NovoMetro

Education in Oakland

In Good Company

Posted by novometro on September 22, 2006

Ignacio De La Fuente can assume that his office is bugged and his phones are tapped. It’s cold comfort for the Oakland City Councilman, who now finds himself the subject of a Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into public corruption at City Hall, but he is not alone. In the last couple of years, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has made public corruption a top priority across the country. The FBI is buying ads in local newspapers asking for public corruption tips. The Christian Science Monitor reported in May that FBI officers assigned to the public corruption beat grew from 400 to 600 since 2004. According to FBI chief Robert Mueller, the effort has paid off.

In May, Mr. Mueller told an audience at the San Diego City Club that public corruption indictments are up 40 percent and more than 1,000 government employees have been convicted for involvement in corrupt activities since 2004. Oakland’s own probe is just one of 2,200 pending public corruption cases nationwide.

Ever mindful that the public cares more about terrorism than graft, Mr. Mueller connected the dots: “ If public officials violate their oath to uphold the law by smuggling drugs or humans, where would they draw the line? For the right price, would they assist terrorists to smuggle a bomb into the country, or help terrorist operatives cross the border?”

Of course, Oakland City Hall staffers have grown accustomed to FBI snooping. The feds have been asking about State Senator Don Perata’s influence on the City Council for more than a year.

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