Thursday, October 23, 2008

Here We Go Again!

Amy Daugherty seemed to have everything going her way.

I have never met Amy personally, but I certainly have heard of her. Her father, D.B. Daugherty was a well known former Circuit Judge in Cabell County, WV. The attractive young lady is a candidate for Magistrate in Cabell County in the upcoming November 4th general election. In fact, she was the leading vote getter for the open Magistrate's seat in the Democratic Primary in May. Her campaign yard signs are all over Huntington and Cabell County and her smiling face beams from big red billboards along the major thoroughfares of the city.

In the primary election campaign, records indicate that Amy's war chest included $17,465 in contributions and a personal loan of $18,700. Her campaign has spent $31,436.66 thus far. Her closest competitor in the 10 candidate field spent less than one third of Amy's totals. Furthermore, five of the candidates spent less than $3,000 in their campaigns. Financial records indicate that Amy's list of contributors include many Cabell County Attorneys, a local automobile dealership, and numerous local and state level politicians. She also had the coveted endorsement of the Huntington Fraternal Order of Police. Things looked pretty good for Amy as the election campaign came down the home stretch.

That all came crashing down on Tuesday evening, when the 41 year old candidate was arrested by West Virginia State Troopers and charged with purchasing crack cocaine with intent to deliver. Court documents indicate that Ms. Daugherty is charged with brokering the crack cocaine deal, admitting to five similar transactions in the past six months, and tried to bribe a Huntington police officer. After her arrest, the "Herald-Dispatch" ran criminal record checks on all the other candidates for the Magistrate's position, and found none listed. The check did, however, turn up a 2007 arrest and conviction of Amy Daugherty's campaign treasurer, Tresha Burns, on a misdemeanor drug possession charge.

Personal scandal and brushes with the law, are sadly commonplace in American politics today. We are all familiar with the likes of Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Florida Congressman Mark Foley, Massachusetts Representative Barney Frank, Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson, former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, former Louisiana Governor Edwin Edwards, Alaska Senator Ted Stephens, former presidential candidate John Edwards, and numerous former West Virginia Governors. The list is not exclusive to politicians either. Other well known celebrities, business tycoons, and yes, even pastors and evangelists are added to the scandal lists daily.

Each possession count against Amy Daugherty (if convicted) carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The bribery charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. If federal charges are added to the case, longer sentences are likely. With the election less than two weeks away, it is still entirely possible that Amy could be elected. If so, she would be barred from taking office until after the disposition of her case. Should she be convicted, she would be ineligible to serve, and, of course, would probably be headed for prison.

What can these high profile people possibly be thinking? Do they think they are immune from detection?

The truth of the matter is that we are ALL seriously flawed individuals. When one of these public figures "goes bad" it gets all the headlines, but the fact is that we all share the same penchant for getting in deep trouble. It is something that is inherent in everyone. Theologians call it the "Old Sin Nature". The ancient Hebrew Prophet, Isaiah put it this way, "But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away." (Isa. 64:6)

That sinful nature separates us from a desperately needed relationship with a Holy God.

Paul, the Apostle expressed his frustration with the battle that raged within his body in this way - "For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For the desire to do what is good is with me, but there is no ability to do it. For I do not do the good that I want to do, but I practice the evil that I do not want to do. Now if I do what I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but it is the sin that lives in me. So I discover this principle: Or law when I want to do good, evil is with me." (Romans 7: 18-21 HCSB) He cries out in verse 24 "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?"

The answer to that, of course, is Jesus. Sin always takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us more than we are able to pay. The only hope we have is forgiveness through God's Grace.

Amy Daugherty's political career has most likely come to a screeching halt. But more importantly, her life is in turmoil. Even though she is facing public humiliation and possible prison time, pray that she might find peace with God through Jesus Christ. Everyone needs that hope. We all live with the consequences of our sins, but forgiveness and peace is available to those who will come to Jesus. Those who are set free by Him are free indeed!

I hope you know Him.

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