At Friday's news conference regarding new corruption legislation, intrepid Pulp researcher Lyn Evans asked Broward State Attorney Michael Satz a pertinent and tough question.
To wit: "Can you explain why Broward County has become such a cesspool of corruption under your watch?"
To see Satz do a political two-step, watch the video below. There with him are State Sen. Dan Gelber, prosecutor and state Rep. Ari Porth (the little guy), and Palm Beach State Attorney Michael McAuliffe.
OK, so he didn't want to talk about his performance. But Satz did offer that he concurred with Evans' assessment of Broward as a cesspool of corruption. "I agree with you," he said. "People did things that are wrong, but there are no statutes that specifically deal with that activity."
The truth is that the existing laws -- like the unlawful compensation and official misconduct statutes -- cover a whole lot of misbehavin'. The problem during the past 30 years or so has been that Satz's office has repeatedly refused to prosecute good cases. Assistant state attorneys like John Countryman would routinely bemoan in their close-out memos that the officials' conduct looked bad but it couldn't go to trial because there was no proof of a quid pro quo. But guess what? The Florida Supreme Court had already decided there was no need for such proof because it was almost impossible to get. These things were done, quite literally, with a wink and a nod. So the high court, in its wisdom, deemed that circumstantial evidence -- i.e., a payoff in exchange for an apparent political favor -- was sufficient for prosecution. Satz effectively set an impossible standard, and the local pols slid along, emboldened, creating that cesspool we're all talking about.
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This isn't about beating up Satz, though. He's picking up the ball for the feds right now (or so it seems), and we should be rooting him on in his investigations involving Diana Wasserman-Rubin, the developers Chait, and of course the Al Capellini prosecution. He's showing some signs. And the bill Satz and friends touted Friday is certainly worth promoting -- and passing.
But don't expect Satz to talk about his track record. After the jump, you can watch how quick on his feet he can be when he doesn't want to answer a question.