Going Down, Limelight in Tow

Former Governor of Illinois Rod Blagojevich outside his Chicago home one day before reporting to federal prison. / REUTERS

While some may slink off to prison in the dead of night, that’s not the way that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich decided to go.  In the sharp glare of the spotlight that Blagojevich so loved, he headed off to a Colorado prison from his Chicago home after hugging well-wishers and reading off a list of his accomplishments.

In doing so, Blagojevich follows in the tradition of Illinois politicians.  He is the fourth Illinois governor in recent memory to head off to prison. He will begin serving a 14-year sentence on corruption charges at the Federal Correctional Institution, outside Denver.

Blagojevich was convicted of profiting from his office, in part by seeking to trade or sell the U.S. Senate seat formerly held by President Barack Obama. After leaving office in 2009, Blagojevich had a fleeting, and failed, career on reality television.

Never one to avoid the spotlight – to the contrary – Blagojevich expressed optimism as he teared up during his lengthy farewell.  The 55-year-old Blagojevich will be 67 when he becomes eligible to leave prison.  At home, he leaves his wife and two children, the youngest of which is eight years old.

Sweep to Cameras in tow, Blagojevich surrenders to prison

In this case, it may have been the government who was more corrupt than the man on trial.

U.S. Republican Sen. Ted Stevens of Alaska sits in a van outside the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Washington in 2008. /REUTERS

A 525-page report laid out, in blistering detail, prosecutorial misconduct in the botched 2008 corruption case against the former Alaska Ted Stevens, who died in a 2010 plane crash. The report shows how prosecutors failed to live up to their obligation to turn over material to Stevens’ lawyers that could have cleared his name.

Following his conviction, a federal judge threw out the case. But this came after Stevens, a long-time member of the Senate, has lost his 2008 re-election bid.  He had been charged with lying on his Senate financial disclosure statement over gifts and services to renovate his Alaska home.

The report was ordered by Federal Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who had overseen the case. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had asked that he set aside the conviction on learning that evidence had been withheld by the prosecutors.

The Justice Department is concluding its own investigation, which will recommend disciplinary action against some of the prosecutors involved.

Sweep to Evidence concealed in Stevens corruption case

And now some good news on the corruption front.

The Ethisphere Institute, a think tank that promotes good business practices, has just released its sixth annual selection of the World’s Most Ethical Companies.  A total of 145 made the list representing three dozen industries, with 43 of the winners located outside of the U.S.

According to the Institute’s press release, some familiar corporate names made the cut, among them Cisco, Ford and Timberland.  Others were not exactly household names: Ethical Fruit Company of the U.K.  and Tokio Marine Holding of Japan.

To make the list, companies had to exceed legal minimums for ethical complaints, promote ideas that benefited the public good and prod their competitors to do the same.

A total of 23 companies have made the list all six years. Among them are:  Aflac, American Express, Fluor, General Electric, Milliken & Company, Patagonia and Starbucks, among others.

A tip of the hat to all the winners.

Sweep to Ethisphere recognizes exceptional ethical leadership

Leslie Wayne

Leslie Wayne

Leslie Wayne, former senior editor at 100Reporters, is an award-winning business reporter, formerly at The New York Times. Ms. Wayne joined The Times in 1981 and has covered Wall Street, banking industry regulatory reform, municipal finance scandals and, most recently, the aerospace and military industries. Ms. Wayne has an M.B.A. in finance from Columbia Business School and was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Business and Economic Journalism.