The Corruption League of America #3

by Jackie_South on February 24, 2014

Corruption League IconA month ago, we updated you on the progress of our Corruption League of America, our 2014 competition to find the USA’s most corrupt state. In that post, we decried the poor performance of the once-reliably dodgy Louisiana, outshone by usually squeaky keen Virginia in the southern states and left flailing in the wake of the antics of Chris Christie in New Jersey.

This was our summary table last month:

US table 2

What a difference a month makes.

1. Ray Nagin

Louisiana have risen to our challenge with gusto. The biggest is the conviction of former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin on twenty counts of financial skulduggery. Sentence has yet to be passed, but he faces up to twenty years. Here’s the list of shame:

  • Conspiracy (maximum sentence 5 years) – for creating “a scheme and artifice to defraud” the people of New Orleans through bribes and kickbacks
  • 5 counts of Bribery (maximum sentence 10 years) – for a total of $112,500 and two shipments of granite from Three Fold Consulting (an engineering firm) and Home Solutions (a chain of DIY stores)
  • 9 counts of Wire Fraud (a bribe via interstate wire transfer) (maximum sentence 20 years) – for a total of $112,500 for phony ‘consultancy fees’ that were really bribes
  • Money Laundering Conspiracy (maximum sentence 10 years) – for passing those bribes through the financial system
  • 4 counts of Filing a False Tax Return (maximum sentence 3 years) – for 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008

He was acquitted of a sixth charge of bribery.

All of these were related to Nagin’s dealings with two companies seeking to open up their businesses in New Orleans, in the case of Home Solutions in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. In case you were wondering why some bribes were in granite, this ended up with his sons’ kitchen top manufacturing business, which then sold substandard worktops back to Home Solutions.

Nagin could “not recall” some of the circumstances around the bribes, such as the plane trip to New York where he and his family were the sole passengers at Home Solutions’ expense. He claimed that he had so many air trips that he could not recall the details of any of them – you would have thought though that this might have stood out in his mind? Even more so given that he was shown his own thank you letter to them in court.

The only problem is how to score all this. Only one point seems too little, whilst one for each of the twenty charges might finish off our competition two months in. So, Louisiana is going to score a point for each different type of offence Nagin was convicted of: a total of five points.

2. More on Louisiana…

In case Louisiana feels hard done by not getting 20 points, it has managed to pick up a few more points this month.

The former Republican coroner for St Tammany Parish (New Orleans’ northern commuter area across Lake Pontchartrain) Peter Galvan got 2 years in chokey, and a $5,000 fine, for creaming almost $200,000 off the county. Five different offences, ranging from paying himself money for sick leave he didn’t take (despite not being entitled to sick pay) to hiring himself as a doctor (he is qualified) to treat prisoners to plain old fiddling expenses on the credit card. So, using our Nagin rule, that brings Louisiana’s score up to ten.

That’s quite enough points for Louisiana then – we won’t worry too much about how lots of Republicans in safe seats use campaign donations to fund their kids’ businesses or to go and watch golf. None of that is illegal but does not seem too ethical either.

That brings our table for the South to this:

South table 2

3. New York

Three weeks ago, New York congressman Michael Grimm won our Prat of the Week award for being caught on camera threatening to throw a reporter off the balcony of the US Capitol. Not pleasant,but not actually corrupt.

But of course the reason he was so upset was because he was asked about how he had broken the strict rules on campaign finances, which limit the scale of donations any individual can give. His former girlfriend, Diana Durand, has been arrested for breaking the rules and for lying to the FBI. We’ll be watching how this pans out, but for now we are awarding 1 point to New York for this one.

That leaves our North East League looking like this:

NE table 3

4. Wisconsin

The Mid West has yet to figure to date in our League. Our guess had been that Illinois, with the grubbiness of Chicago’s politics, would make the running, but it is its neighbour to the north, Wisconsin, that has been first to break its duck thanks to former All That’s Left Villain of the Week Governor Scott Walker.

Last year, six of Walker’s former aides from the time when he was county executive for Milwaukee County were convicted for illegal campaign activity and theft. They were found guilty of channeling the county’s public funds into Walker’s successful 2010 campaign to become governor. But to date, Walker has not been charged.

Last week that possibility came a little closer as emails came to light showing that Walker knew that county officials and his campaign team were working closely together. What is more, it shows that it was Walker himself that orchestrated the meetings between the two.

This is not yet a smoking gun, but it is worthy of a point for monetary corruption in The Badger State. Another one to keep an eye on as Walker stands for re-election later this year. In the meantime, Wisconsin opens the scores for our Mid West championship:

MW table 1

Scores On The Doors

As the table below shows, this all catapults Louisiana into a healthy lead in the national League.

US table 3

Given how well our exhortations to the Pelican State worked last month, this time we are calling on the Western states to pull their socks up and start playing. Nevada? Alaska? California? Or maybe Colorado or Montana now that they are legally stoned off their noggins most of the time?

corruption map3

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mike Killingworth February 24, 2014 at 12:04 pm

Surely South Carolina should be in there, as it’s produced a Veep who pushes serious bits of stuff under commuter trains…

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