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Changing The Culture Of Corruption

Monday, Sep. 10, 2012

To readers, the headline “Trenton Mayor Arrested in Corruption Investigation” may elicit a ho-hum reaction, but to those who care about ethics in government, it was just another painful reminder that some elected officials continue to use their powerful offices as places to steal from the public.

Mayor Tony Mack, his brother, and a sandwich shop owner have been accused of “conspiring to obstruct, delay and affect interstate commerce by extortion under color of official right.”

The investigation began only two months after the mayor took office in September 2010, according to a United States attorney. The sting involved Mr. Mack using his influence to support a parking garage. But the project was created by the investigators, and caught all three men in a series of lies and bribes. In 2009, a similar sting code -named “Bid Rig,” led to charges against 46 people. Those bribes were also attached to fictitious development projects.

Changing the culture of corruption in any organization is challenging. Changing the culture of corruption in a state where people openly brag, “We’re corruptible” seems impossible. But thorough investigations, vigorous prosecutions, and increased public scrutiny and media attention are all steps in the right direction.

Tags: corruption, New Jersey

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