Is Government Corruption Inevitable?

corruption-bribe[su_dropcap style=”flat”]C[/su_dropcap]ORRUPTION BY elected officials shows no sign of abating anytime in the near future. Corruption on the part of elected state and local government officials is not confined to any one region or type of elected or appointed official. It is a national problem as demonstrated by several recent examples.

In New York a significant number of elected legislators have been convicted. The taint of corruption has reached into the executive branch of state government. It has been announced that a close friend and former top aide to Governor Cuomo has been targeted by federal prosecutors alleging that he illegally diverted tens of thousands of dollars from state vendors for his personal use.  In New York City, the Mayor of New York City and a number of senior level NYPD police officers are currently under investigation. In Texas, almost every single elected official of a town has been arrested by the FBI on bribery charges. What is particularly troubling with municipal corruption is the fact that it has become systemic to various departments of local government. Every few years we see various municipal and state inspectors paraded out in handcuffs for exactly the same crimes as their predecessors. Currently, within the New York City Police Department we are witnessing an example of institutional corruption where two individuals were able to allegedly corrupt a number of assistant and deputy chiefs from diverse commands. Clearly their arrogance in believing they would not get caught overcame their fear of incarceration.

In sentencing former New York Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, Federal Judge Valerie Caproni stated:

I hope that the sentence I’m going to impose on you will make the next politician hesitate just long enough before taking a bribe or a kickback for his better angels to take over. Or if there are no better angels, and for some people there are not, then maybe his fear of living out his golden years in an orange jumpsuit will put him in the straight and narrow.[su_spacer]

Certainly powerful words, but it is doubtful that they will have any significant deterrent effect as long as politicians in New York State or any state’s elected officials for that matter, are permitted to conduct government business with a combination of poor transparency, weak financial disclosure requirements and the so-called “Three Men in a Room,” the concentration of political and legislative power in the hands of a select few.

[bctt tweet=”In order to effectively mitigate official corrupt we need to protect the future by learning from the past.” via=”no”]

Arrogance, ambiguity and temptation are difficult to overcome.

Corruption may never be eliminated from the public sector, but it certainly can be mitigated. As long as there exists a combination of the lack of political and legislative transparency in combination with an equal lack of interest in the development and enforcement of meaningful, anti-corruption and financial disclosure laws, the “Bad Angels” will win every time.


Michael D. Celock
Michael D. Celock
Michael's public-private sector experience spans both the advisory and operational spectrums of corporate governance and compliance, international affairs, intelligence, national security and law enforcement. Mr. Celock also has substantial experience regarding compliance with the FCPA and multi-jurisdictional government and corporate investigations. Mr. Celock regularly counsels corporate clients on strategic, operational and political risk, cross-border due diligence, corporate internal investigations, crisis mitigation, the FCPA and international crime and corruption issues as well as devising innovative solutions to complex problems arising from non-traditional corporate situations. Mr. Celock’s work is often of a cross-border and international dimension across a variety of industries and is designed to promptly and effectively identify, assess and manage rapidly changing risks facing the client. Mr. Celock’s intervention provides clients with the ability to respond strategically and in a timely manner to existing or emerging situations that threaten the business and reputation of the organization. Mr. Celock was appointed by President Clinton to the position of Special Advisor to the President for National Security Affairs. Mr. Celock has also served as a consultant to CIA’s Office of Transnational Issues. Responsibilities included providing unique functional expertise to assess existing and emerging threats to the national security interests of the United States and to identify, disrupt and prevent illicit financial transactions that threatened U.S. National Security.

SOLD OUT! JOIN OUR WAITING LIST! It's not a virtual event. It's not a conference. It's not a seminar, a meeting, or a symposium. It's not about attracting a big crowd. It's not about making a profit, but rather about making a real difference. LEARN MORE HERE



  1. Look at the history of Chicago and Detroit. Those are two cities that have had virtual non-stop arrests of elected and appointed officials. Why do we continue to put up with this nonsense?

    My first personal introduction to government graft was in 1965 when on loan to Gov. Volpe in Mass. It probably hasn’t improved there either. What I learned from that experience was that elected/appointed officials covered for each other to save face for the party. Without doing that they could lose party support for re-election and or continued bureaucratic employment. It seems our system fosters it in many ways.

  2. Great article Michael – precisely the sort of wake-up call we need, not just in the US, but throughout the western world. There are no easy fixes for the simple reason that our culture is broken as a result of the moral confusion developed over several centuries. Some of the current policy “debates” are scarcely believable – as the anonymous ancient proverb had it: “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad.”

  3. Michael: I suspect that corruption in government has existed since there was a first “Head Man” in cave man days. As President Truman once said, “If you want someone in Washington that you can trust, buy a dog”.

    I don’t think it will ever get better until two things happen. One: Our judicial system has to get tough with no white collar prisons, no suspended sentences, no early release, and no exceptions. Two: The public must stop shrugging it off and demand that their elected officials perform properly and openly.

salon 360°