Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Politicians Claim They're Stupid

"If you're a have to be enjoying all the delicious ironies."
The story has already faded in Wisconsin, but here in Pensacola the Wisconsin illegal hunters' sting operation is still front-page stuff. The News Journal now has assigned two reporters to the case.

Today they filed three articles. Can we now honor the story with a "-gate" suffix? "Deergate," maybe, or "Badgergate"?

Kris Thoma and Brett Norman are reporting --
"Escambia County Sheriff Ron McNesby and County Commissioner Mike Whitehead, charged with violating Wisconsin hunting laws, are pleading ignorance of that state's regulations and accusing their hunting guide of deceiving them."
It's the 'I'm Really Just A Dumb Hick' defense combined with 'Blame the Guide.' Locals know that rank stupidity fits these politicians like a beanie fits a dunce. But Wisconsin law enforcement officers aren't buying it.
Chief Warden Randy Stark of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources said undercover state and federal agents posed as hunters during the two-year investigation of Blue River Outfitters. The probe was instigated by citizens' complaints.

Stark said Tuesday that ignorance of the law is no excuse for Lawinger's clients.

"The vast majority of law-abiding hunters would agree with this: It's ultimately the responsibility of the hunters to know and follow the law, wherever they hunt," Stark said.

"Many of these charges are very basic, regardless of what state you go to. I think there's evidence in this case that will demonstrate that there was knowledge or that there should have been."
No, no, says Escambia County Commissioner Mike Whitehead. "I'm a victim."
McNesby and Whitehead said Tuesday that Lawinger told them hunters on private property did not need licenses and were permitted in some counties to hunt during the off-season.

* * *
McNesby said Tuesday he has expensive hunting licenses from several states and would have gladly purchased one in Wisconsin if Lawinger had not told him it was unnecessary.
Would you believe it? Those pesky badgers in Wisconsin just don't believe our county politicians.
Wisconsin wildlife officials who came to Pensacola to interview McNesby in May offered a different account.

"McNesby apologized ... for not getting a license to hunt," according to an affidavit by conservation warden Michael Nice of the Department of Natural Resources. "He said he should have known better."
If you're a deer -- or if you know these guys, as a lot of people in Pensacola do all too well -- you have to be enjoying all the delicious ironies. As CNN commentator Paul Begala asked three years ago when four other Escambia county commissioners were convicted of violating laws they claimed they didn't understand, "Is there something in the water in Florida that leads Republicans to break the law?"

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