There is an old expression that “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Indeed, the case of Sam Riddle, a Detroit political consultant, proves that even a little power–real or perceived–can corrupt. For some, power is like a drug. It can create the illusion that you are above getting caught, that you are somehow above the law.
He worked for ill-fated City Councilwoman Monica Conyers, very recently sentenced on charges of her own. She sits in a prison cell tonight, in spite of the fact that she is the wife of Michigan Representative John Conyers.
Power, indeed, can make you very arrogant and flout the law. Somehow you think you can get away with things like bribery. At some point, Riddle was under the illusion that money would buy him power, or purchase him some degree of influence.
Riddle pled guilty to the charges, admitting guilt for bribing former Southfield City Councilman William Lattimore, according to Web reporter Allan Lengel. Moreover, he even appeared apologetic for his actions, according to an Mlive Detroit report dated October 6, 2010. He apologized for his unethical actions, and even expressed interest in a return to politics, using his sixty-plus years of life experience to teach the younger generation to avoid the temptations that come with an increased level of authority.
But how penitent are you really, Mr. Riddle? I really wish to believe that you are sorry for your actions, but I am put off by one thing you are quoted as saying. The statement, “You can shackle my arms, you can shackle my feet, but you can’t shackle my soul.”
Riddle chose to break the law. He sent himself up the river. On the one hand, he says he’s sorry for what he did. Statements like that from a person standing before a judge makes me wonder if he is really sorry for his offense, or is he merely sorry he got caught?
Now mind you, it is not really for me to judge. But part of me can’t help wondering that if the light had never been shone on his actions, would he still be trying to get by with wrongdoing as if nothing were ever wrong?
I am reminded of my own childhood friends who would try to get me to do stuff I knew was wrong. One such friend said, “Come and smoke with me. You ain’t cool if you smoke.” I answered, “But I’ll get in trouble if my mom finds out!” He replied, “What Mama don’t know won’t hurt her!”
He totally missed the point. The issue was that I would know. I would have to live with myself every day, knowing I did something to hurt my mom while her back was turned.
I wish Mr. Riddle well after he leaves prison. But I am uncertain about whether he deserves a second shot at politics. Ever again.
Associated Press. “Sam Riddle Gets 37 Years for Corruption. Mlive.com
Allan Lengel, “Detroit Political Consultant Sam Riddle Gets 37 Months. Tickle the Wire.com