California Mills High School Recognizes Senator Larry Pressler As Example of Honesty In Government
Diogenes Lives! (320 B.C. Greek philosopher) spent his lifetime with a lantern looking for an honest man, but never found one.
(Millbrae, California - Friday, March 12, 1999) - Mills High government teacher Carol Ann Garrick introduced former Senator Larry Pressler to her students this day by stating "Diogenes lives."' Senator Pressler of ABSCAM fame finally made good on a 20-year promise to address her students in government. Pressler was thrust into the international limelight years ago because of his flat refusal to accept an illegal donation to his then presidential campaign.
(Nationally-syndicated cartoonist Jim Berry created this cartoon which ran in newspapers internationally in 1980.)
High school and college political science textbooks, particularly Magruder's American, frequently cite the infamous ABSCAM investigation of 1980. FBI agents posing as Arab businessmen, offered bribes to senators and congressmen to sponsor citizenship for wealthy foreigners. Posing as a legitimate PAC, they offered illegal contributions of $50,000 in cash for the illegal act.
Senator Pressler, (R-S.D.) was the only member of Congress to flatly refuse the illegal proposal. The Berry's World cartoon re-produced above ran in thousands of newspapers across the nation just days after the ABSCAM incident.
Ms. Garrick is a 38-year veteran of teaching government at Mills High in Millbrae, California, and one of the most senior and respected teachers in the California school system. She just happened to be in Washington, D.C. in 1980, when the so-called ABSCAM event occurred.
She was escorting a group of students, and, as she recalled, "We viewed Senator Pressler on every TV news report, as he flatly turned down a bribe on videotape." Ms. Garrick continued, "Pressler was on the front pages of every newspaper in the United States," and she noted his own modest reaction on the Walter Cronkite evening news when he (Pressler) was referred to as a "hero." Senator Pressler, at the time, stated, "I do not consider myself a hero ... what have we come to if turning down a bribe is 'heroic'?"
Pressler's behavior now is cited frequently in law schools throughout the United States as a standard of behavior for public officials ranging, from county commissioners to U.S. senators. Professor Alan Dershowitz of Harvard Law School frequently has cited Pressler as an example for his fellow Harvard Law graduates to follow.
"Some times the honest politicians do not get the proper recognition," said Ms. Garrick. However, she never fails to add, "Senator Pressler is a national hero in the sense that he exemplifies the best our country has to offer for public service." She tells her class, "Larry Pressler is a class act."
Former Senator Pressler went on to serve with honor for three terms in the U.S. Senate, and serves on the boards of several U.S. and Indian corporations from his law office in Washington, and regularly performs pro bono work in his home state of South Dakota.