Federal anti-corruption cases are on the upswing across the nation, as the FBI devotes more resources to pursuing those who abuse the public trust, says the Christian Science Monitor. Over the past two years, FBI investigations have led to corruption convictions for more than 1,000 government employees. Corruption indictments are up 40 percent. “I think it’s great,” says Melanie Sloan, former federal prosecutor who now heads Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. “It’s overdue.” The FBI’s latest strategic plan lists “combat public corruption on all levels” as the highest-ranking criminal priority, ahead of such things as fighting transnational crime organizations and white-collar crime. Over the past 18 months, 200 agents have been added to the 400 already working on public corruption cases.
The stakes are not always high. A recent election fraud case in West Virginia centered around the trading of votes for gravel, which the voters in question needed for their roads. The FBI and federal prosecutors have broken some big corruption cases outside of Washington. Former Illinois Gov. George Ryan, for instance, was convicted of a pattern of fraud while in office. Lobbyist Jack Abramoff admitted to conspiring to bribe public officials, plus mail fraud and tax evasion, as a result of one of the widest-ranging such probes in recent history. So far, the Abramoff investigation has ensnared three former congressional aides.