Ethics Dunce: Harvard’s Institute of Politics

Thank God Clinton is a Yalie...

Thank God Clinton is a Yalie…

From the Harvard Gazette (Full disclosure: My parents met at Harvard, so I owe Harvard my life, literally. My mother worked in the Harvard administration f0r 25 years, and I (C 1972, American Government), my sister and my father all graduated from the college):

“IOP [ Institute Of Politics] fall visiting fellows include Hilda L. Solis, former U.S. labor secretary (2009-13) and U.S. representative (CA-32nd, D; 2001-09) and Antonio Villaraigosa, two-term mayor of Los Angeles (2005-13). Visiting fellows traditionally meet with student groups; lead discussion groups on topical issues and their experiences in public and political service; and participate in public policy classes.”

Antonio Villaraigosa engaged in exactly the kinds of unethical practices that Harvard is supposed to be training leaders to eschew. He is neither academically distinguished (he flunked the bar four times) nor an appropriate role model, and for Harvard to intentionally expose its students to a repeat ethics violator like Villaraigosa is a breach of trust and responsibility. It is ethically indefensible.

Right now, I am in a state, Virginia, where the Republican governor, Bob McDonnell, has been exposed for accepting unreported gifts. While mayor, Villaraigosa set the record for the largest ethics fine levied in California state history $41,849 — for failing to disclose about $42,ooo in free tickets he received to Los Angeles Lakers games, the finals of “American Idol” and more than two dozen other sports and entertainment events. Accepting gifts and not reporting them provides the slippery slope to bribery, and involves the use of an official position for personal advantage. Continue reading

The Unpunishable Betrayal of Kwame Kilpatrick

The worst.

The worst.

I have been following the tribulations of former Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick since he was the subject of a civil suit by a bodyguard who claimed that he had been dismissed for uncovering an illicit sexual relationship between the mayor and his aide. Then Mayor, Kilpatrick fought the lawsuit with perjury and by managing to corrupt about a dozen lawyers, including those who worked for the city, many of whom ended up with their licenses suspended. In the end, he was forced to resign and sent to jail for obstructing justice, but the affair with his subordinate turned out to be a tiny tip of a very ugly iceberg. Once the golden glow was removed from Kilpatrick, who had been regarded as Detroit’s savior, other transgressions came into view, far more serious ones. Now he has been convicted of racketeering, and will probably be in prison for decades.

Yet even if he gets the maximum sentence for the 26 charges, including racketeering, fraud and extortion, a Detroit jury convicted him of yesterday, Kilpatrick will be getting off easy. There isn’t a crime on the books, you see, for accepting the trust of a community, a vulnerable, desperate community, yearning for a hero, and then using that trust to satisfy greed, personal gain and selfish motives, while those who put their welfare in your hands suffer and a city dies. That is what Kwame Kilpatrick did to his home town. His sentence, whatever it is, will not render justice for the unpunishable crime of accepting responsibility for the fate of a city, and murdering it while its back was turned. Continue reading