Former Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. was sentenced today to 30 months behind bars and his wife, Sandi, got a year in prison for separate felonies involving the misspending of about $750,000 in campaign funds.
The Jacksons will be allowed to serve their sentences one at a time, with Jackson Jr. going first, based on the wishes of the family as expressed by Dan Webb, an attorney for Sandi Jackson.
Jackson Jr. will report to prison on or after Nov. 1, the judge said.
In addition to the 2.5 years in prison, Jackson Jr. was sentenced to three years of supervised release. Sandi Jackson was ordered to serve 12 months of supervised release following her prison term.
The judge emphasized that Sandi Jackson was sentenced to exactly 12 months, not the year-and-a-day sentence that some criminals get. Defendants sentenced to a year or less cannot qualify for time off for good behavior in prison. But those sentenced to a year and a day can qualify, which means they may end up serving only about 10 months. Under this rule, Sandi Jackson must serve the full year.
If Jackson Jr. earns time off for good behavior in prison, he would serve about 25.5 months.
Cleaning up government:
Has something happened to the concept of public officials serving the public’s good?
In Argentina, the vice president has been caught up in allegations of using his influence to secure a friend’s control over a printing company that has multi-million dollar contracts with the government.
In Germany, the president of the country, Christian Wulff, opted to resign ahead of an official probe into allegations that – while governor of the German state of Lower Saxony – he used his position to secure a low-interest mortgage and free perks like full-paid holidays.
In the United Kingdom, the expanding probe of alleged corruption committed by the British newspaper The News of the World has come to include public officials in the country’s defence ministry and police force.
In South Africa, a parliamentarian from the governing party was found guilty by the legislature’s ethics committee for failing to disclose her interests with a private leasing company that employed members of her family and renovated her own home.
According to people around the world, political parties and parliaments are among the top institutions that are the most prone to corruption. The results, compiled by Transparency International, show that 63 per cent of the more than 100,000 people surveyed consider political parties to be the most corrupt institution in their country. The national legislature follows a close second, as signaled by 57 per cent of those interviewed in 100 countries – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.
Yet these trends are not new.
Perceptions of corruption in political parties and parliaments have been consistent across time and countries, signaling a systemic mistrust on the part of citizens in the bodies that are supposed to represent them.
New findings from our recent study of 25 European countries show that these two institutions are also the weakest forces in promoting integrity. Parliaments have been blamed for not establishing and implementing anti-corruption safeguards, including codes of conduct. Of the 25 countries in the study, only eight have codes of conduct for parliamentarians.
Codes of conduct: Bringing ethics back into government
Whether for parliamentarians or public officials, codes of conduct help to build an atmosphere of ethics. For government officials, they offer a clear, concise frame of reference for an institution’s ethical principles in a single document. Member states of the European Union need to push to get these codes adopted and enforced. But these countries are not alone in lacking codes of conduct to help get the integrity of government back on track.
Within a government, codes of conduct strive to decrease corruption and increase accountability among public officials – whether elected or appointed. The aim of these codes, which may be voluntary norms or legally enforced, is to make sure that the public’s interest is protected. The recent passage of code of conduct for public officials in Delhi has been used as a recourse to rein in political campaigning by standing members. Similar codes have been used to look into potential conflict-of-interest violations by heads of state, from Canada to Israel.
When designed well, codes of conduct offer clear ethical standards and a reference point which citizens and governments can use to assess the behavior of public officials. Codes of conduct typically are combined with sets of penalties and other punishments for public officials found to be in violation of them.
But what exactly is a code of conduct? Is it a set of rules? Or it is more like an ethical Ten Commandments for public officials?
According to one handbook on the topic, codes of conduct are generally value-based guides on how public officials should behave, and outline what they should – and should not – do on the job.
Codes are written documents and generally are divided into three key parts: a statement of principles, rules, and a regulatory framework.
Statement of principle: The section sets out a benchmark for what is expected in terms of public officials’ conduct and ethical behavior.
Rules: Here, concrete issues and expectations for public officials are clearly presented. Topics typically include conflicts of interest, gifts and hospitality, abuse of authority and impartiality.
Regulatory framework: This part outlines the institutional structures available to the state to promote ethical behavior among its employees. It may also demand and establish an independent body to oversee the receipt, investigation and sanctioning of infractions of the code.
Moreno Valley Councilman Marcelo Co has been arrested on suspicion of fraudulently collecting almost $15,000 in government assistance money to care for his mother, including during times she was not living in the United States, Riverside County district attorney’s officials said Monday, Aug. 12.
The eight felony charges, including fraud and grand theft, are unrelated to an ongoing political corruption probe that the FBI and district attorney’s office are conducting in Moreno Valley, District Attorney Paul Zellerbach said Monday night.
It’s been two weeks since the FBI descended on the city and raided the mayor’s house, the homes of four other city council members and a huge warehouse. And since that time, the FBI hasn’t anything about why they searched those locations or what they were hoping to find in the first place.
On April 30, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents served search warrants at the homes of Mayor Tom Owings along with the homes of council members Victoria Baca, Marcelo Co, Jesse Molina and Richard Stewart. Agents also raided the corporate offices of Highland Fairview Developers and Realtor Jerry Stephens.
What were the agents looking for? Who do they have in their crosshairs? The answer to those questions lie at the terminus of a very open-ended ellipsis, as the warrants (both federal and state) are sealed.
“There are no updates, obviously,” said FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller. “Our investigation is pending. We’re seeking evidence based on accusations of wrongdoing.”
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