Wilkerson resigns office after official indictment

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By Michael P. Norton and Jim O'Sullivan, State House News Service
Nov. 20, 2008

Sen. Dianne Wilkerson resigned Wednesday, after her indictment Tuesday on federal charges that she took $23,500 in bribes to take legislative action.

Wilkerson had come under heavy pressure from colleagues, who voted to ask for her resignation within days of her arrest last month.

Her resignation marks the end of a Senate career that saw her come to prominence as one of the state's few prominent African American politicians in the early 1990s, champion a string of progressive causes, and run into a long list of ethical violations and legal problems, including tax evasion.

She is charged with accepting bribes to help developers and businessmen secure liquor licenses and state land within her district.

The Senate scheduled an unusual Wednesday session this week, amid rumors that Wilkerson would submit the resignation in light of Tuesday's federal indictment. Senators held the session open, with presiding officer Senate President Pro Tempore Stanley Rosenberg announcing they were waiting for "a certain document."

Wilkerson is the second member of the 40-seat Senate to resign within a week, after Sen. James Marzilli stepped down last Friday.

Marzilli is facing sexual assault charges, and faced increased pressure from colleagues to resign after traveling to Germany to speak at a policy conference while many in the Senate believed he was still hospitalized with mental illness.