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Aron episode shows need for stanardized testing for politicians

June 16, 1997

Aron episode shows need for stanardized testing for politicians

Former Maryland U.S. Senatorial candidate Bill Brock must be breathing a sigh of relief. All Ruthann Aron did to him was take him to court.

If police allegations are correct, this was a mild way Aron had of treating men with whom she had become disgruntled.

Aron, who lost to Brock in the 1994 Republican primary, was arrested last week in Montgomery County and charged with attempting to hire a professional hit man to rub out her husband and an attorney who had brought suit against her over a soured real estate deal.

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OK, we'll all spot her the lawyer, but putting a contract on your husband is a serious offense.

This latest installment of Candidates Behaving Badly in Maryland seems too incredible to believe. We're all used to pretty heavy infringement of decency on the part of politicians, but I think the murder-for-hire scenario is one line that we all sort of assumed they'd never cross.

Aron is a wealthy developer and a member of the Montgomery County Planning Board. Certainly there was nothing to suggest during her Senate campaign that in three years she'd be quoted by police as saying that she "had an interest in having someone eliminated" and that she wanted the attorney's name "to appear in the obituary column of the newspaper."

According to police, an informant tipped off authorities that Aron was attempting to contract a murder. (And raise your hands if you were surprised that when she wanted a hit she went to the waste management industry). An undercover agent with the Montgomery County police then posed as a hit man and was contacted by Aron.

Police say she agreed to pay $20,000 for the two hits, and put down a $500 deposit.

Unreal. Although I do think $10,000 a person is a pretty good price; Wall Street will probably take it as a positive sign that inflation is still in check. If prices remain stagnant and wages continue to rise, pretty soon all of the middle class, and not just the wealthy, will be able to afford to knock off people with whom they take offense. It will be a status symbol, sort of like a car phone.

It can be the next of the great New Deal promises: "Two assassins in every garage."

This does, though, show the benefits of country living. A half dozen years ago a Martinsburg politician was accused (and later acquitted) of paying $2,000 to have his wife killed. Your murder-for-hire dollar goes so much farther out here than it does in the cities.

But suppose police are right, and suppose Aron had been successful - wouldn't this have been a little obvious? I'm no Columbo, but it seems to me if Aron's husband and her tormentor in court had both suddenly ended up sleeping with the fishes I would have instantly smelled what in the police business we call a prime suspect.

I realize that on a human level this is more sad than funny. But if true, what does it say about the type of people who are attracted into the political arena? It's tempting to invoke the "one bad apple" cliche; but would it be accurate?

There are a lot of fine people in politics. But increasingly they appear to care less and less about who they're sleeping with, where they get their money, which corporations they sell out to, whose reputations they impugn or who they plot to kill.

Decent people don't want to run for office anymore because they don't wish to associate with a bunch of goons.

I'm against standardized testing in the classrooms, but I'm starting to approve of it in the political arena.

We can start with the basics: "True or False - Having your spouse brutally slain is probably not a real good idea."

We'll leave the lawyer out of the equation for now; don't want to confuse them with a trick question.

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