The exposure and punishment of public corruption is an honor to a nation, not a disgrace. The shame lies in toleration, not in correction. . . . If we fail to do all that in us lies to stamp out corruption we can not escape our share of responsibility for the guilt. The first requisite of successful self-government is unflinching enforcement of the law and the cutting out of corruption.
-- Theodore Roosevelt, State of the Union Address, December 7, 1903
Corruption is often defined as the abuse of public power for private gain. Attorney general offices play an important role in reducing and rooting out corruption. While the federal government prosecutes some forms of public corruption, the Supreme Court has made clear that “federal fraud law leaves much public corruption to the States (or their electorates) to rectify."
Attorneys General and Anticorruption Work
Many state laws criminalize the abuse of public power by, for example:
- Making it illegal to provide or accept bribes.
- Defining impermissible conflicts of interest.
- Requiring compliance with regulations intended to prevent self-dealing by government officials whose duty is to serve the public.
Some attorney general offices provide training to state and local government officials about the laws they are required to follow to avoid and prevent corruption. In some states, the attorney general’s office has a special unit dedicated to investigating and prosecuting corruption. Below are examples of attorney general offices that have developed public integrity bureaus:
Courses and Trainings
- Criminal Law
NAAG Submits Comment Letter on Beneficial Ownership Regulations
Our comments are consistent with the sense of Congress, which requires that regulations “to the greatest extent practicable… collect information in a form and manner that is reasonably designed to generate a database that is highly useful to… law enforcement agencies…” NDAA § 6402(8)(C).
- Criminal Law
Attorneys General Urge Senate to Pass Law to Fight Shell Companies
As our States’ chief legal officers, we are concerned about the use of American financial institutions for money laundering by terrorist groups and other criminal enterprises.
- NAAG, Attorneys General
- Victim Assistance