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Richardsons fall from power
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Forsyth County News
In the end, Glenn Richardson’s resignation as Speaker of House was a sad and sordid event in which even his most ardent critics likely could find little to cheer about.

That he had to leave his post was obvious. His ex-wife’s very public discussion of his affair with a former utility company lobbyist, coupled with Richardson’s attempted suicide just days earlier and admitted chronic problems with depression, made his departure from the top position in the state House a political inevitability.

Still, it’s a sad story, with a lot of heartbreak on both personal and professional levels.

Few who have paid any attention to state government in recent years can really be surprised that Richardson’s political career crashed and burned.

His tenure was marked by arrogance and bullying of the sort most likely to create determined political enemies rather than engender collegial support.

But it wasn’t his enemies that brought Richardson down in the end. For that he has no one to blame but himself.

Stories of the speaker’s affair with a utility company lobbyist at the same time he sponsored legislation favorable to her company long had circulated throughout government circles. The interview with Richardson’s ex-wife simply gave them more credence.

Richardson’s sordid story brings to light yet again the potential hazards of a political culture in which lawmakers frequently are wooed by lobbyist in a host of ways — from free tickets to expensive events to paid trips to various locales.

For some reason, those who rise to the top rungs of power in the world of politics fail to see the inherit conflicts that come about when they willingly allow themselves to become beholden to those most affected by legislation forged on the anvil of politics.

To them, there is always a mystical wall of separation between the largesse of lobbyists and the end result of lawmaking.  

Like the fairy tale emperor who paraded the streets in new clothes that never really existed at all, the image lawmakers hope to portray is very different from that seen by the public.

Those who rise to the top positions of power, and then abuse the public’s trust, cannot be allowed to look down condescendingly upon the little people. That was Richardson’s posture, and ultimately led to his downfall.

Hopefully some of those who remain in public service in the state’s Capitol will learn from the former speaker’s mistakes.