Honest Services Fraud Prosecutions: Do Race and Party Affiliation Make a Difference?

The US Department of Justice is responsible for the prosecution of “honest services” fraud when such actions involve public officials. The federal government convicted Kwame Kilpatrick, a former mayor and state legislator from Detroit. It has indicted Ray Nagin, the former mayor of New Orleans, and just recently some public officials in the Bronx.

The government is right to prosecute these public officials for their actions. But these high profile prosecutions raise an interesting question about honest services fraud prosecutions. Do race and party affiliation matter? These men are Black and for the most part Democrats.

Whereas in the Dirty Downs deal, one of the most blatant instances of honest services fraud committed by public officials and their associates ever, none of those involved are Black or Democrats.

Susana Martinez is Latina, while Pat Rogers, Darren White, Jay McCleskey, Dan Mourning, Keith Gardner, Ryan Cangiolosi, Scott Darnell, Mickey Barnett, Paul Blanchard, John S. Turner, Jr., Traci Wolf, William C. Windham, and the rest are all Anglo and for the most part Republican. And not just any Republicans, but White, Barnett, Rogers and McCleskey, were such influential Republicans that they helped get the US Attorney for New Mexico, David Iglesias, fired. 

White and Barnett even boasted to the Bush White House political director about their access to some members of the New Mexico US Attorney’s office and the FBI, which they did to successfully blocked Iglesias’s second in command from being appointed the US Attorney following Iglesias.

Honest services fraud cases are typically left to the local federal agencies to prosecute. Shouldn’t all of those who corrupt the process, regardless of race or party affiliation, be prosecuted when they so blatantly break the law? One would guess that US Attorney General Holder would agree that justice should apply to all corrupt public officials and their associates not just those who are Black or Democrat.

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