Anyone who doubts that the FBI is serious about pursuing public corruption cases just got a big wake-up call this afternoon…
Charlotte Mayor Patrick Cannon, who has been in office 114 days, was arrested by FBI agents Wednesday.
Cannon, 47, faces several charges including theft and bribery.
The arrest follows an undercover investigation that began in August 2010. Authorities allege Cannon solicited and accepted cash from undercover FBI agents posing as real estate developers and investors who wanted to do business in Charlotte, North Carolina’s largest city.
Cannon allegedly accepted bribes in exchange for the privileges of his position as an elected official, whether it be as mayor, mayor pro tem or a city council member.
Keep in mind that Cannon is a Democrat in a Democratic city who succeeded the current U.S. Secretary of Transportation as mayor and he was still arrested by the FBI which falls under the purview of Attorney General Eric Holder. That in itself tells you something.
(UPDATE: It appears that the FBI has gone into a nationwide mode of sweeping up corrupt public officials in recent days with additional arrests / charges / raids involving a NY State Assemblyman, the Speaker of the RI House, and CA State Senators.)
Closer to home, here in Northern Virginia it was announced late last month that the FBI was convening a Public Corruption Task Force for this area. There have been rumors circulating for nearly two years about interviews and investigations that they have been engaged in around the area with a particular focus on the Prince William Board of County Supervisors. From The Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince William County’s blog in June 2012:
The Sheriff has now confirmed from several sources that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is now actively interviewing witnesses about the conduct of members of the Board of County Supervisors (BOCS).
The focus appears to be on campaign spending AND discretionary fund spending by some BOCS members. The Sheriff has been aware of this activity for several weeks, but chose to tread carefully so as not to impede the investigation in any way and to confirm that the reports are absolutely true.
The number of FBI interviews that have taken place has led to a more general public knowledge of this investigation and the targets are clearly certain BOCS members.
To vindicate what the Sheriff wrote then, I present you with this official comment from the FBI that was included in last month’s InsideNOVA.com article:
The Northern Virginia public corruption squad includes 12 agents and was established two years ago, officials said.
Now we have additional information on this via Virtucon’s sister blog, The Bull Elephant, which has obtained a copy of a tip sent in to the FBI where 7 out of the Board’s 8 members are implicated to varying degrees. The tip appears to further corroborate the initial reporting by the Sheriff as to the areas being investigated by the FBI and sheds some additional light on particulars.
Interestingly enough, some of what the FBI is thought to be investigating in Prince William County is the same as what the Mayor of Charlotte was arrested for doing in relation to real estate developers. The only question now is when will the next shoe drop on this?