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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

METHODS OF INVESTIGATING MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION


METHODS OF INVESTIGATING MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION

AGENCIES RESPONSIBLE FOR INVESTIGATING MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION ARE EXAMINED, INCLUDING LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES, GRAND JURIES, EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS, AND PRIVATE ORGANIZATIONS.

FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES CAN BE AUTHORIZED TO INVESTIGATE MUNICIPAL ACTIVITIES IF VIOLATIONS OF FEDERAL STATUTES SUCH AS INTERSTATE COMMERCE ARE SUSPECTED. A LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION DEFINES A COMMITTEE'S SCOPE, DECISION MAKING POWERS, PERIOD OF OPERATION AND FUNDING. CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES CAN BE EMPOWERED TO HOLD HEARINGS AND ISSUE SUPOENAS. A WITNESS CAN REFUSE TO TESTIFY WHEN ANSWERS MIGHT BE INCRIMINATING BUT COULD FACE FEDERAL PERJURY CHARGES. A STATE LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEE CAN BE ESTABLISHED IN A SIMILAR MANNER TO INVESTIGATE A MUNICIPALITY'S ADMINISTRATION OF STATE LAWS, ALTHOUGH POLITICAL ALLIANCES BETWEEN STATE AND MUNICIPAL OFFICERS MIGHT HINDER ITS EFFECTIVENESS. THE PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELF-INCRIMINATION IS AVAILABLE IN ALL STATES, BUT PERJURY SANCTIONS VARY. THE INVESTIGATIVE AUTHORITY OF A CITY COUNCIL DEPENDS ON ITS LEGISLATIVE CHARTER AND FREQUENTLY EXTENDS ONLY TO MUNICIPAL ORDINANCES. TIME, MONEY, AND STAFFING REQUIREMENTS FOR AN INVESTIGATION ARE DETERMINED BY COUNCIL MEMBERS, SOME OF WHOM MAY BE CORRUPT. A MUNICIPAL COMMITTEE CANNOT HOLD HEARINGS, ENFORCE SUPOENAS, OR GRANT IMMUNITY UNLESS AUTHORIZED BY THE STATE LEGISLATURE. GRAND JURIES ARE LIMITED TO CRIMINAL MATTERS UNLESS GRANTED SPECIAL AUTHORITY; TERMS ARE SET BY LAW AND USUALLY FOLLOW THAT OF THE COURT. MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION CAN BE INVESTIGATED INDIRECTLY BY FEDERAL EXECUTIVE AGENCIES SUCH AS THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE AND THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT. STATE ATTORNEY GENERALS HAVE INVESTIGATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES, BUT THEIR STAFFS OFTEN HAVE POLITICAL TIES WITH SUSPECTED MUNICIPAL OFFICIALS AND DEPEND ON LOCAL POLICE FOR ASSISTANCE. CITY CRIME COMMISSIONS, PROFESSIONAL GROUPS, AND NEIGHBORHOOD COMMITTEES HAVE SUCCESSFULLY UNCOVERED MUNICIPAL CORRUPTION, RELYING ON INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATORS AND CITIZEN SUPPORT. ONCE CORRUPTION IS DISCOVERED, SEVERAL CORRECTIVE ACTIONS CAN BE TAKEN: ELECTION OF A REFORM TICKET, CRIMINAL PROSECUTION, OR REMOVAL FROM OFFICE BY EXECUTIVE ORDER. A RECURRENCE OF CORRUPTION CAN BE PREVENTED BY FORMAL LEGISLATION AND PRIVATE VIGILANCE. FOOTNOTES ARE PROVIDED.


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Public corruption is one of the FBI’s top investigative priorities—behind only terrorism, espionage, and cyber crimes. Why? Because of its impact on our democracy and national security. Public corruption can affect everything from how well our borders are secured and our neighborhoods protected…to verdicts handed down in courts…to the quality of our roads and schools. And it takes a significant toll on our pocketbooks, too, siphoning off tax dollars. Learn more here about our national program and local investigations.

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