Thursday, August 16, 2007
With the recent spate of bribery cases involving military officials accepting money for steering Iraqi contracts to corporations, the Grits For Breakfast blog took a poll (here) of readers asking, among other things, who is more culpable: the corporation paying a bribe to obtain business, or a government official accepting one. The results:
Slightly more people (17%) considered the company more culpable than the soldier (14%). One reader offered the canny insight, Remember Eve in the garden? She sinned, but the guy offering the bribe was really, really evil." The vast majority of Grits readers (67%) thought both the briber and the bribee were equally culpable.
The poll also asked whether the corporation paying the bribe should be identified in the government's charging documents when only the recipient is charged (or pleads guilty). The usual practice is to identify the company as "Corporation A," in much the same way that recipients of lobbyist Jack Abramoff's largess were called "Representative A" and "Representative B." According to Grits: "92% of those responding to Grits' survey agree that federal prosecutors should NOT conceal names of companies alleged to have bribed soldiers or US officials." Unfortunately, the Department of Justice policy is not to name unindicted parties, regardless of their perceived culpability. While it is certainly problematic to charge only one side of a corrupt transaction, it is not necessarily good to allege crimes in a public document when the person (or organization) has no means to fight the allegation. A conviction in the court of public opinion is tough to overcome. (ph)