Embarrassment over romantic relationships is no excuse to seal public records of investigation

The feds protect their own.

The key word in the Las Vegas newspaper story about the feds refusing to open sealed records in the homeowners association investigation is: “embarrass.” The feds are refusing to release records of their investigation into whether investigators leaked information about the investigation to those being investigated because it would be embarrassing, and that is because they say they found not corruption, but rather just romantic entanglements.

Here is the pertinent passage:

Thomas Hall, one of the Justice Department prosecutors in the HOA case, told a federal judge this week that the leak investigation delved into personal and romantic relationships of public officials who have not been charged criminally or disciplined administratively.

Hall didn’t didn’t provide details, but he has previously indicated in court documents that members of the U.S. attorney’s office were among those investigated. The office removed itself from the HOA investigation after the leak allegations surfaced in late 2010, prompting the Justice Department’s Fraud Section in Washington to step in.

Hall, who is with the Fraud Section, said that since the leak allegations weren’t substantiated, making public the names of the officials would embarrass them.

Romantic relationships of public officials who have not been charged?

Leon Benzer, convicted in HOA scheme (R-J photo)

But how is the public to trust whether they should have been charged and are simply being protected by their cronies on the public payroll?

If the people being embarrassed were ordinary citizens there would a huge document dump and let the chips fall where they may, embarrassment be damned.

It is those romantic relationships that can lead to official misconduct, such as what happened with Gen. David Petraeus, who reportedly gave classified documents to his biographer/lover.

A failure to fully disclose the evidence is unfair to the accused, who cannot fully confront the evidence and the witnesses, and to the public who expect justice to be served.

Defense attorneys were not given copies of the sealed records but were allowed to take notes while reading them and then had to destroy those notes when the case ended, the newspaper account says. The public, including the victims of the fraud, and the media were not given a chance to challenge the sealing.

Sixth Amendment:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

This is serious stuff. The ringleader was just sentenced to more than 15 years in prison. There have been three suicides and a drug overdose. Millions of dollars are involved.

In 2011, TV reporter George Knapp wrote a piece for the local public radio website on this case that was basically an apologia for U.S. Attorney Dan Bogden, who had been canned by Bush but reappointed by Obama at the behest of Harry Reid.

It contained this juicy tidbit:

“Every time we turn over a rock, three more bugs crawl out,” one lawman told me almost two years ago. Big bugs. Among the names that have surfaced — but have not been made public — is that of an elected official who hoped to be living in the governor’s mansion at this moment.

Now, who could that possibly be? There are at least two possibilities. A withholding of facts simply fuels the rumor mill.

6 comments on “Embarrassment over romantic relationships is no excuse to seal public records of investigation

  1. Steve says:

    The rug they sweep it under is getting a lump in the middle.

  2. Nyp says:

    Today’s Second Amendment moment – 8 people shot to death in Texas

  3. Steve says:

    Yeah, it’s all about guns with you guys;

    http :// abcnews.go. com/US/wireStory/medical-examiner-confirms-oklahoma-family-stabbed-death-32715314

    Next step, rounding off all the sharp edges….no more 90 degree corners on anything.

  4. Rincon says:

    Say some guy is having an affair and the police find out about it during an investigation, but also find that said guy has nothing to do with any crime. Do they routinely release this information to the press? If so, I’ll be damned if I’m going to ever volunteer information to the cops. Although I have little to be embarrassed about, I really don’t want details of my private life to be given to the press. Just call me an uncooperative witness.

  5. nyp says:

    today’s fun fact: government employment has shrunk by more than 500,000 jobs since 2010.


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