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Winners must seize their opportunities, not any false sense of entitlement

Advice for Tuesday’s winners: Don’t get puffed up with any false sense of entitlement. Just because voters elected you to office doesn’t mean they believe you deserve any special privileges. Winners need to realize that deep within the smelly swamp of entitlement awaits the potential of indictments.

Ask Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska.

Ask former Clark County Commissioners Dario Herrera, Erin Kenny, Mary Kincaid-Chauncey and Lance Malone — all now living in federal institutions that limit their freedom.

All five seemed to founder under the misapprehension that because voters elected them, they were entitled to special benefits.

Democrat Herrera must have assumed he was entitled to free lap dances and cold cash. Projected prison release date for the 35-year-old former political shooting star: Dec. 14, 2009.

Democrat Kenny apparently thought she was entitled to extra payments also known as bribes. Now 47, she’s expected to be released Dec. 18, 2009.

Democrat Kincaid-Chauncey seemed to think her title entitled her to let her adult children ask for bribes and favors, such as free lap dances and donations to send her grandson to ski school. Now 70, her projected release date is March 15.

Republican Malone, 46, who passed the bribes out to his former colleagues on the commission on behalf of a topless club owner, has an anticipated release date of July 28, 2012.

Michael Galardi, 46, the source of the bribes, should be out Jan. 5 — the first one who will taste freedom because, like Kenny, he became a government witness.

Except for Galardi, who probably expected his bribes entitled him to a consistently corrupt vote, they all seemed to think that bribes were a job benefit.

Winners, here’s an easy standard to use: If the offer wouldn’t be extended to your next-door neighbor, then it’s probably something you should view with suspicion.

Psst, wanna percentage of a land deal? Maybe a prison will be built there someday. Perhaps you can help make sure a prison will be built there? We’d love to make you our partner. Good guys walk away from those offers, while those who consider it a pleasant perk say thanks.

Winners find themselves moving with movers and shakers in the private sector who have lots of money. Not all candidates, but some, become deluded into thinking they too deserve the best of everything, no matter who is paying for it.

The conviction of Stevens is a perfect example. The Republican failed to report more than $250,000 in gifts from an oil contractor happy to throw home renovations in Stevens’ direction. After all, the contractor was getting plenty of federal contracts. Stevens tried to blame his wife, but the jury didn’t buy it. Now 84, he won’t be sentenced until next year. Meanwhile, he wants Alaskans to re-elect him on Tuesday.

Speaking of entitlement, two stories about Sarah Palin broke simultaneously: the one about the Republican National Committee spending more than $150,000 to clothe the GOP vice presidential candidate and the one where she asked Alaskans to pay for her to haul her kids around the state. The clothing story overwhelmed the travel reimbursement story, partly because the $21,000 in costs for travel was a smaller amount.

The travel story developed by The Associated Press smacked of a sense of entitlement and was more disturbing to me than the clothing story. If the GOP wants to dress and accessorize its candidate and her family for public consumption, have at it. Although I don’t agree, the Nevada Legislature lets legislative candidates use campaign donations to buy clothes.

But as governor of Alaska, Palin asked taxpayers to pay her children’s travel expense. After snagging the Republican VP spot, she amended the expense reports to indicate the kids were on official business, which made it legal under Alaska law. So watching Dad in a snowmobile race is “official business” for three Palin daughters? I don’t think so.

The Associated Press found some organizers who said the Palin kids were not invited; they just showed up.

While not comparing Palin’s actions to the criminal actions of Stevens or the Clark County commissioners, they still smack of entitlement.

Election winners, beware the snare. First comes entitlement, then arrogance, and corruption is not far behind.

Losers, you won’t have to combat that dangerous delusion of entitlement.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275.

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