Violating the Public Trust

Member Group : Lincoln Institute

Actions by government leaders have a profound effect on our nation.   Irresponsible actions have a devastating effect.

That elected officials are passing on tough decisions to future generations is irresponsible and embarrassing.

When there was fraud, deceit, and irresponsible behavior in the corporate world congress passed the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) bill which was intended to improve governance and reduce the likelihood of fraud.  It made actions by CFO’s, CEO’s and board members subject to criminal prosecution.

It is sad, but not surprising, that government has never held itself responsible to the public for its actions.

Congress points out the foibles of business yet is unwilling to hold itself to the same standard.

The continuous nonsense of the inaction on fixing Obama Care and, passing it so irresponsibly in the first place, should be a reminder to us of the damage that can be done by irresponsible actions by our elected leaders.

Nancy Pelosi’s now infamous line “But we have to pass the (health care) bill so we can find out what’s in it…” is perhaps the most recent example of government excess, abuse, and irresponsible behavior in a long line of disastrous conduct for which, we, the citizens are forced to endure.

In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers were quite clear:

“The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

In that same document, the Founding Fathers enumerated all the transgressions of the King of England that precipitated the need for a Declaration of Independence to begin with.

We must never reach that point again where dissolution of our government becomes necessary, but it is time that we, the people, hold our elected leaders to a standard that they expect us to adhere to.  A public responsibility and trust act is essential to curb the abuses inflicted on us by the nonsense Pelosi has inflicted on the American people for the past three years.

The Public Responsibility and Trust Act (PRATA) would require that elected officials in the Executive Branch, the House and Senate, as well as political appointees, be held to same standard of financial and ethical responsibility that congress demands of leaders in business.

The PRATA would require, in case of conviction or proven liability, any improper or fraudulent actions by elected officials be dealt with personally and paid for from their personal assets.  Criminal sanctions may also apply in certain cases.  Pensions of convicted persons would be forfeited.

Improper actions would include

  • Failing to account for public funds.  It would be a violation of the public trust when leaders are unable to account for appropriated funds or misuse those funds so appropriated.  The federal government must be audited annually and release financial statements to ensure complete transparency.
  • Misusing the office to which elected to launch politically motivated attacks against an opponent or misuse of the Office of Inspector General, the Attorney General, FBI, CIA, DIA, State Department or any intelligence asset to negate an election.
  • Using elected office to engage in nepotism in employment, education opportunities, or government grants for related parties to the elected official.
  • Using public funds for any financial supporter to a political campaign without a full ethics disclosure and review,
  • Failing to implement a system of internal controls over financial reporting. Should fraud be identified and the investigation by an independent group determine that there was a material weakness over internal controls then the official involved would be held to a higher standard of responsibility and accountability.
  • Waste, fraud and abuse of government funds. A cost-benefit analysis by the Congressional Budget Office would be required of all major spending programs.

If you find this demand harsh, it is merely the same certification required of corporate executives and physicians in this nation today.

If prison is appropriate for white collar criminals in business, it is a proper destination for those who abuse the public trust – those elected to serve!

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to hold it’s leaders accountable….This should be our rallying cry to preserve our Republic.

Col. Frank Ryan, CPA, USMCR (Ret) represents the 101st District in the PA House of Representatives.  He is a retired Marine Reserve Colonel and served in Iraq and briefly in Afghanistan and specializes in corporate restructuring.  He has served on numerous boards of publicly traded and non-profit organizations.  He can be reached at [email protected]