Saturday, 2:15 PM
Charges against Wilkerson elicit shock, calls for resignation
By Matt Viser, Globe Staff
Senate Republicans called for Senator Dianne Wilkerson's resignation today as the shocking word spread on Beacon Hill that she had been arrested on federal corruption charges.
"This has moved far beyond the sad transgressions of her past," Senate Minority Leader Richard R. Tisei said in a statement. "The latest charges brought against Senator Wilkerson rise to a whole new level, and significantly tarnish the reputation not only of the Massachusetts Senate, but government as a whole."
Saying the case showed "serious ethical and moral lapses" by Wilkerson, Tisei said she should "do the right thing -- for her constituents and for the Legislature -- and step down immediately."
The state Republican Party also issued a statement, lambasting the state Democratic Party as "a haven for criminals and corruption."
Senate President Therese Murray, a Plymouth Democrat, said this morning that she would immediately remove Senator Dianne Wilkerson, a Roxbury Democrat, as chairwoman of the committee on State Administration and Regulatory Oversight and ask the Senate Ethics Committee to look into the situation.
“We are just learning about this,” Murray told reporters as she went to a meeting. “I’m not going to say or do anything to interfere in this law enforcement investigation.”
“I am extremely disappointed,” she said.
Governor Deval Patrick, a Democrat who had supported Wilkerson in the September primary, said in a statement that the "initial reports are both troubling and sad. These are very serious charges and I will trust the judicial process to take them seriously."
“If these charges are proven to be true, Senator Wilkerson should resign," Patrick said.
Senator Michael Morrissey, a Quincy Democrat, said, "I'm surprised. You hate to see anybody in that position, but people in elected office are held to a higher standard."
“So much for her write-in campaign. That solved that problem," he said, referring to Wilkerson's campaign against Sonia Chang-Diaz, the challenger who beat Wilkerson in the September primary.
Chang-Diaz said her reaction was "simply one of sadness. Whenever the public's trust is violated, it's something that hurts the whole community and people's willingness to participate in politics."
"It's important to remember that the legal proceedings will continue, and like everyone else, Senator Wilkerson deserves a fair trial based on the facts, not a rush to judgment," Chang-Diaz said in a statement.