Powerful people get preferential treatment. This is the theme of the week, especially as it relates to Jeffrey Epstein, a Wall Street financier convicted of multiple sex crimes. Last week, the details of his 2008 court case unfolded, and the public learned that Epstein pled down from a large number of serious charges to a single state charge of soliciting prostitution from a minor. He was “sentenced” to 18 months in prison, during which time he was allowed his own security detail, as well as work release that allowed him to go to his office for up to 12 hours a day for six days a week! He was released on probation after “serving” 13 months. Even his probation was weak, as he was allowed to travel between his homes in New York, Miami, and the US Virgin Islands.
The insane outcome of this case drew much criticism at the time, and now that Epstein has been arrested again, the criticism is back. The new arrest was for another crime that had taken place at the same time as the original crimes, but was not known at the time of the original trial. Additionally, because the original case was held in Florida, and the new case is being held in New York, prosecutors are arguing that all victims, even the ones who were involved in the first case and never actually got their day in court, should be allowed to testify. Nobody familiar with this case thinks that Epstein shouldn’t be going away for a long time. Everyone is rooting against him, and is glad that new charges have been brought, and that this time, he won’t get off so easily.
So why is this controversial in any way? A scumbag, who previously used his money and power to get a slap on the wrist, is now going to have to face his accusers, and potentially go away for a very long time. Only this time, he won’t be able to use that money and influence, not with the eyes of the nation on the case, and the #MeToo movement in full swing. This seems like a case that should unite the whole nation. Except that there is a political motivation behind it, as well. You see, the prosecutor in the first trial was Alexander Acosta, who (of course) has been Donald Trump’s Labor secretary.
And this is the part of politics that drives those of us who don’t live in Washington politics insane. Because we live in a society where people have loyalty to a side, and not ideas, somehow it’s not easy for those who fall on the same political side as the offender to condemn bad behavior. At the time of writing this article, not a single Republican has called for the resignation of Acosta. In fact, none of the Democrats who voted to confirm Acosta have called for his resignation. The only responses have been the “wait for more facts to come out” approach, or the “no comment” approach. It’s almost as if it’s too difficult to say “someone who allows money, power, or fame to sway his or her decision should not be in public service.” President Trump called for the resignation of Ilhan Omar for just saying something, but he wants to reserve judgment on actual corruption?
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen this when it comes to high profile cases involving corrupt DAs this year. It was only this past January when another high-profile case caught the public eye. Jussie Smollett perpetuated a race hoax, but due to some unknown reasoning, Cook County DA Kim Foxx decided to release Smollett without charges, and the nation was up in arms, and rightly so. You know who wasn’t up in arms? Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL). This is only notable because a) Being from Illinois, Durbin endorsed Foxx in her candidacy for District Attorney, and b) Durbin has been extremely critical of the Republicans for not acting faster on the Acosta case, even going so far as to say, “This is an appalling example of what happens when powerful men protect one another.” It would appear that Senator Durbin only cares when powerful men protect each other, but if it’s powerful black women protecting powerful black gay men, that’s okay. Or more likely, Durbin lacks the backbone to stand up for what’s right if it means going against his own party, and even more so, his own endorsement.
Before you all jump down my throats about comparing a race hoax to child trafficking, let me make it clear that when it comes to the severity of the crime committed, there is no question which one is worse. That’s not the point. It was never the point. The issue is about the double standard Dick Durbin is professing here. Regarding the Acosta situation, he stated, “It reaches a point where they don’t want to put up with it anymore. And there’s a lot of publicity in this.” That exact sentiment could have been said about Durbin’s endorsement of Kim Foxx. It has now been three months since Foxx did a favor for a high-profile individual accused of a crime, and Durbin has been oddly silent about it. Of course, nobody in the media has dared to ask him about it yet.
It’s time to put political affiliation aside. If those in power choose to protect others with means and influence in lieu of upholding the law – the law, by the way that they were put in place specifically to uphold – we must call them out, regardless of party affiliation. Republicans and Democrats in Washington would do a lot to improve their believability as well as the almighty approval ratings with the American people if they just put what’s right – and legal – ahead of their party.
Izzo Zwiren works in healthcare administration, constantly concerning himself with the state of healthcare politics. The topic of healthcare has led Izzo to become passionate about a variety of political issues affecting our country today. Aside from politics, Izzo is a fan of trivia, stand-up comedy, and the New York Giants. Izzo lives on Long Island with his wife and two adorable, hilarious daughters.