Senator Leahy(Cont'd) The War Profiteering Prevention Act of 2007Sat Jan 6, 2007 18:26
Fluor Corp., paid $8.5 million to the Defense Department in 2001 to settle charges it improperly billed the government for work benefiting its commercial clients, according to published reports. Fluor and AMEC created a joint venture that has $1.7 billion in contracts to rebuild Iraq's electricity, water, sewer and trash removal infrastructure.
Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., paid a $969,000 fine in 2002 for environmental damage in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, according to published reports. Bechtel awarded the company a subcontract to clear the Iraqi port of Umm Qasr.
Northrop Grumman Corp., whose Vinnell Corp. subsidiary was awarded a $48 million contract to train the new Iraqi Army last year, according to published reports. Northrop Grumman has been penalized $191.7 million in the past four years, including $750,000 paid to the Pentagon in 2000 in a case involving allegations of providing faulty replacement parts for the JSTARS airborne surveillance system.
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Statement of Senator Patrick Leahy
On Introduction of the Effective Corruption Prosecutions Act of 2007
January 4, 2007
I am pleased to join with Senator Pryor today to introduce the Effective Corruption Prosecutions Act of 2007, a bill to strengthen the tools available to federal prosecutors in combating public corruption. This bill gives investigators and prosecutors the statutory tools and the resources they need to ensure that serious and insidious public corruption is detected and punished.
In November, voters sent a strong message that they were tired of the culture of corruption. From war profiteers and corrupt officials in Iraq to convicted Administration officials to influence-peddling lobbyists and, regrettably, even members of Congress, too many supposed public servants were serving their own interests, rather than the public interest. The American people staged an intervention and made it clear that they would not stand for it any longer. They expect the Congress to take action. We need to restore the people’s trust by acting to clean up the people’s government.
The Senate’s new leadership is introducing important lobbying reform and ethics legislation. Similar legislation passed the Senate last year, but stalled in the House. This is a vital first step.
But the most serious corruption cannot be prevented only by changing our own rules. Bribery and extortion are committed by people bent on getting around the rules and banking that they won’t get caught. These offenses can be difficult to detect and even harder to prove. Because they attack the core of our democracy, these offenses must be found out and punished. Congress must send a signal that it will not tolerate this corruption by providing better tools for federal prosecutors to combat it. This bill will do exactly that.
First, the bill extends the statute of limitations for the most serious public corruption offenses. Specifically, it extends the statute of limitations from five years to eight years for bribery, deprivation of honest services, and extortion by a public official. This is an important step because public corruption cases are among the most difficult and time-consuming cases to investigate and prosecute. They often require use of informants and electronic monitoring, as well as review of extensive financial and electronic records, techniques which take time to develop and implement.
Bank fraud, arson, and passport fraud, among other offenses, all have 10-year statutes of limitations. Since public corruption offenses are so important to our democracy and these cases are so difficult to investigate and prove, a more modest extended statute of limitations for these offenses is a reasonable step to help our corruption investigators and prosecutors do their jobs. Corrupt officials should not be able to get away with their ill-gotten gains just by winning the waiting game.
This bill also facilitates the investigation and prosecution of an important offense known as federal program bribery. (Title 18, United States Code, section 666). Federal program bribery is the key federal statute for prosecuting bribery involving state and local officials, as well as officials of the many organizations that receive substantial federal money. This bill would allow agents and prosecutors investigating this important offense to request authority to conduct wiretaps and to use federal program bribery as a basis for a racketeering charge.
Wiretaps, when appropriately requested and authorized, are an important method for agents and prosecutors to gain evidence of corrupt activities, which can otherwise be next to impossible to prove without an informant. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) statute is also an important tool which helps prosecutors target organized crime and corruption.
Agents and prosecutors may currently request authority to conduct wiretaps to investigate many serious offenses, including bribery of federal officials and even sports bribery, and may predicate RICO charges on these offenses, as well. It is only reasonable that these important tools also be available for investigating the similar and equally important offense of federal program bribery.
Lastly, this bill authorizes $25 million in additional federal funds over each of the next four years to give federal investigators and prosecutors needed resources to go after public corruption. Last month, FBI Director Mueller in written testimony to the Judiciary Committee called public corruption the FBI’s top criminal investigative priority. However, a September 2005 Report by Department of Justice Inspector General Fine found that, from 2000 to 2004, there was an overall reduction in public corruption matters handled by the FBI. The report also found declines in resources dedicated to investigating public corruption, in corruption cases initiated, and in cases forwarded to US Attorney’s Offices.
I am heartened by Director Mueller’s assertion that there has recently been an increase in the number of agents investigating public corruption cases and the number of cases investigated, but I remain concerned by the Inspector General’s findings. I am concerned because the FBI in recent years has diverted resources away from criminal law priorities, including corruption, into counterterrorism. The FBI may need to divert further resources to cover the growing costs of Sentinel, their data management system. The Department of Justice has similarly diverted resources, particularly from United States Attorney’s Offices.
Additional funding is important to compensate for this diversion of resources and to ensure that corruption offenses are aggressively pursued. My bill will give the FBI, the United States Attorney’s Offices, and the Public Integrity Section of the Department of Justice new resources to hire additional public corruption investigators and prosecutors. They can finally have the manpower they need to track down and make these difficult cases, and root out the corruption.
If we are serious about addressing the egregious misconduct that we have recently witnessed, Congress must enact meaningful legislation to give investigators and prosecutors the resources they need to enforce our public corruption laws. I strongly urge Congress to do more to restore the public's trust in their government.
I ask that a copy of the bill be printed in the Record.
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Effective Corruption Prosecutions Act of 2007
Provides federal investigators and prosecutors the statutory tools and the resources needed to ensure that serious and insidious public corruption is detected and punished.
Extends the statute of limitations for the most serious public corruption offenses, including bribery, deprivation of honest services, and extortion by a public official, from five years to eight years.
Facilitates the investigation and prosecution of a key federal statute used for prosecuting bribery involving state and local officials, as well as officials of the many organizations that receive substantial federal money
Authorizes $25 million over each of the next four years to give federal investigators and prosecutors needed resources to go after public corruption.
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