Sunday, June 16, 2013

"I Don't Need Ethics Because I'm a Good Man."

That phrase was spoken by someone I worked with long ago and maybe in a galaxy far, far away. But it was spoken. The Speaker was LDS and well connected in the community and even to LDS Church leaders. It appalled me. Yet I understood the sentiment.

I think I've explained on the blog that I didn't really like law school because it's a bunch of arrogant smarty-pants competing against each other on stage before professors supposedly trying to make us think and reason by creating impossible-to-resolve hypotheticals. I hate hypotheticals. Once, infuriated by the whole process I told my "Ethics" Professor I understood that one needs to learn the rules of professional ethics to comply with the requirements, but if I didn't come in his room already an ethical person there was no way he could make me one. (I especially hated hypothetical ethics).

But the point is, being good or ethical is not enough. We have to follow some basic rules of professional conduct across the board especially in a profession already suspect because we deal with law, crimes, and peoples' livelihoods and lives. And the biggest problem is that sometimes when we walk into that lecture room or profession being a "good" or "ethical" person, we can fool ourselves into thinking we still are while making terrible mistakes that any five-year-old could point out.

The Utah Attorneys General, current and past, are in the midst of a scandal spinning out of control. The bottom line is this. They had some financial dealings with a man who was a convicted internet fraudster. Some of that was for campaign funds, some for nice holidays at posh and expensive resorts on the fraudster's dime (or hundreds of thousands, actually). Many of the receipts are publicly available (click here). (As a fed, I'd get in trouble for a mere $16 muffin! Actually, gift acceptance is limited at $25. The whole golf resort vacation was a bit more than that.)

Their principal defense is they are being tried in the press anxious to report the unfounded allegations of a convict who is currently incarcerated and may have more charges pending. The AG's most recent statement from that sleazy news source (sarcasm) KSL is:
"The fact certain members of the press continue to rely on a felon in prison who is facing new charges which could result in additional convictions and even more time in prison, to smear a newly elected A.G., is astounding to me and many others"
The former AG's statement in the same article:
"Marc Jenson's allegations of a shakedown (just like his repeated lies to media from his prison cell) are an absolute fabrication by a convicted serial fraudster."
OK, fine, the guy is a "felon in prison" and "convicted serial fraudster" and the press is being a little rough on the Attorneys General without due process in a formal proceeding. Granted. But if this guy is a crook, which was known back at the time the of the questionable conduct alleged and established, why in heck's name were they accepting campaign contributions and posh vacations from him?! It is astounding!

I'm sorry to spoil your fathers' day guys, but Swallow needs to resign. And both need to be fully investigated and charged and let due process run its course. There are already complaints to the Utah bar to have them disbarred. Once again, let the process work. But Swallow is not serving the people of Utah while this is going on. He must step down.

It's not good enough to be "good." You have to follow the law too. The acceptance, solicitation, and heaven forbid, the extortion of bribes are crimes. If it walks like a crime, and quacks like a crime, then it is a crime. Yes, we need some process here. But one way or another, Swallow needs to step down. The sooner the better.

Being "good" just isn't enough.

June 18, 2013
Just so you know I'm not making all this up, Holly on the Hill, a conservative Utah blogger, has prepared an excellent Timeline of Swallow's and Shurtleff's, err, "problems."

(h/t to CB at Utah Political Summary, a moderately conservative blogger friend. Or is it "conservatively moderate?")

1 comment:

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