Sure, local politicians are for sale, but how much exactly should a person expect to pay to own one? Is it the sort of purchase you can make outright, or will a loan be required? And will prices remain steady throughout the holiday gift-giving season or will costs soar in the wake of former county commissioner Bruce Thompson's indictment on charges of trading his influence for more than $250,000 in consulting fees.
Sting operations like Tennessee Waltz and Main Street Sweeper have shown Bluff City shoppers that, if you look hard enough, bargains abound. The services of various civic officials may be rented for only a few thousand dollars. Purchase prices, however, vary widely, and the serious shopper should be prepared to spend as much as they would for a new or gently used car.
Charged with taking less than $10,000 each, city councilman Edmund Ford and state senator Roscoe Dixon are clearly the 2001 Honda CRVs (with less than 200,000 miles) of local politics. Admitting that she shared $11,500 with an accomplice, Kathryn Bowers pled guilty to accepting slightly more than the price of a base model 2007 Kia Rio but slightly less than a Kia Rio LX. Rickey Peete, who once went to the hooscow for less than the cost of a rusty 1989 Malibu, recently upped his alleged value to $14,000, or the price of a new Chevy Malibu.
Considering the $24,000 given to Michael Hooks and the $55,000 given to former state senator John Ford, it's fair to say that, at present, Memphis' average corrupt politician may be purchased for about the same amount as a 2007 Chrysler Sebring (loaded) or a more basic version of the Chrysler's much nicer 2007 Town & Country.
If Thompson's charges stick, he'll send the average cost of corruption over the $50,000 mark and into Cadillac Escalade territory. But that's still chump change compared to John Ford. He could be convicted of accepting an additional $800,000, raising the average purchase price of a local politician to nearly $170,000, or the cost of a sweet 2007 Bentley Continental GT.