Kudos to Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who is giving charity more than $40,000 in past political contributions linked to Chicago real estate developer and fast food magnate Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Rezko is facing federal corruption charges.
Obama spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement, "It is the policy and practice of the campaign to review all such new information and dispose of questionable funds that campaigns must address as new facts emerge".
We must extend the same kudos to Hillary Clinton and John Edwards, who have also encountered fundraisers who have been charged of making illegal contributions. Clinton returned more than $800,000 in contributions linked to Norman Hsu, who is facing federal fraud charges in New York.
One-time Edwards fundraiser Geoffrey Fieger was indicted last year on charges of conspiring to make more than $125,000 in illegal contributions. The Edwards campaign has said it is waiting for the outcome of the case before deciding how to proceed.
None of these candidates did anything wrong, that much is clear. To their credit, they have each taken the appropriate steps to cleanse themselves of these donations. So what about our local delegation? Do the same standards not apply locally?
In case you missed it, a North Tonawanda couple accused of operating a prostitution ring out of four massage parlors in Niagara and Erie counties received help from politically connected people. Che Ngan Tsui, his wife, Len Wah Chong, and two relatives were arrested on allegations of importing Asian women to work as prostitutes in massage parlors in Niagara Falls, Lockport, Wheatfield and the Town of Tonawanda.
The assistance included:
* Tsui, his wife and his brother-in-law purchased three properties through auction from the City of Niagara Falls after meeting Mayor Vince Anello while approaching city leaders with plans to develop the city's struggling entertainment district.
* Tsui and one of the massage parlors, Golden Accupressure in Wheatfield, made political donations to Niagara County Democrats totaling $1,000.
* Other elected officals, including Anello and Town of Niagara Councilman Bob Clark also took political contributions.
So why the double standard? Why, after learning what we now know, would these elected officials and political organizations not try to right this wrong?
These crimes are an affront to women. The victims were brought to this country and forced into sexual slavery. Those who offered political assistance or took money should be begging for a way to make it right. Make a donation to the YWCA of Niagara Domestic Violence Program or whatever organization you wish. If it's good enough for Obama, Clinton and Edwards, it's good enough for you.