to them in exchange for bribes that she described as “very, very, very much appreciated.”

A key moment in the race between now Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and Wilkerson came at a Sept. 4, 2008 forum at JP’s English High School. There, Wilkerson declined an opportunity to promise that she would not break campaign finance laws in the future, saying only that she would “try my best to follow them.” Less than a month later, she solicited a $10,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent as a secret campaign donation.

“I would say ten,” Wilkerson said on an FBI surveillance tape when the undercover agent asked how much that bribe should be. That was after she explained how she could not raise the money to defeat Chang-Díaz by collecting normal campaign contributions because of legal limits on their amounts.

During her 2006 campaign, Wilkerson issued a general public apology for her previous legal troubles and how they had made her supporters “wince.”

She added, “I cannot and will not promise that I will never make a mistake again.”

John Ruch

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