By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Give it up, Chuck

Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker unleashes a high, hard one today destroying any pretense that Boston city councilor Chuck Turner and former state senator Dianne Wilkerson were set up by racists at the FBI.

Walker has a page-one interview with Ron Wilburn, better known as “Cooperating Witness,” the guy who lured Wilkerson and Turner into posing for those can’t-get-enough photos of them taking cash, allegedly in return for their help in getting Wilburn a liquor license for a bar he was trying to open.

Wilburn is not a racist FBI agent. Nor is he in trouble himself. Rather, he is a well-known, 69-year-old African-American businessman and longtime Wilkerson supporter who tells Walker that he’d had enough, and that he expects more city officials will be arrested before this is over.

I’d say he’d be in a position to know, wouldn’t you? After all, he knows who smiled for the camera. This excerpt from Walker’s piece is priceless:

“People do things,” Wilburn said. “There are decisions, there are choices, and there are consequences.” Asked if he was surprised that public officials would allegedly take money to help push a liquor license, he responded quickly. “Hell, no,” and let out a hearty laugh….

“You’re dealing with favoritism, cronyism, classism, and if you don’t have the right connections it’s very difficult to make things happen,” Wilburn said. “The average person that works hard and has a plan to get a license, it’s very hard for them to move through that system. And you find out if you have the right people pushing the buttons, things can happen fast.”

So much for Turner’s media-bashing performance yesterday outside City Hall.

Wilburn does say that the FBI remains its usual bumbling self. For one thing, he says he never told the FBI that he was tired of being shaken down by Wilkerson, as the FBI claims in its affidavit (PDF). For another, he’s upset that the FBI gave him so little cover that his identity quickly became known.

But, he adds, “I was not forced or coerced.”

And now Wilburn finds himself at the center of the biggest corruption scandal Massachusetts has seen in several decades.

File photo of Turner (cc) by stand4security and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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  1. Ani

    The feds approached Wilburn? Not the other way around? For me, that’s a difference that makes a difference in how the whole thing looks. I wonder whether Wilburn, and his concerns, got co-opted into something else. And I worry when we start seeing life as imitating movies (apropos of Wilburn’s comment to Walker about the affidavit reading like Spike Lee script).

  2. O-FISH-L

    While I applaud Ron Wilburn for his role in this case and for dispelling race as a factor, I’m still left confused by the Walker interview.We’re led to believe that Wilburn had enough, but it wasn’t Dianne Wilkerson who he had enough of, and he had few dealings with Chuck Turner, so who was it? Or are we to believe he only had enough of “the process” and the investigation into that process led first to Wilkerson and Turner?Also, if the feds approached Wilburn about campaign donations, was Wilburn initially a target who flipped, or were they already onto Wilkerson and Turner? Did Wilburn say, “Hey guys, while you’re here about my donations, let me tell you about liquor licenses?” It would seem both odd and lucky that the feds would approach Wilburn on another matter and strike paydirt on this one, unless they knew Wilburn had the goods. Maybe he wrote “for liquor license” in the memo section of his checks. BTW, if Wilburn’s political donations caught the FBI’s eye, may we read about them in the Globe? I believe OCPF is well automated, so let’s see who he was donating to, at least the ones that are on the record.

  3. Marc Larocque

    So much for Turner’s media-bashing performance? What.Does that even make sense.The media is putting Chuck on trial before he has his day in court.What has Chuck done wrong in the past besides confuse a couple of porno pics for clips of American soldiers raping Iraqi women? He was too trusting then.And why so much trust in Wilburn? Just because Wilburn was posed as a stool pidgeon doesn’t mean that he didn’t have an alterior motive besides the typical I’ve-had-enough-of-this-money-politics mess.Why trust the FBI?

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