"I have been the Moses of my people and all I've ever asked for is to let justice be served." (Sen. Ernest Newton, 9/16/05)
Newton also placed blame on racists, the FBI and the media during his bizarre resignation speech, but apparently that was the last in a series of very public falsehoods (he pleaded guilty to bribery charges a few days later). New evidence released by federal prosecutors suggests that Newton, far from being a saint or even just a petty criminal, was deeply involved in bribery and theft, among other things.
Prosecutors, preparing for Newton's sentencing, condemned his "warped conception of his status as an elected official," which they said apparently moved Newton to collect bribes even from the operators of social service agencies providing training and housing for his poor constituents.
When Newton learned that the FBI was closing in, the memo says, he started scheming how to escape arrest. In one of numerous conversations secretly recorded by the FBI, Newton suggested to Warren Godbolt, the operator of a Bridgeport jobs training agency who had paid $5,000 in bribes, that Godbolt should lie if questioned by the FBI. Newton said he would claim Godbolt was paying him for consulting services. (Mahony)
Newton still defies easy description. He took bribes, stole from his own campaign, encouraged others to lie for him and, when caught, accused his accusers of racism. But he was also a tireless advocate for the people of Bridgeport, one of the poorest cities in the country, and before this bribery scandal broke was well-known for speaking for the disenfranchised. It's as if there were two Ernest Newtons: Newton the hustler and Newton the saint.
Perhaps that's why the bribes he took were so small: it was a sad sort of attempt to reconcile the two warring sides of himself. But who can say? Newton himself doesn't even seem to understand it:
"I did some stuff I wasn't supposed to do, so I gotta reimburse it and then get it back the right way," Newton said on a wiretap. "I just wasn't thinking." (Mahony)
No, I suppose not.
Mahony, Edmund and Christopher Keating. "Newton's Venality `Knew Few Bounds'." Hartford Courant 13 January, 2006.