CEPI Newsletter February 2017

This monthly compendium of news reports about corruption and ethics issues is brought to you by the Center for Ethics and Public Integrity (CEPI). Neither the National Association of Attorneys General nor the National Attorneys General Training & Research Institute express a view as to the accuracy of news accounts or affirm any position taken by the authors of the hyperlinked articles.

Cases: Investigations, Prosecutions, and Appeals

AG Kilmartin: 'Raymond Gallison was Greedy. Pure and Simple.': Former Rhode Island state representative Raymond Gallison, Jr., has been charged with federal corruption charges in a case jointly announced by Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha. These charges follow the indictments of former State Representatives John Carnevale and Peter Palumbo, who were both charged in state court with filing false documents. Palumbo was also charged with embezzlement.

AG Files 11 Lawsuits Against Conspirators in Prison Bribery Scandal: Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has filed eleven civil RICO lawsuits against individuals and corporations involved in a prison bribery scandal. Among those charged are the former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps and The GEO Group, Inc., a for-profit prison company that has previously housed both federal and state prisoners. The complaints allege that companies paid millions of dollars in “consulting fees” to individuals who then used the money to bribe and pay kickbacks to Epps.

John Wiley Price Finally Gets His Day in Court: The federal corruption trial of Dallas County (TX) County Commissioner John Wiley Price began February 21. Price is accused of taking nearly a million dollars in cash, cars, and land as bribes in exchange for helping technology companies land contracts with the county he represented. A co-defendant, Kathy Nealy, will face a separate trial in which her cooperation with authorities and the government’s 2009 agreement not to prosecute her is expected to feature prominently.

US Seeks Arrest of Former UN Chief Ban's Brother in Bribery Plot: Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have asked South Korea to arrest the brother of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on charges related to a bribery scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars of real estate.

McDonnell and Its Potential Progeny

A Case Famous for ‘Cold Money’ Back Before Court: Former U.S. Congressman William Jefferson is asking a federal court to reverse his corruption conviction on McDonnell grounds. Jefferson memorably stashed $90,000 cash in his freezer, which he intended to use to bribe the vice president of Nigeria.

Ethics

Josh Shapiro Releases New Code of Conduct for AG's Office Employees: Newly-elected Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro has released a new code of conduct (available through the link above) as part of his promised commitment to ethics in his office. The entire staff of that office has signed a pledge to abide by the code of conduct. AG Shapiro also created a chief integrity officer position, which has been filled by Eric Fillman.

A Court is Blocking L.A. County Sheriff from Handing Over a List of 300 Problem Deputies: The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has a list of 300 deputies with past misconduct—ranging from domestic violence to bribery—that the sheriff has requested to send to prosecutors, who would then assess whether to turn the information over to defense counsel in cases in which those deputies are witnesses. A union representing the deputies has filed suit against the department to prevent this disclosure, and an appeals court has temporarily sided with the union.

Alabama AG Marshall Recuses Himself in Bentley Investigation: Alabama’s newly-appointed Attorney General Steven T. Marshall has recused himself from the investigation of Governor Robert Bentley. Former Montgomery County District Attorney Ellen Brooks has been appointed in his stead.

Legislation

South Dakota GOP Uses 'Emergency' Rules to Repeal Anti-Corruption Law: CNN reports that an anticorruption referendum passed by South Dakotan voters in November has been repealed by state legislators. The measure would have created an independent ethics commission, banned officials from joining lobbying firms for two years after leaving office, limited lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, and created vouchers to allow registered voters to contribute to candidates.

In Wake of Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell Scandal, Legislators Work to Firm Up Ethics Law: Virginia state lawmakers are working to refine legislation passed in the wake of the former governor’s ethics scandal, including to exempt from disclosure events that are “widely attended” mixers for lobbyists and politicians.

Media: Investigative Journalism About Corruption

Knight-Wallace Fellows Talk Big Data and Investigative Journalism at Panel Discussion: Journalists at a University of Michigan presentation about the challenges facing reporters today spoke about how to investigate complex data leaks, among other topics. Reporters discussed the challenges—and benefits—of sharing data in the collaborative project that resulted in over 100 media outlets publishing information from the so-called “Panama Papers.” Another reporter spoke about a new service called Freedom Voices that is intended to ensure that work started by a journalist who is imprisoned or killed is then carried on by others.

International Issues

Corruption Tour Shines Unflattering Light on Graft in Mexico: An open-air tour bus in Mexico City takes riders on a “Corruptour” to spotlight “the murky world of graft,” including buildings constructed with materials for which the government was overcharged and sculptures commemorating victims of crimes. Tours in London (the “Kleptocracy Tour”), Brazil (a Petrobras tour), and Medellin, Columbia (focusing on Pablo Escobar) employ a similar concept.

Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca Founders Arrested Over Bribery Scandal: Juergen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, founders of the eponymous law firm that was implicated in the Panama Papers scandal, have been arrested in Panama City. Kenia Porcell, Panama’s attorney general, has alleged that the firm was laundering money, including bribes connected to Brazil’s Petrobras case.

European Commission Criticizes Romania Over Prisoner Pardon Plan: The Romanian government has proposed pardoning thousands of convicted criminals, including the leader of the governing party, and releasing them from jail. The European Commission has criticized the proposal, arguing that it would undercut Romania’s recent successes in the fight against corruption.


Amie Ely is the Director of the Center for Ethics & Public Integrity and the Editor of the CEPI Newsletter and may be reached at 202-326-6041. The CEPI Newsletter is a publication of the National Association of Attorneys General. Any use and/or copies of this newsletter in whole or part must include the customary bibliographic citation. NAAG retains copyright and all other intellectual property rights in the material presented in this publication. For content submissions or to contact the editor directly, please e-mail aely@naag.org.

Faculty Spotlight

NAGTRI's faculty are top-rated experts in their field. Read about them.

Course Schedule

NAGTRI offers high-quality, responsive and innovative trainings.

Research & Newsletters

NAGTRI produces comprehensive research and newsletters on topical legal issues.