Roger That and Blago This: Truth Percolates and/or Gushes

Roger Clemens was indicted for perjury.  Former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich was convicted on one count of 24 charges – that of lying to the FBI. Common thread?  Their troubles did not spring from their mistakes, misjudgments, and almost felonies.  Their troubles resulted from what they did when their conduct percolated to the surface.  Well, their troubles began when their conduct gushed to the surface like oil from a BP Gulf rig.  From the time of Nixon, it’s always the cover-up that gets you.  President Nixon was not one of the Watergate burglars. Nor was anyone able to show he was in on the planning for the Keystone Kop sleuths who inartfully broke into the swank Democrat headquarters. But Mr. Nixon paid the price for trying to keep it all under wraps.  You can’t – this stuff just wants out there. If Martha Stewart had just said, when the SEC came calling about her fortuitous sale of her ImClone shares, “Okay, probably crossed a few lines here,” then she would have faced a $10,000 fine and moved along. Life, cooking,  gardening, decorating, and all things Martha would have continued outside  penitentiary walls. Instead, Ms. Stewart attempted to alter phone logs, tried to have her broker and his assistant support her story of a stop-gap order (that was shown to be backdated through FBI ink analysis), and just generally tried to dupe the FBI.  The FBI is not duped easily.  Her conviction was for obstruction, not insider trading and not for anything involving the sale of the ImClone shares. 


For Mr. Clemens, the Alex Rodriguez story is a study in contrast.  Mr. A-Rod had the smarts when asked to admit that he knew he wasn’t taking “Tic-Tacs.”  A-Rod just hit his 600th with little note made of his help from steroids along the way.  Congress offered Mr. Clemens a deal before he testified in 2008 – come clean, give us the information, and walk away.  Mr. Clemens went another route that finds him indicated.


For Governor Blago, well, the tapes of his discussions on filling President Obama’s senate seat made our toes curl. As the discerning jury figured, these conversations did not clearly rise to the level of criminal conduct. However, the jury that could not agree on anything else offered a unanimous conviction on Blago’s conduct that was not related to the tapes and all their quid pro quo glory.  Blagojevich was convicted of lying to federal agents when he told them that he did not track campaign contributions personally and that there was a “firewall” between his political campaigns and his government work.  Right! Knowing who contributes to your campaign is not a crime.  Lying about firewalls and what you do with the information is.

Get it out there and take your lumps.  The lumps are smaller and go down more easily when we just ‘fess up.

About mmjdiary

Professor Marianne Jennings is an emeritus professor of legal and ethical studies from the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University, retiring in 2011 after 35 years of teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in ethics and the legal environment of business. During her tenure at ASU, she served as director of the Joan and David Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics from 1995-1999. In 2006, she was appointed faculty director for the W.P. Carey Executive MBA Program. She has done consulting work for businesses and professional groups including AICPA, Boeing, Dial Corporation, Edward Jones, Mattel, Motorola, CFA Institute, Southern California Edison, the Institute of Internal Auditors, AIMR, DuPont, AES, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Motorola, Hy-Vee Foods, IBM, Bell Helicopter, Amgen, Raytheon, and VIAD. The sixth edition of her textbook, Case Studies in Business Ethics, was published in February 2011. The ninth edition of her textbook, Business: lts Legal, Ethical and Global Environment was published in January 2011. The 23rd edition of her book, Business Law: Principles and Cases, will be published in January 2013. The tenth edition of her book, Real Estate Law, will also be published in January 2013. Her book, A Business Tale: A Story of Ethics, Choices, Success, and a Very Large Rabbit, a fable about business ethics, was chosen by Library Journal in 2004 as its business book of the year. A Business Tale was also a finalist for two other literary awards for 2004. In 2000 her book on corporate governance was published by the New York Times MBA Pocket Series. Her book on long-term success, Building a Business Through Good Times and Bad: Lessons from Fifteen Companies, Each With a Century of Dividends, was published in October 2002 and has been used by Booz, Allen, Hamilton for its work on business longevity. Her latest book, The Seven Signs of Ethical Collapse was published by St. Martin’s Press in July 2006 and has been a finalist for two book awards. Her weekly columns are syndicated around the country, and her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Reader's Digest. A collection of her essays, Nobody Fixes Real Carrot Sticks Anymore, first published in 1994 is still being published. She has been a commentator on business issues on All Things Considered for National Public Radio. She has served on four boards of directors, including Arizona Public Service (1987-2000), Zealous Capital Corporation, and the Center for Children with Chronic Illness and Disability at the University of Minnesota. She was appointed to the board of advisors for the Institute of Nuclear Power Operators in 2004 and served on the board of trustees for Think Arizona, a public policy think tank. She has appeared on CNBC, CBS This Morning, the Today Show, and CBS Evening News. In 2010 she was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Business Ethics by Trust Across America. Her books have been translated into four different languages. She received the British Emerald award for authoring one of their top 50 articles in management publications, chosen from over 15,000 articles. Personal: Married since 1976 to Terry H. Jennings, Maricopa County Attorney’s Office Deputy County Attorney; five children: Sarah, Sam, and John, and the late Claire and Hannah Jennings.
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