The liberal Mother Jones magazine has a new piece out asking, “Is Montana more corrupt than Miami?” It then points out that a number of the public corruption cases that have been prosecuted here in Montana can be tied to President Obama’s federal “stimulus” package.
I found that interesting because I heard one lawyer recently talk about these tribal leader corruption cases, and he says a lot of the blame can be directed at President Obama’s stimulus package (not to mention the individual leaders themselves, of course). The lawyer mentioned that the stimulus package threw so much money at tribes and other governments- that prosecuting tribal leaders has now been as easy as “shooting fish in a barrel” for the US Attorney’s office in Montana.
It seems this Mother Jones piece, and the quotes from Montana’s US Attorney seem to go along with that theory:
Now comes new data showing that Montana is leading the country in public corruption prosecutions, suggesting that the state’s reputation for graft (dating back to the days of the Copper Kings) hasn’t changed much. Clocking in with 18 active cases, the federal judicial district of Montana has had more public corruption prosecutions in 2014 than those in south Florida, southern California, and even New Jersey, according to data crunched by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
A recent AP investigation concluded that, nationally, tribal governments are five times more likely to have “material weaknesses” in their administration that make corruption possible, and reporters for years have been sounding alarms that federal prosecutors have largely turned a blind eye to these problems. Montana decided to change that trend, at a time when millions in additional federal dollars have flowed into tribal governments thanks to the federal stimulus package enacted after the financial collapse in 2008.
Overall, though, Montana itself probably isn’t more scandal-plagued than New Jersey or Miami. Montana’s US Attorney has just taken a harder line on prosecuting the abuses on its reservations, and all those cases have added up to boost Montana to the top of the rankings in terms of public corruption prosecutions.