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Monday, February 1, 2016

The Trouble with the Revolving Door

Elizabeth Warren released her report:

Rigged Justice: How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy."

In it she notes:

"The report, the first in an annual series on enforcement, highlights 20 of the most egregious civil and criminal cases during the past year in which federal settlements failed to require meaningful accountability to deter future wrongdoing and to protect taxpayers and families."

And she observes:

"Much of the public and media attention on Washington focuses on enacting laws. And strong laws are important - prosecutors must have the statutory tools they need to hold corporate criminals accountable," the report states. "But putting a law on the books is only the first step. The second, and equally important, step is enforcing that law. A law that is not enforced - or weakly enforced - may as well not even be a law at all."

And driving much of this lackluster enforcement is a culture of insiderism, where law enforcement folks are too close to the people they should be watching. And where legislators, advisors and prosecutors know that they can look forward to a career representing the companies they are supposed to regulate.

"When government regulators and prosecutors fail to pursue big corporations or their executives who violate the law, or when the government lets them off with a slap on the wrist, corporate criminals have free rein to operate outside the law. They can game the system, cheat families, rip off taxpayers, and even take actions that result in the death of innocent victims-all with no serious consequences."

And often with the help of current or past officials who once swore an oath to uphold the law.

"The 20 cases highlighted in Rigged Justice illustrate problematic enforcement patterns by federal agencies across a range of areas, from financial crimes to student loan rip-offs to auto safety violations to environmental disasters. In many of the cases described in the report, corporations reached settlements with the federal government that required no admission of guilt and held no individual executives accountable."

Further reading:

http://www.warren.senate.gov/files/documents/Rigged_Justice_2016.pdf

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