Michael Cohen Influence Peddling While White, No Crime There!

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Photo by Alex Radelich on Unsplash

I keep thinking, why is my next door neighbor sitting in a federal jail cell for ostensibly funneling millions of dollars to Atlanta City officials to gain access to city construction contracts.

The obvious answer is that when you pay to play, or pay to influence the outcome of governmental action, the law consider this as an act of bribery. We all know that bribery will land any Black businessman or Black public office holder in jail.

This has been true since the days of Reconstruction, when practically every Black public officer elected between 1868 and 1876 found themselves fighting back charges of graft and corruption. The best way to get rid of a Black elected official is to accuse him or her of taking money from the public or steering public money to vendors who did business with government.

Lately, I’ve spent the better part of a day trying to figure out why there is scant mention of criminality in the explosive news that AT&T, Novartis and several Russian Oligarchs paid Michael Cohen $4.4 million to influence public policy decisions coming out of the Trump presidency.

According to media sources, Cohen is not a registered lobbyist. It seems unlikely that Cohen or the corporations who paid him handsomely to influence Trump’s decision on their behalf, can hid behind the professional lobbyist label.

Meanwhile, my neighbor, a Black construction magnet, has spent one and a half years in the federal pen on a five year sentence. Also, the feds are hounding former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, perhaps for being influenced by people who were paying city officials for access to the mayor.

In light of the Cohen case, I guess we can add one more routine event to the lexicon whites can get away with that Blacks cannot: “Influencing while Black.”

Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine and Black College Nines. He can be contacted at hmharvey@haroldmichaelharvey.com

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