David R. Henderson  

Cronyism in D.C.

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While in D.C. these last few days, I've been following more closely the David Gregory case. In case you haven't, here's a recap. David Gregory, the host of NBC's Meet the Press, displayed an illegal 30-bullet capacity gun magazine on Meet the Press a few weeks ago. In doing so, he broke the law. It turns out that he [or at least his staff, who, presumably, would have told him] knew he was breaking the law:

[D.C. Attorney General Irvin] Nathan wrote in the letter that while "some misinformation" was provided to NBC initially over the legality of displaying the high-capacity gun magazine, a Metropolitan Police Department employee advised the network showing it on the broadcast would violate D.C. law. "There was no contrary advice from any federal official," Nathan added.

Seems clear, doesn't it? Now I'm not an advocate of that law. And I agree that even if the law were a good law, Gregory and his staff didn't do anything wrong. His goal was to catch Wayne LaPierre off-guard with a sensational moment on the air.

But then shouldn't the same standard apply to all? A man named James Brinkley also broke the law but did nothing wrong. Yet, that same D.C. Attorney General's office went after him as if he was a hardened criminal.

There are two, or maybe three, differences between the two cases. Here's the first:

Just like Mr. Gregory, Mr. Brinkley called MPD [Metropolitan Police Department] in advance to ask for guidance on legally transporting his gun during the drop off. The police told that the gun had to be unloaded and locked in the trunk, and he couldn't park the car and walk around. (The District's transport law mirrors federal law in this respect.) Unlike Mr. Gregory, who apparently disregarded the response provided by the police, Mr. Brinkley followed the police orders exactly.

The second is that Gregory is well-known and Brinkley is not.

The third is that Gregory's wife, Beth Wilkinson, and D.C. Attorney General are friendly acquaintances.


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COMMENTS (12 to date)
WRD writes:

Cronyism? The DC Attorney General doesn't prosecute criminal violations. The US Attorney's Office in DC does, for both federal and local crimes.

The DC Attorney General only does civil stuff.

Ken B writes:

I don't think it's cronyism. I think it's ideological. Gregory was pushing for gun control, and amongst those who matter in these decisions that is the approved position. Reading a few blog reactions, I get the distinct feeling that gun control advocates consider it patently absurd that the law should be applied here, precisely because Gregory was pushing gun control.

Of course you could write the law to allow educational use, demonstrations, or disabling the thing, but that was not done.

F. Lynx Pardinus writes:

There's a school of thought (echoed by gun advocates toward Gregory) that if you oppose a law, you should agitate for the law to be enforced as rigorously as possible, in order to ensnare the general public and/or power brokers and force a change. It sounds plausible, but I'm wondering about the technique's efficacy in practice. Are there any historical examples I can use of it working?

Ben Bursae writes:

WRD, that distinction in responsibilities is what it looks like on paper, but it's clear from all news accounts of Mr. Brink key's story that he was being prosecuted by the DC Attorney General's office. Rachel Bohlen (the prosecutor) shows up as an employee on the DC Attorney General's website (which is linked to by the site you posted). Just FYI, it is pretty clear that cronyism is at play here.

patrick writes:

of COURSE croynism is happening here. how can anyone doubt that?

Doug writes:

Well isn't it obvious different rules apply to Inner Party members, i.e. forward-thinking, forward acting stalwarts with the political connections to prove it. Outer Party members, i.e. conservatives and Republicans, who are still politically connected, members are shown an intermediate degree of tolerance.

Kulaks with no connection to the Party on the other hand, particularly counter-revolutionary kulaks who are backwards thinking members of prole-ish organizations like the NRA must be shown no tolerance.

This isn't so much a top-down directive from the Politburo. But everyone who values their career in the Party knows that it can only be good for them to turn a blind-eye to a Party member. And that it can only be bad for them to show any leniency to a Kulak.

Luckily at this point the sheer number of laws and regulations on the books are so massive and vast that everyone is a de facto criminal in some way or another. This allows proper class conscious discipline to be meted out without such trifling Bourgeoisie notions like due process or the rule of law.

Harold Cockerill writes:

Break it up. Nothing to see here, just move along.

Ken B writes:

@Patrick: by seeing another plausible explanation. In this case special treatment because of ideology and fame rather than personal acquaintance.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Ken B,
I was traveling home all day yesterday and so only now am getting to respond. I think you make a good point. I think they blend, though. Part of cronyism, and it's an unappreciated part, is that the cronies have in common their ideology.

Joe Cushing writes:

What would be awesome irony is if he had to defend himself in court and through the process he ended up at the supreme court and got the law overturned. The last mag limit was never challenged in court. The gun industry and NRA all rolled over and took it. Any law that prohibits the kind of arms that a militia would keep and bear is clearly unconstitutional. A militias purpose is to appose armies. What size magazine do armies carry? Wouldn't a militia carry the same size?

Ken B writes:

@DRH: Thanks. Yes, you are right about that. I was focused more on cronyism as a motive. The prosecutor's wife's friend sort of thing. It certainy has all the hallmarks of special treatment for one inside the circle, which is a bit too broad for 'cronyism' proper (which implies a personal relationship) but it clearly lives in the same street.

Gregory is part of the nomenklatura, the other poor schmuck is not.

Arthur_500 writes:

Joe Cushing, you are absolutely correct,the second ammendment was about defending against a government that no longer respected the individual rights of its citizens. The US government is to be for the people.

Gregory and his staff didn't do anything wrong. His goal was to catch Wayne LaPierre off-guard with a sensational moment on the air.

The only sensational moment would be to lie to the American public and claim that the second ammendment is about hunting or self defense in one's home.

While the cronies will support those with the same political agenda, what good is a law, or a constitution if it is so readily usurped?

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