MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Let me start with the obvious statement that a person charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. And that certainly applies to State Senator Katrina Robinson of Memphis. But the federal charges lodged against her are as serious as they come. And at some point, she or her attorney owes a better explanation to taxpayers and her constituents.
The criminal complaint announced Wednesday accuses Robinson of embezzling more than $600,000 from a $2.2 million federal grant she received to operate her for-profit business, The Healthcare Institute.
U.S. attorney Mike Dunavant included salacious allegations in the complaint. For example, Robinson is accused of using grant money to pay herself exorbitant bonuses, to purchase a vehicle, clothes, and beauty products. Even to pay for her wedding – and later her divorce.
When the first-term Democrat addressed the charges Wednesday, instead of professing innocence, she implied that the case was politically motivated, while her lawyer suggested the charges were excessive.
Frankly, that’s not good enough. This is a matter of public trust. And a state ethics inquiry is certainly warranted. Robinson easily won the District 33 seat in 2018 by knocking off 12-year incumbent Reginald Tate. She was hailed as a fresh face in Democratic politics. But now a huge cloud hangs over not just her political future – but her freedom. We’ll see how it all plays out. And that’s my point of view.