Bob Corbin still has Charlie Keating's $50,000 political donation tucked away in his desk drawer.
And like all greedy pols, Corbin doesn't show the slightest inclination to surrender one dollar of it.
A couple of years back, Keating passed the money to Corbin for a governor's campaign that never materialized.
Something about this $50,000 is very curious. The magnificent sum represents virtually all of the money Corbin raised for the aborted campaign.
The only other sizable donation came from an Illinois relative of former Representative George Weisz. Corbin subsequently hired Weisz to reinvestigate the Don Bolles murder. We understand how these things work.
Keating and Corbin have closer ties than anyone realizes. Not long ago, Corbin bounded from a public stage to embrace Keating at a banquet held in the Phoenician resort. It's no wonder his office managed to avoid noticing that Keating was raping the entire state.
The Corbin-Keating axis actually is pretty rank. This becomes even more blatant when you realize that Keating also took Corbin's daughter under his wing, hiring her to set up and run the elaborate physical-fitness center at his luxurious hotel.
Corbin always liked to talk about the appearance of impropriety. Surprising, isn't it, that he now looks like a man who has been stuffed into Keating's side pocket for a long time?
Under current law, Corbin can take the $50,000 with him when he leaves office at the end of his current term. Retirement from public life seems likely for a man who turned out to be a fairly contemptible and ethically questionable attorney general.
Despite poll figures released by his friends that show respectable ratings, Corbin clearly is no longer electable to any statewide office.
The denouement is that he hopes to take off with Keating's money tucked in his pocket.
"I can't give it back," Corbin says, "because that would make it look like I did something wrong when I took it." Senator John McCain can't get away with that excuse. Neither can Corbin.
There are two things about this that Corbin should realize we all understand. He did do something wrong when he took the money. And he most certainly should give it back.
There was a time when you couldn't find a mumbling word of criticism about Corbin in either the Arizona Republic or the Phoenix Gazette. Those times have passed. Last week, both Dennis Wagner in the Gazette and E.J. Montini in the Republic blasted Corbin.
Both papers have managing editors imported from out of town. They apparently don't understand how Corbin always was treated with kid gloves.
We shouldn't be surprised by Corbin's lame excuse. During the last decade, I've seen Corbin on his feet doing what he construes to be legal work. Skills like Corbin's couldn't possibly earn him more than minimum wage on the open market.
Corbin has told reporters repeatedly that his fondest wish is to retire and head for the Superstition Mountains to hunt for the Lost Dutchman mine.
This is the sheerest form of claptrap and dissimulation. Once more we have the face of evil obscured by the mask of public idiocy.
Corbin's record of nonperformance is far more questionable even than the events that propelled him to pursue the impeachment and ouster of Evan Mecham.
So Corbin's entire tenure as attorney general is Arizona's dirty little secret. It's the story of a sitting attorney general whose only legacy will be the disruption of government and avoidance of prosecuting the killers of Don Bolles, as well as letting Keating have free reign.
Corbin reminds me of that fabled malapropism uttered by Chicago's late mayor Richard Daley after his police bashed heads at the Democratic Convention in 1968:
"The police aren't here to create disorder," Daley said. "They're here to preserve disorder."
Corbin has glanced toward his beloved Superstition Mountains while the fast-talking Keating, whom he admits is still one of his great pals, has pillaged the entire state.
Corbin's legal hacks have flimflammed, postured and dragged their feet about the Bolles case for ten years while steadfastly refusing to pursue this banal crime to its logical conclusion.
Picture this. The high roller who removed a few thousand bucks from his billfold back in 1976 and pressed it into the hands of the stumblebums who murdered Bolles is still sitting comfortably in one of his big houses.
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More than likely, given what passes for polite society here, he's still a dues-paying member of either the Phoenix Country Club or the Paradise Valley Country Club.
Perhaps, dressed to the nines, his photo even appears with the other swells in those full-page spreads devoted to the idle rich that are occasionally provided to us by the Republic.
There's a line from Dalton Trumbo's script for the movie Spartacus that comes to mind.
"Now, don't be stiff-necked about it," Charles Laughton as Gracchus tells Julius Caesar. "Politics is a practical profession. If a criminal has what you want, you do business with him."