Honest Man: The Life of R. Budd Dwyer
Budd Dwyer was a very public man. He lived that way, and he died that way. It’s what he wanted. He was a very popular and likeable man. He went to his grave and nobody really knew whether he was innocent or guilty of the charges that were brought against him. Budd Dwyer shot and killed himself during a news conference after being convicted of bribery. He denied the allegations and made sure television cameras covered his suicide.
As a young man, Budd’s original plan was to become an accountant. But after majoring in Political Science, he changed his mind. He loved politics and was convinced that he could contribute to the government. He was determined to serve his district. He didn’t care who called him, as long as the person lived in his district he would listen and help. No matter was too insignificant for him. He listened to complaints about potholes and then got them fixed. If somebody called because a license plate was taking too long to arrive, he would look into it. He even called banks to help people find out what was happening with their mortgages.
Those closest to him describe him as ‘Mr. Clean’. He was the perfect example of all that was good about politics. After being in politics for a few years, he decided to run for State treasurer and won. Whenever he was congratulated for his win, his response was ‘Only in America’. What he meant was that he was in awe that a kid from a small town without affluence, without a political base or legacy would be elected to a State office in the fourth largest state in the United States. He was filled with gratitude for the opportunity to serve his country.
A few months into his first term, apparently Budd Dwyer and the governor had a number of disagreements regarding the use of State funds for personal errands and trips. Dwyer was adamant about not paying any of the vouchers and the governor, Dick Thornburgh, was not happy about that. Allegedly he said publicly that he was going to get Dwyer for that.
By the time Dwyer decided to run for a second term, already a scandal was brewing. He was being accused of accepting a $300,000 bribe from a contract with a company called Computer Technology Associates Incorporated (CTA). Dwyer denied the charges categorically and won the elections for a second time. But that did not put an end to the scandal.
To many, his suicide was not an attempt to cover his guilt at all. There had to be more than that to lead a man to kill himself in such a violent and public way. Had he been hiding depression? Or was it his ultimate act of revenge? Watch this film now.