August 23, 2005
Does Corruption Ripen in the Summer?
An AP story (here) talks about "A Summer of Scandal for U.S. Politicians," including the current cases involving Gov. Bob Taft's misdemeanor guilty plea, Rep. Tom DeLay's ethics problems in Congress, and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's questionable financial dealings. Throw in investigations of two Congressmen, William Jefferson of Louisiana and Randy "Duke" Cunningham of California, and it sure seems like the summer of corruption. But is it really different this time of year? Since this blog started last Nov. 1, Connecticut Governor John Rowland entered a guilty plea and began serving a one year federal prison term for accepting gifts in exchange for favors, former Phildelphia Treasurer Corey Kemp was convicted on conspiracy and mail fraud charges and sentenced to ten years, and two members of the San Diego City Council were convicted in the appropriately sleazy "Strippergate" prosecution. Upcoming corruption prosecutions involve the former Mayor of Atlanta and Governor of Illinois, both on RICO charges arising from their alleged misuse of office for personal gain. There are ongoing corruption investigations in Cleveland and Dallas, to name just two. The AP story asserts that there has been a "clear uptick" in the number of politicians under investigation, although I think that may be debatable. There is a cycle in corruption investigations, which can take months (or years) to develop, but we rarely see a year go by without at least a couple significant corruption cases being brought, mostly by federal prosecutors. Prosecutors certainly are more aggressive in targeting elected officials, particularly in the use of RICO charges, but then, isn't it good that being an elected representative is not a license to steal? (ph)
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