Thursday, June 23, 2005

Things Are Hot in Dallas Right Now

The Dallas Morning News here reports on how an FBI investigation into possible corruption at city hall is affecting the city council.   This is understandable as investigations into city or state corruption can be very disruptive.  For one, investigations of this nature usually include search warrants and/or requests for documents.  Individual employees may need to refocus their everyday duties into securing material for the federal investigation.  It also brings into play certain fears when individuals are uncertain who may be talking with agents and who may be wearing a wire and taping a conversation. And perhaps the biggest concern among people who may have worked side-by-side for years is -- who will be indicted and who will go to jail.

"Business as usual" may come to a halt.  But of course a key question is - what was that "business as usual" and was it legal?

From a federal-state perspective, one always has to question whether there was a need for the federal government to intervene in state activity.  This often happens because the state is unable or unwilling to prosecute the local activity, sometimes for political reasons and sometimes because they do not have the expertise or funding to pursue the alleged criminality. But it is also necessary to examine if it is appropriate for a federal agency to monitor the particular conduct that might be in question, and whether a federal violation has in fact occurred in order that the appropriate balance between federal and state governments be maintained.  Courts can serve as a good check here.

But whether it is a corporation or a political body, it is certain that when the feds come in, it is disruptive to "business as usual."


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