Sadly, it appears to be the case in respect of Ken Livingstone's former chief race advisor - Lee Jasper. The litany of evidence building up about alleged conflicts of interest is serious damning, damning against him and Mayor Livingstone. While it is only one factor, it has certainly contributed to the narrowing of the London mayoralty race into what appears to be a dead heat between Livingstone and Conservative candidate Boris Johnson. The Financial Times now reports a recent poll showing a 5% lead by Johnson over Livingstone. So what has Jasper been up to?
Firstly, there have been allegations of Lee Jasper's improper involvement in approving funding for organisations that involve friends or associates of him, that include companies that are dormant or have gone out of business, or in one case funding a group that largely appears to put out press releases supporting Ken Livingstone.
Following that Ken Livingstone claimed the Evening Standard was embarking on a "campaign targeting black and ethnic minority organisations" - the race card to defend a scoundrel.
Now emails have emerged whereby Jasper (a married man) appears to be engaging in a very friendly relationship (sexually charged) with Karen Chouhan, a woman who runs community projects that Jasper has been responsible for approving Greater London Authority funding for. At the least this is failure to declare a profound conflict of interest. According to The Times the email informed Karen Chouhan "of his unbridled passion for her “feet, ankles, legs, thighs, bum and belly, arms, head and brain”. His feelings were particularly strong during “the first gentle dew on a golden summer morn”". He was involved in approving a £100,000 funding grant to the trust she is secretary for.
This is why he resigned, but he has also pleaded "it's a racist campaign". Apparently Lee Jasper thinks it is his race, not his behaviour that is at question - as if his race excuses what is an allegedly corrupt practice.
The Times also reported on how Lee Jasper, on £120,000 a year, lives in "state subsidised social housing at £90 a week for a four bedroom house in Clapham". This is utterly outrageous for a city and most importantly a Mayor that has spent so much attention and time on supposedly caring for the poor - when taxpayers are paying for highly paid officials to have bargain rentals. quick look at Find A Property shows weekly rents for a 4 bedroom house in Clapham start at £236.
Sorry Mr Jasper, taxpayers' money is not for you to dish out to your friends, associates or those who support Ken Livingstone. It is not racist to want transparency, no real or apparent conflicts of interest or accountability in how funds are spent. In fact, when you defend yourself by throwing such words at it, it is no defence at all. It's not YOUR money, it is Londoners money you got through force.
When Robert Mugabe is criticised for decimating Zimbabwe's economy, rigging elections, killing, destroying property, confiscating land and oppressing opponents, he calls it racism.
It's about time that such allegations were clearly seen for what they are - worthless cries in the dark by scoundrels.