Pardon Rod Wright Or Lock Up Tom McClintock

Joe Mathews
Connecting California Columnist and Editor, Zócalo Public Square, Fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010)

Who cares where politicians live? What matters if they are any good?

As I wrote here previously, the prosecution of former State Senator Rod Wright for lying about living outside his district was wrong. And now that wrong might be righted with a pardon. And future legislators would no longer have to abide strict limits on where they live as a result of legislation from Steven Bradford, a state senator from Gardena (as of this writing, it was unclear if the governor would sign the bill).

Instead there is outrage that the legislature is allowing lawmakers to live where they want. And there is outrage that a state legislator would be pardoned for, well, anything at all. Politicians exist so that we might express outrage towards them. 

I’d like to see a pardon of Wright—and the cleaning up of his criminal record—for another reason. So he could run for Congress.

Because while state legislators have to live in their districts – at least according to the L.A. County District Attorney, which prosecuted Wright—members of Congress don’t. So for years, Tom McClintock has been representing a Sacramento-area district in which he does not live.

And no one is prosecuting him.

Not living in the district is fine, as long as people know about it. Politicians are public servants. If your teacher or your trash man doesn’t live in a different, and they do a great job, who cares? The only real problem with living away from where you work is the toil all the transportation takes on you and the environment.

But if we’re going to continue the persecution of Wright, then we need to stop being so selective. Throw the book at McClintock too. Drive him from office. Make him ineligible to run again.

And if that seems extreme, which it is, well then –free Rod Wright!

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