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Are elected officials immune from prosecution?

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posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 05:17 PM
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I'm confused. I read article after article about elected officials who made deals to get money diverted to spouses' businesses and to campaign contributors. We know about the people who covered up the problems in the banking industry that led to the recent meltdown. Some of these people have gotten big payoffs in terms of political appointments for their dubious behavior. The bailout is nothing but a giant trough but we the people aren't allowed to know who got the money or what they are doing with it. There are blatant conflicts of interest in violation of their own ethics rules. Given how difficult it has been to get people through confirmation hearings because of tax problems, I wonder if any of our sitting legislators could pass even a cursory audit. Not one of these people has been held accountable for anything. They continue on with bigger and more blatant robbing of the public treasury. My question is: are they all really immune from prosecution while in office? Do any laws at all apply to them? If so, which ones? I know there are many very knowledgeable people on ATS. I seek your guidance.

I suppose you could say that just because we have documented evidence of fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, and conspiracy to cover up fraud that that isn't necessarily a crime, even if it would be a crime for anybody else. Who would bring charges in this sort of situation? Who decided that it's not a crime because they are in government? Why don't they do tax audits on every member of congress from every state so we can see how they handle their own tax burden?

BTW, I am NOT talking about the current president or the past president. I'm not talking about one party or the other but BOTH. I'm talking about members of congress who now regard the US treasury as their personal petty cash.




posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 05:46 PM
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reply to post by earlywatcher
 


i get what you're saying, and you bring up some very good questions ... i think that no 'lesser' politician really wants to prosecute because they could be blacklisted to not get a political job again ... and i don't think that most people really care about it because either 1, they don't know about it, or 2 they don't think it directly affects them ... just my opinion, about all i can think of right now ...



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 05:49 PM
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No leaders, whether they be elected by the people or appointed by elected officials, or ordained by God, should ever be above the law. Ideally, leaders should be exemplars of the law that they serve. At worst, they should be held accountable just as any other citizen when they do not uphold those laws.

Generally, Presidential Pardons aside, our leaders are held accountable when they willfully, and even inadvertently break those laws.

Congressmen are always getting slapped with DUIIs just like everybody else when they drink and drive.

As far as financially, it is generally the same. Illinois Governor Blagojevich is just one primary example of this.

The GAO (General Accountabilty Office) oversees the investigative arm of Congress and is the congressional watchdog. GAO supports the Congress in meeting its constitutional responsibilities and helps improve the performance and accountability of the federal government for the benefit of the American people. The Red Book (Principles of Federal Appropriations Law) is the regulations by which the GAO holds Congress accountable. This even extends to Government Contract Bids.

However, there are issues that are currently unregulated. Although regulation over Gifts have become more strict, for the most part they are still deemed unethical rather than illegal. Although numerous times members of Congress have brought up the issue of Lobbyists and Special Interests, there still remains no legislation to restrict the activities of such.

Likewise, the FBI spends an awful lot of its resources investigating Political Corruption. Federal Bribery is a serious crime, and the FBI has had a record number of investigations in this area in the past few years.

The practice of Political Appointments, however, is currently a legal "Grey" area. Much like Hiring Laws, you can't just appoint someone not qualified for the job, just because of Nepotism or Political Favors. They do have to qualified for the appointment...but how does one prove that you chose one appointee over another who was more qualified because they did you a favor? You really can't. Ultimately, Political Appointments need to be more stringently monitored and regulated as well, but by whom? Most appointments made by either the President or by Congress are overseen by a Congressional Committee, but still, it's not enough (what if those Committee members are on the take too? Obama appointing 5 RIAA lawyers to the Justice Department and no one on the Congressional Committee questionning it is a perfect example. I'm willing to bet the RIAA was a major contributer to every single one of those Committee member's campaigns).

No one should ever be above the Law, just as no one should ever be denied the Law. The law is for all. When the law no longer pertains to all equally and without bias, then democracy gives way to corruption and tyranny. The hard part is when the Law Makers themselves become corrupt, because they lack the incentive to push for stricter oversight. We must always remember that in a democratic society we empower the Law Makers with our votes. If a Law Maker becomes so corrupt that they no longer serve the people's interests that they represent, then we can vote in someone who will.

Although I agree that Political Corruption seems more rampant than it has been for some time, there are checks in place and penalties when it happens. But just as people speed regardless of the penalties knowing that the odds are more likely someone else will be pulled over for speeding instead of them, Politicians are prone to the same flawed way of thinking. For every corrupt Politician the GAO rebukes, or the FBI catches, you can be certain that there are a dozen more who were doing the exact same thing.



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 06:14 PM
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There is a difference between theory and practice.

No one, not even the President, is above the law. That is the principle of equality embedded in the Constitution.

However, in order for any citizen to be subject to the law after having committed a crime, there has to be somebody willing to charge you with a crime. Even having that strike against you, the case must be prosecuted. I believe, and I hope any available attorney versed in Constitutional law might correct me if I am mistaken, but it is unlikely that such a trial involving a high-ranking elected would include a jury.

I think what happens is those in politically appointed positions will not risk their careers on prosecuting someone who might turn out to be a protected member of the political party (and yes, I refuse to believe there are two, it's ONE party - every time a viable second party surfaces, they call it 'another third party,' marginalizing it).

So, the simple answer is; in theory no one is above the law, in practice, the law must be 'engaged' if it is to matter.

[edit on 21-4-2009 by Maxmars]



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 07:32 PM
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okay, so that explains why we are in the situation we are in. those who would charge are in debt to those they would charge, so don't dare. a little bit like having them grant themselves automatic wage raises every year. who would ever dare stop them?

has any member of congress ever been charged with fraud or conspiracy to cover up fraud or any of those sorts of things (not traffic violations) and prosecuted? I'm talking about the constant lining of their pockets with public money.

Every thread I read and/or comment on about corruption, people just say it's no surprise, everybody does it. It seems that now they don't even have to hide it and we won't or can't do a thing about it. Voting is supposed to be our recourse but most seem to once they get there. Possibly strict term limits for everybody would help because at least the deals would get disrupted once in awhile.



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 07:50 PM
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Originally posted by earlywatcher
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has any member of congress ever been charged with fraud or conspiracy to cover up fraud or any of those sorts of things (not traffic violations) and prosecuted? I'm talking about the constant lining of their pockets with public money.

Every thread I read and/or comment on about corruption, people just say it's no surprise, everybody does it. It seems that now they don't even have to hide it and we won't or can't do a thing about it. Voting is supposed to be our recourse but most seem to once they get there. Possibly strict term limits for everybody would help because at least the deals would get disrupted once in awhile.


It certainly has happened. In some cases justice prevailed. In many it did not. The distinction is somewhat subjective, I'm afraid. Political partisanship is a cruel hoax.

The subject of term limits is valid, assuming the people in place are the same who will be there in the future. Political 'careerists' are in fact, actors. We must face this reality or we will continue to be ruled by the Madison Avenue and Hollywood. Our 'press/media' are an even crueler hoax.

In the end, only a change in the 'subculture' that occupies our Federal Government, can actually effect change. To do this the political parties must either be abolished entirely or reestablished. But essentially, what is needed is a different party system, or party. The one's we have now are utterly corrupted by glamor, celebrity, and a high degree of self-interest.



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 07:51 PM
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Obviously not, especially when governors embezzle money from the state. It's happened a bunch of times, and they definitely are persecuted for their crimes.

It also did happen with the drunk driving, using prostitutes... what else...



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 08:34 PM
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reply to post by Maxmars
 


I love the idea of no political parties. Candidates run on own issues and are elected on that basis. I agree that the careerists are actors. and it's now all about marketing and focus groups about how to be most popular to most people. Though the winning party certainly abandoned every shred of their platform upon being elected this time. It boggles the mind. I almost expect to see parts of our country sold off on ebay.



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 08:51 PM
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Originally posted by earlywatcher
reply to post by Maxmars
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I almost expect to see parts of our country sold off on ebay.


Don't give them any ideas!



posted on Apr, 21 2009 @ 10:16 PM
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Ask Kwame Kilpatrick if elected officials are immune from prosecution.

Counterargument: Richard Nixon.

I do think that there's an unwritten argument that we don't prosecute a President. I'm just not sure at what point in public service we stop granting them immunity and start making an example out of them.



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