Judy Nadler, senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, looks at ethical dilemmas, scandals, and best practices in government.
Friday, Jul. 29, 2011 1:49 PM
As a part of an on-going series of case studies in government ethics, summer intern Jason Wu wrote the following scenario about civility at council meetings. Discussion questions follow; we encourage your comments.
As a four-term mayor of the city of Brookstone, Paul Mackey had done his best to manage the city’s budget over the years. Despite his efforts, he still found himself in the midst of an economic crisis. Many neighboring cities were undergoing drastic cutbacks to their programs, and Brookstone was no exception.
Having proposed several unpopular options that would slash funding to city services, Mackey fielded phone calls every day from angry citizens who demanded a plan that would keep their favorite programs intact. The pressure was mounting upon Mackey to deliver something that would satisfy the public and be supported by the council. His patience was wearing thin.
A few days prior to the next council meeting, Mackey had a long conversation with Joan Anderson, a vocal critic of his budget plans. That afternoon, Ms. Anderson filed a complaint with the police department saying that she had felt personally threatened by the mayor. “I asked Mr. Mackey how he could in good conscience consider cutting funding to our bookmobile, and he just snapped,” Anderson said.
The complaint appeared in the local newspaper and led to an interview with the mayor. Mackey denied the allegation, and maintained that he had never shouted at a constituent “in all my years of service as a public official.”
Because there was no evidence to back up either of their statements, the case was closed.
However, Anderson remained determined to make her voice heard. She sent an email to the mayor that outlined her own budget plan, and she also invited him to meet for coffee and settle their differences. Mackey responded by writing, “Your comments are like those of a gadfly-you are never happy and you never have a solution but you always have lots of complaints.”
Outraged by his reply and armed with copies of the email, Anderson filed a complaint with the city clerk and city manager claiming that Mackey had violated Brookstone’s Code of Ethics. Since Brookstone did not have an independent ethics commission to investigate potential violations, it was up to the council members to take action. The city clerk and city manager forwarded the copies of the email to the council members, and Anderson’s complaint was agendized for an upcoming city council meeting.
At the meeting, Anderson pointed out that Brookstone’s Code of Ethics made it clear that officials had to act at all times with “respect, courtesy, and concern.” She added that the code also said that “officials who violate the Code of Ethics will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including removal from office.”
Emily Lam, the vice-mayor of Brookstone, proposed that the council submit the issue to the ethics subcommittee, which would review the incident. The other council members and the mayor agreed that this was the best course of action.
Two weeks later, the ethics subcommittee delivered their report at a city council meeting. They recommended that the council issue a formal reprimand, which would amount to a slap on the wrist for Mackey. The mayor recused himself from the vote, and the other council members voted 4-0 in favor of the motion for a reprimand and tried to move on.
However, Mackey was furious with the resolution. “We’re facing the biggest financial crisis in Brookstone’s history, and instead of dealing with it we’re just wasting our time on these petty complaints,” he said. Embarrassed by his outburst, the other council members were anxious to resolve the infighting and get back to the business of managing the budget shortfall.
- How should the mayor and the council handle citizen complaints such as the one made by Ms. Anderson?
- Is Mackey’s email really a violation of the Code of Ethics or is it simply part of the “rough and tumble” world of politics?
- Is there a difference between a Code of Ethics and a Code of Conduct or Council Protocol?
- What can the mayor and council do to restore civility in the conduct of council meetings and repair their relationships with each other?
- What role, if any, does the city manager play in “keeping the peace”?
Thursday, Jul. 28, 2011 3:53 PM
The debate over the debt ceiling has convinced me that we should mix things up in the House and Senate chambers, and eliminate the aisles.
In the same way my elementary school teachers would move students around the room periodically, we should require the Democrats and Republicans to change their seats, mixing members of the two parties, and eliminating the “divide” that the current layout fosters. In U.S. politics “across the aisle” refers to ideological differences between the parties, but also refers where the members sit-to the left or right of an aisle in the chamber.
The ability to “reach across the aisle” seems to have diminished to the degree that members of one party are encouraged not to fraternize with the members of the other party. This polarization can only serve to encourage and ensure a stalemate on the debt ceiling vote and other important issues.
What do you think? Short of trading seats, is there any way to encourage interaction and cooperation between the two political parties?
Wednesday, Jul. 27, 2011 4:57 PM
I spoke with a reporter recently who was writing about gifts elected officials were taking but not disclosing. More troubling, many of the officeholders said they “couldn’t remember” whether or not they had gone to the Super Bowl courtesy of a major business interest. How could this be?
It’s difficult to explain the “selective memory” excuse, since tickets to major sporting events, Broadway shows, and golf excursions at exclusive country clubs are not only memorable, but out of the reach of most of the public. However, there is is a theory about how officeholders get themselves into trouble: they step onto the “slippery slope.”
The simplest definition in the dictionary for this phenomenon is “dangerous situation.” In politics, the slippery slope generally refers to an ethical decision that starts with no consequences, but subsequent decisions make it more difficult to discern right from wrong. Without knowing it, the individual has “crossed the line” and done something unethical. The slope is especially slippery when gifts or special privileges are involved.
A common excuse for unethical behavior is “everyone else is doing it.” Another way to explain this behavior is to claim, “it’s not that bad.” This always leaves me wondering what would be bad? My personal favorite is the officeholder who is insulted by an ethics complaint, protesting, “I cannot be bought off by…(a round of golf, playoff tickets--you fill in the blank).
Not all the blame rests with the public officials. After all, they are just accepting a gift or benefit that has been offered by a lobbyist, special interest group, or grateful citizen.
It may not be easy to resist to these temptations, but nobody ever said being in public life would be easy.
Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2011 3:26 PM
Politicians who travel to exotic places “on business” are apt to draw negative attention, but in New York, the travel drew a $20,000 fine.
Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz took several overseas trips for official city business, but because he brought his wife the Conflicts of Interest Board found him guilty of an ethical violation. The fact that wife Jamie accompanied him was deemed to be “accepting travel expenses for his wife for each trip, using his position as a public servant for private or personal advantage. Simply put, his wife was able to travel with him abroad –for free.”
The trips in question were to Turkey (twice) and to the Netherlands. Markowitz argues neither he nor his wife received any personal benefit from the trips, saying, “when they bring you over it’s not vacation –they make you work.”
In making its decision, the board noted Mrs. Markowitz is not an official staff member, quoting a New York City Charter provision that states “no public servant shall use or attempt to use his or her position as a public servant to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant.”
Although he will pay the fine, Markowitz maintains he did nothing wrong, and called the ruling a “terrible decision.”
Reading the comments posted to the New York Times article show opposing reactions to this story. Several readers felt Markowitz was a hard-working public servant, and expressed support for “the option of bringing a spouse on international travel, particularly if it’s for more than a few days.”
The majority of the reactions were negative: “another politician who thinks that ethics laws apply to everybody but him.” A common thread was expressed by one reader who wrote “Is he serving his constituents in any way by taking these contrived missions of good will, which in essence are nothing more than ‘vacations?’ These kind of junkets are what sour people on politicians.”
What do you think? Is travel a perk or part of the job? Should a spouse or companion be allowed a “free ride” or be made to pay for the trip and accompanying expenses? Let me know by posting a comment here.
Monday, Jul. 25, 2011 4:16 PM
Term limits are a perennial topic in California, with strong voices for and against limiting the time an elected official may hold office. But the latest study by the Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) says “term limits force California legislators to take their expertise to other government offices, not keep it in the state legislature.”
The report, “Citizen Legislators or Political Musical Chairs? Term Limits in California,” says the 1990 move to limit legislators to a specified term was intended to create “citizen legislators” who would go back to the private sector upon completing their service. What has happened, according to CGS research, is that most state legislators go on to other kinds of elective office, creating “an ongoing cycle of ‘political musical chairs’ in which many California legislators seek other government positions, even before they are termed out.”
A statewide measure, expected to be on the June 2012 ballot, would seek to revise the current limits by reducing the total time from 14 to 12 years, but allowing all 12 years be served in the same office.
According to Bob Stern, president of the non-profit CGS, the proposed revisions would give legislators more experience in office and “increase the institutional memory of the legislature.”
The report looks at term limits from an historical perspective, and also includes findings on age, race, gender, experience, and educational diversity among California legislators.
Share your thoughts here – should term limits remain in place or did the intentions of the proponents cause more harm than good?
Friday, Jul. 22, 2011 3:19 PM
He insists it wasn’t an act of retaliation, but the congressman who proposed a 40% cut in the budget of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) was a target of an ethics investigation last year.
Rep. Melvin Watt of North Carolina said he supported the amendment because “the work by the ethics office is at times abusive, causing unnecessary embarrassment of House members.” Rep. Steve King of Iowa went even further with his criticism, accusing the ethics office of violating “Roman law, English common law, and the decency of the House.”
The vote was 102-302, and members were forced to go on the record rather than voting by voice. Acknowledging there may be some problems with the OCE, one congressman said the cuts were not the answer. Rep. Michael E. Capuano of Massachusetts called the cuts “draconian punishment” that look like an attempt to say “We’re the boss; you’re not.”
The ethics office can investigate but not punish House members, and has looked into charges levied against both parties. While Mr. Watt’s case was referred to the committee, no charges were ever filed against him.
Legislation seeking to silence ethical checks and balances only serves to add to the perception that all politicians are crooks. Whether it is the OCE or a local ethics commission doing the work, it’s good to remember the words of Sophocles: “Don’t kill the messenger.”
Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2011 4:19 PM
Long known for corrupt government, Taiwan is taking significant steps to end such activities by establishing its first anti-corruption government agency.
The Agency Against Corruption (AAC) will be under the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) and led by a previous MOJ counselor. “The agency’s aim is to fight corruption, raise the conviction rate of corruption cases, and protect human rights.”
Ethics officers and investigators will make up the 180-person agency, including employees who handled a major scandal in 2008. In that case, the ex-minister of Interior was given a two-prison term but was instead suspended for five years.
The agency will rely on tips from local government organizations, and will work closely with law enforcement in their investigations. From there, the cases will be turned over to prosecutors.
Friday, Jul. 15, 2011 4:07 PM
Summer wildfires in California are an annual event. Ranging from small hillside fires to roaring infernos covering thousands of acres, a good chunk of the budget goes to fight those fires. Now, the bill will go property owners.
By signing Assembly Bill 29, Governor Jerry Brown established a “fire protection and prevention fee” intended to cover wildland areas now paid for by the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE). The $150 fee for each structure within state responsibility areas is expected to save $50 million for CAL FIRE and $200 million in ongoing general fund savings.
The governor, while praising the bill, admits the legislation needs additional work to address legal and other issues.
Deciding to build a home on a steep hillside, in a secluded forest area, or near the ocean side, all present significant difficulties for fire and rescue personnel –above and beyond what is encountered in urban areas.
Who should pay for mitigating expensive disasters? The debate continues: some argue that if you make the decision to live in a remote or disaster-prone area you should pay the costs. The property owners impacted by this fee argue that their tax dollars cover the expenses, and they should not be singled and asked to pay more.
What do you think?
Wednesday, Jul. 13, 2011 3:58 PM
As campaign season heats up, the number of ethical dilemmas for candidates, staff, and volunteers also increases. Here is one based on an interview I had recently with a reporter. It points out the challenges of being both a candidate and an officeholder.
Texas Representative Michael McCaul’s chief of staff Greg Hill has also been working for his boss on the campaign. He has not taken a leave of absence during the campaign, leading to the question: How can you be working for the officeholder and paid by the public while you are simultaneously being paid by the candidate as a campaign staff member?
There are several scenarios that raise a red flag here:
• How can an employee campaign while on government property and presumably using public resources?
• When advising the representative on legislative matters, is the chief of staff (COS) making that recommendation because it is good policy or because it will benefit the campaign?
• Are lobbyists more likely to get access to the officeholder if the COS knows it could lead to a campaign contribution?
• How can you separate the two jobs – and which one might suffer because of this arrangement?
Do you see any other problems that might occur in this scenario, or does it seem okay to you?
Post your comments, and they will help add to our debate over campaign ethics.
Thursday, Jul. 7, 2011 4:53 PM
Summer jobs are hard to come by, so you can imagine the response from the public when it was revealed that the mayor of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania hired his daughter and niece to work at city hall this summer.
Mayor Tom Leighton saw nothing wrong with the hires, which had been recommended by the city’s human relations manager. But the positions had not been posted—so the general public didn’t know about them- and the mayor signed the paperwork.
When I spoke with the reporter covering the story for the Citizen’s Voice, the first thing that came to mind was nepotism, a violation of ethics laws. The mayor was asked if he thought the decision was a violation of the state Ethics Act. “Not that I’m aware of, I don’t think.”
The reader comments in the article “Leighton rubber stamped family jobs,” decried the mayor’s actions and expressed concern that there might be other problems at city hall. “It’s now the time to look into other shady deals that come out of this mayor’s office,” wrote one reader. Another vowed to mail a complaint to the State Ethics Commission.
This type of negative response is only one of the consequences of nepotism, broadly defined as showing favoritism to members of the family. There are several other serious concerns:
• Fairness. Was the same opportunity given to all members of the public to apply for these positions? It looks like the mayor’s relatives had an advantage not offered to others.
• Competency. Favoritism undermines the confidence in the qualifications of the employee. In other words, was this person hired on the basis of ability and experience, or because of a family connection? Favoritism can also create tension among employees who may feel there is an unfair standard in performance reviews.
• Public trust. As the comments from the readers show, there is already skepticism about government employees, and nepotism only makes it worse.
To read more about favoritism and nepotism, including case studies, visit our Web site.
Wednesday, Jul. 6, 2011 4:08 PM
With the conviction of former Governor Rod Blagojevich, Illinois has another scandal to overcome, and Governor Pat Quinn says he is ready to enact sweeping reforms. “This is my mission,” he said, “to reform our government so we do not have governors going to jail.”
Quinn is proposing an “ethics initiative” including reforms such as new limits on campaign fundraising as well as strengthening the Illinois Freedom of Information Act. He is even suggesting “giving the voters the opportunity at the ballot box to pass strong, no-nonsense ethics laws to protect the taxpayers and protect the public.”
But as an editorial in the Northwest Herald points out, Quinn has already made some decisions that call into question his true commitment to reform. “Quinn’s deeds must match his words.” In particular, the paper criticizes a legislative and congressional “remap” that was rejected by his Reform Commission.
Changing the ethical culture of a city or state with a history of corruption is a big job, and one that can only be accomplished with when leaders take strong actions that match their promises.
Tuesday, Jul. 5, 2011 3:36 PM
California has nothing on Minnesota when it comes to legislators at loggerheads over the state budget.
The state shut down a variety of government services last week, and Governor Mark Dayton is now meeting with his colleagues to try to hammer out a deal to close a $5 billion gap in Minnesota’s two-year budget.
The shutdown has had a significant impact on the day-to-day business conducted by government. For example, you can’t take your driver’s test, state parks have been closed, and some 20,000 workers have been furloughed. But as humorist and author Garrison Keillor points out in his “Prairie Home Companion” program, Minnesotans are hard-working and creative, and are not going to let the shutdown ruin their summer.
I recently spent a few days visiting friends in the small city of Winona (population about 28,000). During my short stay I attended three free outdoor concerts, visited the county history museum, toured a refuge center for bald eagles, saw two outstanding plays staged by the Great River Shakespeare Company, enjoyed a performance at the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, and even attended a political rally. None of these events would have been possible without the vision and determination of a community that comes together for events as diverse as the Winona Steamboat Days and the Frozen River Film Festival.
Seeing the sense of civic pride, community cooperation, and a “can-do” attitude was inspiring. There are a number of empty retail buildigs downtown, and the city has suffered the downturn in the economy. So while the underwriters of the events included a few of the local banks and businesses along with Winona State University, the majority of the sponsors and volunteers were individuals, couples, and families.
There are many services we count on our government to provide, and it is my hope that Minnesota and all the states engaged in budget battles are able to find a fair and equitable compromise on their political differences.
Perhaps they should spend a few days in their home districts, and take some of that local “gumption” back to the statehouse.
Tuesday, Jun. 21, 2011 3:59 PM
Boldly moving beyond their traditional issues, the United States Conference of Mayors voted overwhelmingly to seek the end to U.S presence in Afghanistan.
Meeting in Baltimore, the mayors were not so much making a political statement but a practical one. By bringing the troops home the mayors were asking President Obama to reinvest the billions spent on our overseas involvement to “meet vital human needs, promote job creation, rebuild our infrastructure, aid municipal and state governments, and develop a new economy based upon renewable, sustainable energy and reduce the federal debt.”
The annual meeting is usually a time for passing resolutions on issues such as energy, transportation, education, public safety, housing, and the like. This year the mayors acknowledged the harm that will come to cities when important federal programs are cut due to budget shortfalls.
Monday, Jun. 20, 2011 4:49 PM
Soon after Sharon Bartlett announced she was running for the Huber city council she was approached by Ken MacDonald, a local campaign consultant. MacDonald said he was hardworking and “relentless” when working for his clients, stressing that he was especially successful in conducting opposition research. He mentioned a “bonus” he could offer as part of his contract: writing about the campaigns and the local political scene in his blog.
Sharon declined the offer, saying she had decided to count on her friends and family to help her with campaign strategy. MacDonald ended up working for her opponent, and began to increase his posts on “In the Kitchen with Ken” (which was subtitled “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen”).
At first MacDonald used the blog to poke fun at her “homespun” campaign and make jokes about her height (she was just over 5 feet tall). As time went on the attacks increased. He wrote a blistering criticism of her remarks at a candidate forum and called her a “pathetic example of a candidate.”
Sharon decided to “toughen up” and ignore the lies that were being written about her. She assumed, as a political newcomer, this was just part of the “rough and tumble” world of local politics. Her supporters however, became enraged as each day a new post, unflattering Photoshop picture, or personal insult was published about her. More troubling were the articles that misrepresented her position on important city issues.
Sharon called a meeting of her campaign manager, family members, and key supporters to announce that she was not going to respond in any way. “The people who know me don’t believe anything he writes. I’m going to ignore it, and stay focused on the issues in this campaign. Besides, the voters are going to grow tired of this after a while.”
The next week she received a call from a friend asking her if she had “lost her mind” by creating a blog of her own. Apparently a new blog, titled “Krazy Ken” was posting dozens of insulting and hateful comments about Mr. MacDonald. Sharon was at a loss to figure out who created the blog. Everyone she spoke to was equally shocked, and she was receiving e-mails from voters criticizing her for this apparent act of retaliation. She began to worry about her chances of being elected.
The local newspaper picked up the story from an anonymous source and interviewed Mr. MacDonald and her campaign opponent who agreed “all indications point to Sharon."
The City of Huber had a Code of Ethics but it did not include any provisions for the actions of a candidate, his or her supporters, or “third party” independent involvement or expenditures. “We deal with folks once they have been sworn in to office,” said the city attorney. “During the campaign we support the right of free speech and maintain a ‘hands off’ approach.”
- What should Sharon do to reassure her supporters she did not initiate nor does she support the “Krazy Ken” blog?
- Is it possible Ken MacDonald himself writes “Krazy Ken” in order to draw attention away from the negative comments on his blog?
- Is this a case that a county or city ethics commission should handle?
- Should Sharon go to the media, including the editorial board, to denounce this? What else might she say to the media?
- Would talking to the press serve to highlight the mud-slinging and look like a face-saving effort?
- How can Sharon re-focus the campaign on important city issues rather than having this scandal overtake the campaign?
- What actions might be taken in the future to ensure campaigns in Huber were conducted in a more ethical manner?
Post your thoughts and suggestions so we can have a discussion of Sharon's options.
Thursday, Jun. 16, 2011 4:00 PM
As the Rolling Stones say, “You can’t always get what you want.”
That is certainly the theme in Sacramento and cities across California as the state budget passed both houses by the June 15 deadline. But nobody was happy with the document, and Governor Jerry Brown promptly signed a veto.
Arguing that there would be no gimmicks in eliminating the state deficit, Brown said the document “ continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing, and unrealistic savings. We can—and must—do better.”
The $26 billion deficit has created friction between the Democrats and Republicans, with Governor Brown trying to reason with both sides. In the end, he criticized Republicans for refusing an important part of his plan: to let the voters have a say in how the balance will be achieved.
Brown wanted voters to decide on extending personal income and sales tax increases, a provision the Republicans would concede only if proposals such as a spending cap were included, along with reforms in both pension and regulatory programs.
This is the first time in 25 years the California lawmakers have been able to meet their constitutional deadline, but it may have been rushed due to a proposition passed last November that said: no budget on time, no paycheck. The voters will undoubtedly be unhappy with one concession by the governor that allows legislators to continue to be paid. Previously, State Controller John Chiang said he would permanently withhold lawmakers' pay and per diem starting June 16 if they did not pass a balanced budget.
So for now the Golden State will have to rely on another song from the Rolling Stones that laments, “I can’t get no satisfaction.”
Photo by freedom to marryavailable under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial License.
Wednesday, Jun. 15, 2011 3:18 PM
The patchwork of conflict-of-interest laws is a major stumbling block for public officials at all levels of government. From lax to stringent, the ethical interpretation of a “conflict” has largely been relegated to the affected jurisdiction. Until now.
The Supreme Court has just made it very clear – to legislators and city councilmembers—that they cannot vote on matters where there is a conflict of interest, and they cannot claim “governmental votes cast by elected officials are free speech protected by the First Amendment.”
Writing that conflict-of-interest rules “have been commonplace for over 200 years,” Justice Antonin Scalia argued the right to vote in a legislative body “is not personal to the legislator but belongs to the people. The legislator has no personal right to it.”
The unanimous decision overturned an earlier ruling by the Nevada Supreme Court, stemming from a censure of a Nevada councilman by the Nevada Commission on Ethics. Councilman Michael Carrigan cast a vote in favor of a hotel and casino project that was backed by his campaign manager.
It is encouraging is to see an Ethics Commission willing to tackle these types of violations. Far too many commissions lack the authority or will to move on ethics charges.
You can read more about conflicts of interest, including case studies, by visiting http://www.scu.edu
Monday, Jun. 13, 2011 3:09 PM
“Politicians Behaving Well” was the best headline I’ve read in months.
In his recent New York Times column, David Brooks takes us away from today’s salacious stories and reminds us of a time when discussions centered on good behavior rather than sex, lies, and Twitter exchanges.
He quotes Edmund Burke’s definition of political excellence, including the notion of self respect, the ability to have educated and reflective conversations, and, “to be led to a guarded and regulated conduct, from a sense that you are considered as an instructor of your fellow citizens in their highest concerns…”
Quaint as these notions sound today, it is worth reflecting on what it means to be honest and honorable, to be an individual of integrity and moral courage, and to accept the responsibility as well as the honor of public service.
Wednesday, Jun. 8, 2011 5:13 PM
"Everything is changing. People are taking their comedians seriously and the politicians as a joke." —Will Rogers
There might have been time when I considered that humor, but in the past year I have seen so many public officials indicted, engage in pay-to-play schemes, take freebies from lobbyists, violate campaign finance laws, and admit to sexual scandals I’ve lost my sense of humor.
There have been periods in our recent history when public trust has been shaken by criminal or unethical behavior (Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearing, for example) but I have grown weary of the pot shots that reflect poorly on the other government employees– the people who work hard every day on behalf of the public.
The common phrase “close enough for government work” is an example of how we have changed our view of excellence. The original quote is said to be “good enough for government work,” and it described a product or action that was of the highest standards. The current, popular interpretation indicates shoddy or barely passable work.
So I’m calling for a moratorium on denigrating quotes, jokes, and bumper stickers that ridicule government. Things may not be perfect on the local, state, or federal level, but we don’t need to add to the cynicism.
Tuesday, Jun. 7, 2011 5:06 PM
The slow and painful revelations about New York Representative Anthony Weiner have ignited a firestorm of reactions from the political parties, the press, and the public. (See these comments from the New York Times for a taste of the debate.) After days of insisting his account was hacked, explaining how photos can be manipulated or doctored, he admitted his three-year history of engaging in inappropriate on-line relationships with young women.
As I watched the story unfold I became more and more concerned about his inability to answer the straightforward questions put to him, and his attempts to pass this off as either a prank or the work of a hacker. I have watched virtually every video interview, including his final admission, and the one thing that I cannot understand is his continual insistence on the truth. In many of the press interactions he used phrases like “I want to be honest with you,” or “To be honest with you.” But he was not trying to be honest with anyone – he was clearly not telling the truth. In fact, he was lying. His lies are no less damaging than lies told by other elected officials when they are caught in bribery, extortion, election fraud, or other coverups.
A Chinese proverb says: Gold cannot be pure, and people cannot be perfect. We may not be able to expect perfection from our elected officials, but we expect and deserve honesty.
Monday, May. 16, 2011 9:58 PM
I am taking a short break from the blog and will resume in early June. But just because I'm pausing, it doesn't mean you should.
Why don't you take a few minutes to post your comments on the recent headlines? I'll look forward to reading them and responding in a couple of weeks!