[Writer is not an attorney or member of the Colorado Bar, but is a member of the Bench – C.M.J.A. - Colorado Municipal Judges Assn., since 2010.]
Whether a public employee takes an oath (or not) to serve as a public official, police officer, judge, officer of the court or accepts a dollar of salary operating a saw or a shovel or enlists in any branch of government or stands in front of a classroom or applies a bandage in the back of an ambulance, they all are part & parcel of public service. To serve the people, however low the grade or high the office means to fulfill the trust our citizens give us to earn the salary honourably, with honesty and integrity.
It’s that simple. We, the people have to believe we can trust public employees paid from the sweat we put into every tax dollar that is given them. Corruption is a disease and a betrayal. Two major types are bribing or accepting bribes in the open or hidden, but deliberate, by not doing what’s required. There’s a reason they are called “public servants,” because they serve the country and the people.
Corrupt mindsets begin with willful or deliberate ignorance of the law. An individual who believes they can operate their vehicle at 45 mph in a 35 mph zone ignores the law, a launch pad for thinking they’re above the law, - it doesn’t apply to them -. We’re fortunate in this country, if we believe the 35 mph zone should be 45 mph we can seek the law’s redress, not by breaking it. Ignorance of the law is no defense.
Sept. 23: Last weekend the Democrat herd of Presidential candidates in Iowa blathered on about many things overshadowed by unadulterated hatred. Bitterness isn’t substance. Hatred, right, left or in-between is divisive and a perilous road to travel.
TV shows the foreground, focusing on the “candidate.” In close shots, Uncle Joe Biden was before a gaggle of reporters and microphones. I was trained to see the full frame, front to back. Behind Biden stood Union people in T-Shirts “Firefighters for Biden.” O.K. So where’s the corruption? It’s like looking for Waldo, it’s so obvious we don’t see it. It’s what we expect by association.
Firefighters have every right to campaign off duty. Without exception state and federal employees are prohibited from campaigning “on duty” and from using government phones, copiers, buildings, equipment and office supplies in political support of any candidate or law. See it? There, a big red & white officially emblazoned pumper truck worth tens of thousands dollars. Do you see it yet?
The government (taxpayer) owned fire truck was adorned with signs carrying the same slogan as the T-Shirts. Using public property to support a politician is illegal as hell. The Fire Dept. should be cited for violating law. The union should be charged with violating campaign laws and the individuals using the equipment should be charged with violating the Hatch Act. That corruption is overt omission or ignoring the law. What should we do about cleaning up our country? Start at home, one county, one town, one state at a time.
[To be clear, fire trucks in parades or non-partisan “welcome home affairs,” etc. isn’t corruption. Putting a political sign on them is.]
Enforce the laws we have! It’s our Public Trust Violated!
Corruption is as simple as theft of public property, embezzlement of money or public funds, it’s personal use of equipment or services by public employees. To embezzle by fraud, using public assets and filing false public vouchers is illegal. Making false statements, financial records or interfering in the legal operation of government is wrong. Destruction of public property and records are also felonies. Hindering or obstructing elections, false returns, tampering with election machines, is also illegal.
A lie under oath attaches to thefts when public employees file paperwork signed under penalty of felony. Direct or implied it’s perjury. Those were the easiest cases to prove and started bigger corruption cases. They couldn’t blame their signature on others. Forging signatures of a public official or creating a false document is also a felony.
One of our main functions at the NM Attorney General’s Ofc. was investigating public corruption. Arrests for violation of public trust and oaths of office were most rewarding.
[I’ve got to say our Clerk / Recorder / Election bureau is one of the most clean, clear, professional & ethical I’ve ever seen. likewise the Treasurer and Assessor Offices are about as ethical as I’ve ever seen. Those three main functionaries of our County government have also been helpful, sworn to their public duty. Trustworthy, that’s it.]
Fixing Corruption: Make good cases and book ‘em Dan-O
- Gun Control: Enforce the 10,000 or so state and federal laws on the books. Don’t use the charges as chips to plea away. Enforce parole / probation violations.
- Environment and climate: Enforce the immense volumes of laws on the state and federal books [CFR]. We already have the laws needed for cleaning up our country.
- Elections: Enforce the scadillions of laws and regulations on the state and federal books. [The voice of experience: pervasive use of false I.D. is one of the most used election frauds followed by forgery and coercion. Legal photo-I.D.s, start to finish is essential, not suppresssion.]
- Healthcare, Medicare and Medicaid. Save billions by enforcing the tons of state and federal laws. Arrest the embezzlers, fraud artists, and doctors that violate their licensing laws and regulations. Put these betrayers of public trust in jail for hard time. Eliminate frivolous and fraudulent law suits [torts].
- Drug Abuse and Trafficking: Enforce the laws! Arrest the hundreds of doctors and pharmacists who’ve gotten rich over-prescribing or conspired with traffickers to supply opioids and other “pain management” drugs by the millions. Perdue may have produced the drugs, but the promotion of over-prescribing and charging for illicit prescriptions or supplying “script pads” for sale are downstream from them or any other manufacturers. Get DEA, state and local agencies to charge cases and jail the medical mal-practitioners who’ve allowed themselves to become corrupt and go against their oaths.
Oaths either spoken, attested to, implied or signed are sacred vestments that are pledges of honour, not trivial. They’re words given to be honest and dutiful. If oaths are broken, trust is broken. Violators should be prosecuted to the full extent of the laws. Corruption sells off our liberty for pennies.
In God, We Trust. Enforcing our laws is the Equalizer. Travel well.