Former Gov. Roger Wilson made a mistake and he admitted it. His problem was that his mistake also violated a law that he should have been aware of since he was a veteran of politics and understood the principles of ethics as to political donations.
Wilson entered a guilty plea to a charge of misusing money to make a political donation. He was given two years’ probation, must perform 100 hours of community service, pay a fine of $5,000, repay half of a $5,000 political contribution involved in the case, and pay a $2,000 fine to the Missouri Ethics Commission.
He was indicted by a federal grand jury. The charge was a misdemeanor. To some people it was a bit unusual for a grand jury to be given a misdemeanor case. But since this crime involved a former governor, the case was a bit unusual also, especially in Missouri. We won’t judge the prosecutors in this case because we aren’t privy to all the details in the case.
The judge’s sentence was fair. Wilson could have received up to six months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. Chief Magistrate Judge Mary Ann Medler pointed to Wilson’s past record in nearly a quarter-century of public service in opting not to require jail time. She cited the large number of letters of support for Wilson and said Wilson should be grateful for that. Wilson said he was, apologized for his mistake and said he “deeply regrets it.” Wilson also said there are “no excuses” for what he did.
Wilson, 64, Columbia, was a state senator for 14 years and served two terms as lieutenant governor and became governor for three months after Gov. Mel Carnahan was killed in a plane crash. He also held public office in Boone County. His record as a public official was, as the judge put it, exemplary.
We don’t know what the future holds for Wilson, but with his experience, he certainly has talent that could be put to good use in public service. Although his mistake was minor, a misdemeanor, it was wrong. His many friends still have trust in him and we, along with them, wish him well.