The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 3)


2014 Conflicts of Interest of the Year

  • Conflicted Elected Official: Philadelphia State Senator LeAnna Washington. This is always an entertaining category. Washington was convicted of using her tax-payer financed staff to organize a yearly campaign fundraiser around her birthday party. When one staffer complained that this was illegal, she reportedly replied, according to his grand jury testimony:

“I am the fucking senator, I do what the fuck I want, and ain’t nobody going to change me. I have been doing it like this for 17 years. So stop trying to change me.”

  • Conflicted Journalist: CNN sent Jay Carney, fresh off his assignment as President Obama’s official spokesman, defender and spinmeister, to cover his ex-boss’s speech.
  • Conflicted  “Non-partisan” Watchdog: CREW. The Center For Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and its chief, Melanie Sloan, finally came clean (after falsely claiming non-profit status as a non-partisan organization for years) by making David Brock, head of the openly partisan, foaming-at-the-mouth anti-Republican media watchdog Media Matters its Chairman of the Board, essentially merging the two groups.
  • Appearance of Impropriety Award: Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La), Republican Whip. It is not certain yet whether Scalise knowingly spoke to a group of white supremacists in 20o2, inadvertently spoke to the group, or just spoke to another group meeting in the same venue before the David Duke-affiliated group of racists started comparing sheets. It isn’t even clear that Scalise knows, but everyone should agree that it looks awful no matter how you categorize it, making the fiasco a classic appearance of impropriety situation. If the Republicans were smart, they would dump him.

Unethical Attire of the Year

Offensive shirt


Unethical Political Candidate of the Year

Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, whose campaign materials were largely plagiarized from the materials other candidates.

Ethically Clueless Voters of the Year

New York’s 11th Congressional District, which contains Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn. These alert and ethical citizens sent back to Washington thuggish and crooked Rep. Michael Grimm (R), then facing a 20-count indictment by federal authorities for fraud, federal tax evasion, and perjury, having earlier distinguished himself by threatening to kill a reporter and being recorded doing so.

  Unethical Advertising of the Year

Lawyer Division:

Public Service Announcement Division:

TV Program Division:

The Discovery Channel’s campaign for “Eaten Alive!” which did not, in fact, feature anyone being “eaten alive,” or at all.

Private Sector Product Division:

Halos. Or perhaps this is the Child Abuse Division:

Political Campaign Division:

Wendy Davis, Democratic candidate for Texas Governor, offered an ad attacking her wheelchair- bound opponent that 1) appealed to bias against the disabled 2) misrepresented the duties of a state attorney general 3) misrepresented the facts of the cases the ad referred to and  4)  deceived the public regarding the ethical duties of lawyers, which Davis, a lawyer, presumably understands.

Unethical Cover Of The Year


The Niggardly Award

(Bestowed on the employer/supervisor  that displays outrageous political correctness by punishing an employee/subordinate for an imaginary slur)

Nomen Global Language Center owner Clarke Woodger, who fired Tim Torkildson saying that his post on the company website about “homophones” (we called them homonyms) was offensive to gays.

   Most Unethical Pastor, Minister or Priest

Rev. Juan McFarland of the Shiloh Missionary Baptist Church in Alabama. In three consecutive sermons beginning  Sunday Sept. 14, he revealed to his flock that he had  sex on the grounds of the church with several church members, used illegal drugs while serving as pastor, stole church funds, and did not disclose to at least one of his sex partners that he was HIV positive.


Fick of the Year

Leroy Fick

For the year’s most deplorable ethical equivalent of the despicable Leroy Fick (above)

Tennessee ‘s Terry Turnage, who has fathered at least 26 children by 15-20 different women, and  has failed to pay child support to any of them, spending his money instead on expensive cars,  parties, and anything else but but his bastard progeny.

Jerks of the Year

Academic Division

Harvard Professor Ben Edelman

Celebrity Division

Alec Baldwin

Idiot of the Year

Nathan Rolf Channing, who, at the peak of the Ferguson controversy, thought it would be funny to make a viral video featuring the reaction of two police officers when he reached into a holster and pulled out a banana.

Unethical Critic Of The Year

Wall Street culture critic Joanna Kaufman, who admitted that she often walks out of the plays she’s supposed to be reviewing at intermission.

Worst Parents Of The Year

Eric and Charlotte Kaufman of San Diego, who brought their 1-year-old daughter Lyra and her 3-year-old sister, Cora along with them as they embarked in March on the great adventure of sailing across the Pacific as the first leg of a planned circumnavigation of the globe. in a 36-foot sailboat.Of course, they had to be rescued. Morons.

Unethical Girlfriend of the Year


V.Stiviano, Donald Sterling’s mistress/beard/ paid escort, who recorded his comments in his bedroom and made them public, causing the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers to be fined, lose his team, and be reviled as a racist nationwide.

Unethical Boyfriend of the Year

Ray “One Punch” Rice.

Ethics Dunce of the Year

The Late Veronica Jean Rutledge, who left  a loaded gun in her purse within reach of her two-year old while she was shopping at Walmart with three little girls in her charge. Her inquisitive son shot her dead, which was among the least horrible scenarios that could have resulted from Rutledge’s outrageous irresponsible conduct.

Unethical Quote of the Year

A tie!!!

“Frankly, it is irritating that anybody would be distracted by which statistics are accurate.”

—Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo), in response to Justice Department statistics that show that the “1 in 5 women will be raped on campus” statistics cited by her and other elected officials and women’s rights advocates were not just inflated, but ridiculously so.


“I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that, in fact, were innocent.”

—Former V.P. Dick Cheney, giving his reactions on “Meet the Press” regarding the Senate’s critique of the Bush Administration and the CIA’s interrogation methods.

Irresponsible Bluff of the Year

President Obama, who even after making the U.S. look weak and feckless with his previous “red line” gaffe regarding Syria’s use of chemical weapons, actually said, in response to the Ukraine’s harsh treatment of protesters…

“The government should know that if it crosses the line, there will be consequences.”

Most Unethical Advice

Emily Yoffe, Slate’s “Dear Prudence,” who advised a nanny who asked if she should tell a couple she poisoned when she worked for them about her actions, since they were now in the hospital and doctors were stumped. Emily said, “Nah!” because she might get in trouble.

Stay tuned for Part Four…

Part 1 is HERE.

Part 2 is HERE

Part 4 is HERE

13 thoughts on “The Sixth Annual Ethics Alarms Awards: The Worst of Ethics 2014 (Part 3)

  1. These are all disturbing, and depressing. Especially so, as I already have a candidate for 2015. A situation is developing as we speak with a homeowner’s association in my small town in Texas that has announced its intention to count abstentions as affirmative votes for amended by-laws. And. neither the city nor the county are willing to help. Jack, if this interests you I have details and the written documents to back it up.

    • Ugh. HOA’s. I’ve had enough run-ins (runs-in?) with ours on such asinine topics on which they decide to dig in their heels…

      Viva la Revolucion!

      Down with the HOAs as they currently operate.

  2. I still think Matt Taylor’s shirt wasn’t horrible. I mean, I get it, it’s unethical, it per se creates a hostile work environment. But I still think that he wore it as more of a “Oh look at me I’m so hipster” As opposed to “Bitch, get in the kitchen and make me a sammich.” I personally would have gone with Miley Cyrus’s getup at the MMA, or the “This is what a feminist looks like” T-Shirt craze that both pressured politicians into professing their love for a minority position, or face pink wrath and were made by women in the third world who were “empowered” by being paid 62p an hour.

    • Based on Matt Taylor’s interview in which he was crying and apologized for his choice of clothing, I think that he was more clueless than anything. I felt really bad for the guy because his shirt became the story rather than his accomplishment. I seem to remember that he had a number of these types of shirts. I would be interested to know if he still wears them to work.

  3. Jack,
    I realize I’m late to the discussion and am focusing on minutiae, but doesn’t this quote (“Ms. DeGeneres, in the days leading up to the broadcast, decided she wanted to take “selfies” during the show and ABC suggested she use a Samsung since it was a sponsor, another person familiar with the matter said.”) undermine your argument against Ellen?

    The selfie (I really f***ing hate that word) idea had been hers prior to the show and it was only after she mentioned in that ABC stepped in with the “Well, it just so happens Samsung is sponsoring this event and think this would be a perfect use for our product.” I realize it wasn’t quite as “spontaneous” as she might have made it seem, but it would seem the original motivation was cleverness, not money — what makes them mutually exclusive?

    • Well, I just see that as bowing to corruption at worst, deceit at best. I watched the show: she pretended that the idea had just come to her. OK, we know that this was unlikely—she’s a pro, and pros usually know what they are going to do on national TV. But she did not say, as she had an obligation to do, that the photo would be used as a Samsung ad, essentially using Ellen’s unpaid “pals” to hype a device while Ellen and ABC were being oaid for it. David Ortiz did the same bait and switch on President Obama.

      Ellen’s original idea was innocent, but it was corrupted. She could and should have said..

      1) No, I’ll use my own device, thanks. OR
      2) As long as we tell everyone its a promotional stunt, OR
      3) Never mind, I’ll think of something else.

  4. I’m still ticked over that ad encouraging children to steal their parents’ firearms and turn them in at their schools. That’s one of the most un-American abuses of children for political (authoritarian) purposes I’ve seen since a Nazi propaganda film showing Hitlerjugend doing much the same thing. That “eaten alive” thing on the Discovery Channel reminded me of why I dropped by subscription to their magazine and haven’t watched their programming for a long time. Even so, I would never have dreamed they’d sell out to such a fantastic extent. However, I have to admit a secret (no longer!) liking for that New York Post headline.

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