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Keller @ Large: Why You Should Follow DiMasi Trial

BOSTON (CBS) - It hasn't been easy for many of us to follow the corruption trial of former House Speaker Sal DiMasi.

No cameras, still or video, are allowed in federal court, and the details of the alleged scheme to funnel kickbacks to the speaker in exchange for him greasing the awarding of millions in state contracts are complicated at times.

Listen to Jon's commentary:


But I hope you're making an effort to pay attention, because we are getting an alleged glimpse inside the Beacon Hill sausage factory that is very troubling but also crucial for us to know about.

Suffice to say that yesterday, a government witness alleged that during a discussion of their scheme, DiMasi told him: "I'm only going to be Speaker so long. so it's important that we make as much hay as possible."

If he truly said this, it speaks to a broader problem in our political culture that's been spreading for years.

It's one thing when the pursuit of personal profit consumes a private-sector businessman or woman. You would hope that they treat their employees well and look to give back to the community, and many do.

But the public sector is supposed to be a different cat altogether.

The deal is, we give you power over an expensive, powerful system, and expect you to operate it for the benefit of the people who most need it.

That means buying software that is the best deal for the Commonwealth, not because the manufacturer is lining your pockets.

It means adhering to a strict code of ethics because it isn't your money or, in the long run, your power to abuse.

And above all, it means devoting every possible ounce of your energy to putting government to work on behalf of the very needy and the broader needs of the public.

It's not about making hay for yourself, never, ever.

But even when they're not grabbing for kickbacks, how many pols do you see using their power for self-promotion and ego-gratification?

I hope DiMasi wasn't one of those.

But if he was, may God have mercy on him, because my guess is the court - and the court of public opinion - will not.

You can listen to Keller At Large on WBZ News Radio every weekday at 7:55 a.m. and 12:25 p.m. You can also watch Jon on WBZ-TV News.

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