A little over a year ago, federal investigators found that Smithsonian Institution Secretary Lawrence Small‘s private collection of Amazonian artifacts contained several hundred items (mostly feathers) that violated, among other laws, the Endangered Species Act. He was convicted in Jan. 2004 and sentenced to 100 hours of community service.

He is now arguing that he should be allowed to use those 100 hours to read books on, chat with politicians about, and lobby to change what he calls an "outmoded" law.

U.S. Attorney Frank Whitney told U.S. District Court Judge Terrence Boyle, who is handling the case, that Small shouldn’t be allowed “to satisfy his obligations to the community for his criminal conduct by reading and chatting with prominent political figures. To do so would minimize his criminal activities and remove any deterrent value of his sentence.”

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Allowing Small “to spend time learning about the Endangered Species Act so that he may change the law he violated fails to promote respect for the Endangered Species Act.”

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(Via Kevin Drum via Sam Heldman)