Monday, December 21, 2009

Guilty, Guilty, Guilty, but Free as a Bird

Excerpted from: Dan Christensen’s

Executives talk, but PBS&J walks in campaign scheme

A Federal Election Commission report made public last week says one of Broward County's biggest government contractors regularly made illegal campaign contributions.

In the report written in September, FEC investigators concluded that "political contributions were part of PBS&J's business strategy," and that "the practice of making illegal campaign contributions involved officers at all levels of the company and was not limited to a few rogue employees."

But in a surprising Oct. 20 decision that was made public last week, the six commissioners failed to pass a motion to approve the staff recommendations. The 3-3 vote along party lines means the FEC will not enforce the law in the PBS&J case. The case will be closed.

Three Democrats voted to approve the recommendations; three Republicans voted to kill them – the latest in a string of partisan deadlocks that have raised doubts about agency’s ability to function.

This year, Broward County chose PBS&J to help lead the design engineering team for its $810 million airport runway expansion.

To read the entire post go to:

Yikes!!!! How can this be possible, PBS&J gets away without even a slap on the wrist, and then they get a county contract!!!! Who says crime doesn’t pay, in Broward County (and with the FEC) it certainly does!!!!!

What does this say about the caliber of people we have as Commissioners at the Federal Elections Commission. And, why did the federal prosecutors send the case to a civil board? Why not continue the criminal case and go after the other miscreants, after locking up the company’s chairman? What part of the word ILLEGAL do they have trouble with?

What is additionally disgusting is that partisanship trumps good judgment. In this circumstance, it is the Republicans voting not to do something about this behavior. But, both parties are equally guilty. Given slightly different circumstances, the positions would be flipped. Good and bad government crosses party lines. Both Republicans and Democrats are sleazy in going after campaign dollars and doing the bidding of developers. But the voters, of both parties, want good, ethical government, and are getting sick to death of hearing about the corruption.

Along with reading about the latest elected felon, we are reading about all the cities, counties and states jumping on the “lets toughen the ethics laws” bandwagon. Yes, we should have strong ethics codes with big nasty teeth, and yes the codes should be set up so it doesn’t take a citizen’s complaint to start an investigation, that will help. But, politicians have big egos.

Chris Megerian in writing for “Inside New Jersey” about New Jersey’s latest corruption sting said,

“The arrests also renewed the age-old question of why politicians continue to do dirty deeds when so many of them are caught and sent to jail.

“When opportunity presents itself, most people can’t turn down money,” says Louis B. Schlesinger, professor of forensic psychology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

Taking money from a crooked developer is no different than walking into a 7-Eleven with a pistol in your pocket, Schlesinger says. It’s just a matter of convincing yourself that you can get away with it.

“This has been going on and on and on, and nobody seems to learn,” he says. “They don’t think the law applies to them, because they don’t think they’re going to get caught.”

Rejection of all incumbents will be the reaction of voters; with the futile hope that change will bring honesty. There is some validity to this hope, most newly elected officials tend to take a while to become corrupt.

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