The FBI has more than 2,000 public corruption cases under way, including the Jack Abramoff lobbying inquiry, the conviction of former Il. Gov. George Ryan, and various probes after the guilty plea by Randy Cunningham, a former Republican House member from San Diego, says the New York Times. The long list suggests that wrongdoing by public officials at all levels is deeply rooted and widespread. Bureau officials believe that the investment in corruption cases is easily worth the cost. In 2004 and 2005, more than 1,060 government employees were convicted of corrupt activities, including 177 federal officials, 158 state officials, 360 local officials, and 365 police officers. Convictions rose 27 percent from 2004 to 2005.
The bureau’s corruption effort has forced it to shift agents from other programs. Violent street gangs, organized crime, and large-scale narcotics trafficking organizations remain high priorities. Chris Swecker, the top criminal enforcement official, acknowledged that the FBI had reduced its investigation of single-victim fraud cases; smaller, localized drug rings; and nonviolent bank robberies. “We’ve had to make some very difficult choices,” Swecker said. Director Robert Mueller speaks about the anticorruption effort today in San Diego, which Cunningham represented in Congress before he quit and admitted accepting more than $2 million for steering military contracts to friends and supporters.