The Conflict of Interest That Isn’t, But Looks Terrible Anyway

David Becker, the top lawyer at the Securities and Exchange Commission, is suddenly an embarrassment to his employers. He and his two brothers inherited more than $1.5 million in phony profits from their mother’s investment in $65 billion Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. Since the S.E.C. was famously asleep at its post regarding Madoff, its negligence and incompetence allowing him to destroy individual lives, charities and more, having a key lawyer at the regulatory agency profit from Madoff’s scheme, even by inheritance, looks corrupt and unconscionable.  Continue reading

Ethics Hero: Rep. Bobby Scott

A popular, effective and unethical prosecutorial practice among federal investigators is to coerce  businesses and individuals into waiving the attorney client privilege by threatening indictments. The privilege of having absolutely private communications with one’s attorneys in order to get legal advice is a linchpin of the justice system and each citizen’s access to fair treatment under the law.  Forcing individuals to give the privilege up under threat of prosecution is and has always been wrong; after all, a waiver made under a threat is hardly “voluntary.”  U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, (D-Va.), has now introduced H.R. 4326, complementing legislation filed in the Senate earlier this year by U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, to bar this practice. Continue reading