I don’t know about previous years, but 2007 certainly seemed to be a banner year for good and bad, (mostly bad) ethics-related stories. So many stories, so hard to choose… only ten!
January 1, 2007 started when Eliot Spitzer, New York’s ethical sheriff, is sworn in as the 54th governor of that state. A key campaign pledge: ethics reform. “If there is a result of this momentary concentration on ethical dilemmas and failures, an opportunity to galvanize support for reform, we better seize it.” Noble, Spitz, but watch your back!
In February, the Army announced that it will withhold more than $19 million in payments to contractor Halliburton stemming from waste and fraud. Great, now how about looking into those no-bid contracts?
Pete Rose finally admits to betting on Cincinnati Reds games, not occasionally, EVERY night! Way to go, Pete. This ought to settle all those fence-sitters about your Hall of Fame chances.
Okay, so in no particular order but my own, here are the Top Ten Ethical Lapses of 2007:
10 – Republican Larry Craig arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover officer in an airport bathroom. Shame on Craig for adding yet another sex-scandal to Congress’ scorecard, but shame on the media for beating us over the head with it.
9 – Michael Vick gets twenty-three months for dogfighting. Vick stuck to his denials right up to the polygraph. Mike, the dogfighting took place on your ownproperty. Wake up and smell the Kal-Kan!
8 – Patriot’s Coach Bill Belichick fined $500,000 for videotaping signals by New York Jets’ coaches. Right from Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis’ playbook: “Just win, baby!” Where are you going to sell all those “19-0” T-shirts now, Bill?
7 – Bonds indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice over steroid use. Finally caught in his own web, Bonds goes from homerun hero to goat.
6 – Lewis Libby convicted of lying and obstruction of justice for leaking CIA agent to media/ Tied with: Bush’s clemency of “Scooter’s” prison time. You can’t pretend to be surprised. But G.W., how about Vick and Bonds?
5 – CIA destroys torture tapes of detainees/ Tied with: New England Patriots spy tapes destroyed. Is there some nexus here? Did the CIA get the idea from the Patriots or did the Pats steal their signals, too? In the end, both lose… credibility and respect.
4 – Don Imus fired from MSNBC and CBS radio over racist remarks about Rutgers women’s basketball team.The I-Man finally gets his comeuppance. One good thing: he makes a personal apology to team and promises to change. We’ll see.
3 – A.G. Alberto Gonzalez steps down in wake of firings of U.S. attorneys based on politics. Alberto, we hardly got to know ye. But isn’t this just business as usual?
2 – Hannah Montana Essay Winner a Fake. Opening line from 6-year-old’s essay: “My daddy died this year in Iraq.” Mother admits, “We did whatever we could do to win.” Memo to Pats Belichick: She’s got the right stuff. Any openings?
1 – DC Judge Presses $54 Million Suit for Lost Pants. No joke. Washington DC administrative judge Roy L. Pearson argued in court that Custom Cleaners not only lost his pants, but violated its own pledge when it posted a sign stating, “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” According to Pearson, the sign deceives customers who are unhappy with service.
How did he arrive at $54 million? According to Reuters, “Pearson counted 12 separate violations of a consumer-protection law over 1,200 days, multiplied by the three defendants. [There were others involved?] At $1,500 per day, that is $65 million. He [Pearson] also seeks $15,000 to rent a car to take his clothes to another cleaner for the next 10 years…” Pearson later reduced his claim to $54 million.
It’s stories like these that make me yearn for the good old days of Martha Stewart.