Homeland Stupidity

Report Public Corruption

Many of you reading this are government employees yourselves. Are you aware of wrongdoing within your agency or department? Have you tried to report it through established channels such as an inspector general and gotten absolutely nowhere — or gotten fired, or worse? Now a new option is open to you.

The Raleigh, N.C.-based Foundation for Ethics in Public Service, which officially opened in May, says it will investigate tips sent to it, anonymously or not, and provide reports of government corruption at federal, state and local levels, to appropriate investigative journalists.

According to its executive director, former North Carolina state auditor Les Merritt, the foundation will also provide training and other education programs to government and the general public.

The foundation’s top investigator is Frank Perry, a 22-year FBI veteran who has worked on some of the agency’s most high level and sensitive public corruption, internal affairs and national security cases.

The Associated Press reported Monday that the Report Public Corruption web site has received over 20 tips since it launched June 13. Since that report, tips have begun coming in from across the country, according to a blog posting at the Project on Government Oversight, which focuses on the federal government.

“We’re going to be heavier on the investigative side and less on the reporting side,” Merritt said in an interview. “We don’t want to be a think tank. We want to be a ‘to-do’ tank.”

Merritt, who served one four-year term as auditor before losing to Democrat Beth Wood last November, said the foundation boards include Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters. Perry used to be the agent in charge of the FBI’s Raleigh office before working for the State Ethics Commission and later as Merritt’s top investigator at the auditor’s office.

While the group has received donations from the conservative-leaning John William Pope Foundation in Raleigh among others, Merritt said it’s looking actively for donations from both sides of the political spectrum.

“We’re going to be nonpartisan and nonbiased,” said Merritt. “We hope to be balanced with our fundraising.” — Associated Press

Indeed. Putting a stop to government corruption is something we should all be able to agree on, regardless of our political leanings.

I for one welcome Report Public Corruption. This is an idea that was suggested to me by a Free State Project participant here in New Hampshire well over a year ago but has been on the back burner ever since.

Looking through the roster of people behind the organization, I can see that it’s put together much better than I would have been able to do. They’ve also paid attention to the little details, such as not using an 800 number for their tip line, showing me that they’re serious about making this work. (You cannot block the phone number you are calling from when you dial a toll-free number.)

I’m also happy whenever I get the chance to report good news, and having more people working at keeping the government honest is always good news.