McCloskey’s legacyWritten by Kevin Milliken | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Should we feel sorry for former Toledo City Councilman Bob McCloskey and offer him the slightest bit of sympathy for his actions, which are sending him to federal prison?
McCloskey’s lawyer told the court his client was concerned about how people may view him: as just another crooked politician whose good works over the years will simply fall by the wayside.
McCloskey sported a bushy white beard in two courtrooms July 21, while his attorney described a Santa Claus-like public official who helped community centers and constituents all over East Toledo.
Jay Feldstein, McCloskey’s lawyer, said his client “did a lot of good things for a lot of people over a long period of time.”
Feldstein even pointed to the 60-year-old former councilman as a devoted family man who’s been married 38 years. McCloskey himself said he’s only ever been away from his wife for 10 days. He also brought his kids and grandchildren to court so “they could learn from my mistakes.”
McCloskey apologized in open court to everyone he could think of, people wrote letters of support to the judges who decided his fate, and his attorney stated his client took responsibility for his actions and showed remorse.
Yet, a federal prosecutor painted a much different picture of McCloskey on July 21, pointing out that McCloskey accepted two bribes during an FBI sting last spring while under indictment for a third act of bribery.
The prosecutor called it “an unusually flagrant and blatant abuse of power and the public trust.”
A victim in the state’s case used words such as “extort” and “shakedown” and “influence peddling” to describe McCloskey’s actions. Those words make McCloskey sound more like Tony Soprano than Santa Claus.
So will Bulldog Bob be remembered as a good-guy-gone-wrong or just another crooked politician on the take?
McCloskey called his actions those of a desperate man who was under the pressure of a civil court case.
His lawyer was even poised to use the “Robin Hood defense.” In short, Feldstein would have said McCloskey wasn’t trying to shake down someone for six figures for his own gain, but to help his fellow Pilkington retirees so they could afford prescription drugs.
At that point, someone may be inclined to excuse the former councilman’s actions as simply trying to skirt the rules to help out some buddies in need.
But the bribery charge in state court states that a public official should not seek material gain other than their public salary for performing the normal course of their public duties. It doesn’t matter that the extortion was to benefit someone else. Right is right and wrong is wrong.
Then McCloskey pocketed $8,000 from a local businessman who was acting on behalf of the FBI. This time the councilman was lining his own pockets. Caught not once, but twice on tape.
So much for Robin Hood.
McCloskey’s own words in court sum it up well: “I’m certainly old enough and have the political experience to know better.”
Yes, Bob, you should have known better. Especially after seeing the Sandy Isenberg scandal and how voters reacted to a $10,000 roof.
As if you needed a reminder, you could end up with Tom Noe next to you at whichever federal prison complex you spend your sentence in Ashland, Ky.
Add to the whole mix stories of envelopes full of cash and the offer of “fund-raisers” for fellow council members past and present. Then there’s the allegations involving McCloskey’s unregistered East Side charity.
Judge James Bates called July 21 a sad day. But he also told McCloskey, “You let down every citizen who voted for you to represent them on city council.”
You sure did. It’s about personal responsibility and public accountability. There’s no sense of entitlement for elected officials. I think you get that now, but it’s a bit late.
What a fast and hard fall from political popularity. McCloskey led all vote-getters in last November’s city-wide council race. Six months later, McCloskey resigned in disgrace. A dozen years of good work followed by 27 months in the slammer.
However others remember Bulldog Bob, I won’t forget the image of McCloskey being led out of the courtroom, hands cuffed behind his back.
Kevin Milliken is the host of “Eye on Toledo” on WSPD 1370 AM. Contact him at email@example.com.