Two months ago, a book was published called The
, by two Star-Ledger
reporters, Ted Sherman and Josh
Margolin. It provides the history of an enormous federal sting
operation which led to the arrest of dozens of government officials,
most of them from local governments, on July 23, 2009 (see my blog post of that date
It's a real page-turner that shows how things work and how easy it can
be for anyone with money to make deals with elected officials, at least
in New Jersey.
The actual sting operation is not really a local government ethics
story, but rather a tale of an ethics environment that is so poor,
criminal conduct is just waiting for the money to start it going.
If nothing else, this book should make it very clear to local
government officials all over the country how valuable a good,
independent ethics program is. The books shows very clearly what can
happen when there is nothing to prevent an ethics environment from
getting this bad.