We can stop, we will stop

Photo: Zero Tolerance Campaign/Photo by Burma Democratic Concern (BDC), via flickr

Madari Pendas/Contributing Writer

Florida is the most corrupt state in America.

A study conducted by Integrity Florida declares the Sunshine State to be the most unethical state in the country.

Approximately 1,762 public officials have been incarcerated for corruption since 1976 while an average of 71 persons are convicted every year in Florida on corruption charges.

Dan Krassner, an executive for the non-profit Integrity Florida, said “Florida has become the corruption capital of America.”

The Floridan government is so corrupt, even the Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken out ads to encourage whistle blowing. The ad says:

“Dishonest government officials aren’t just wasting your tax dollars. They’re betraying your trust. Report public corruption to the FBI.”

This year alone, three Miami mayors were arrested for corruption charges, all within a month of each other.

Michael A Pizzi, the mayor of Miami Lakes was arrested for accepting bribes and kick-back money. Manuel L Marono, mayor of Sweetwater, was arrested for accepting about $40 thousand in bribes and “conspiracy to commit extortion under color of official right.” Steven C. Bateman, mayor of Homestead, was arrested for accepting bribes from a healthcare company (Community Health of South Florida Inc) that wanted to build a clinic in Homestead. The company secretly agreed to pay Bateman $120 thousand to lobby for its interests.

Florida, as the Miami Herald puts it, has always had the “disgraceful distinction” of being a corrupt state. The corruption seems to arise from the state’s lax ethics laws and punishments. However, the biggest deterrent to ending government corruption is the government. Many bills in the past have been proposed, but they have all been killed by the state senate.

But is there a way to stop corruption? How can the people regulate the regulators?

We cannot assume that all politicians have perfect morals. The anti-Federalist warned “a general presumption that rulers will govern well is not a sufficient security.

To stop political corruption, a populace must be made aware of the improprieties of government institutions. The citizens must be watchdogs, scrutinizing the activities and behavior of public officials. More stern punishments must be enforced. For instance, Miami Beach mayor Alex Daoud was arrested on 41 counts of public corruption and only served 18 months in prison. And curtail the need for officials to fundraise, which opens many windows of temptation from companies and Machiavellian individuals.

opinion@fiusm.com 

Sources:

1. “Florida Is The Most Corrupt State In The Country, According To Integrity Florida Study,” via Huffington Post

2. “Legislators ignoring Florida’s rampant corruption cost you money,” via Orlando Sentinel 

3. “Florida’s disgraceful distinction: corruption,” Miami Herald

4. “Cato,” Constitution.org

5. “It’s Better to Focus on How Best to Stop Corruption,” New York Times

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