Wilkerson not stepping down immediately

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Nov. 12, 2008

State Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, who was photographed by the FBI allegedly stuffing bribe money under her sweater, says she's not resigning immediately because she wants an orderly transition. Wilkerson made the statement despite a vote by the Massachusetts Senate last week calling on her to give up her seat. Senators also sent the matter to the Senate Ethics Committee.

In a written statement, Wilkerson said she's still planning to resign, but couldn't set a date, noting that there are just "60 days remaining in this legislative session.''

"I am committed to resigning my office as soon as I can do so consistent with my need to effectuate an orderly transition, including closing out hundreds of active constituent matters,'' Wilkerson said in the statement.

Minutes after Wilkerson released the statement, Sen. President Therese Murray repeated the call by Wilkerson's colleagues for her to resign.

"The Senate has made its wishes very clear,'' Murray said in a statement released through a spokesman. "The Senate Ethics Committee is engrossed in its work and will report to the Senate as soon as possible.''

The committee could choose from a range of recommendations including expelling Wilkerson from the Senate. Any recommendation would have to be approved by senators.

Wilkerson argued it will take time to abandon the office.

She said she needs to sort through "16 years of files consisting of hundreds of boxes'' and help "my current staff in finding new employment and putting related affairs in order.''

"At this moment it is not possible to set the date on which this process will be complete, other than to say it will be as soon as humanly and responsibly possible,'' she added.

The decision followed Wilkerson's arrest by FBI agents last month on charges of attempted extortion as a public official and theft of honest services as a state senator. She is accused of accepting $23,500 in bribes from undercover agents she believed were businessmen. Wilkerson is free on $50,000 unsecured bond. (AP)