Darren Reagan – Choices and Consequences That Include Prison! Comments by Business Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher

October 12, 2008

In June of 2008 Darren Reagan was convicted of theft of public money – a federal offense. On October 8th, 2008 he was sentenced to 12 months in federal prison. But this is not the end for Reagan, as he will face additional charges and a hearing in January 2009 for other alleged offenses.

As a business ethics speaker, I remind audiences around the nation that every choice has a consequence. More times than not, we might make simple (unethical or illegal) choices that seem innocent at the time, with the full intent on paying back. Reality is, however, you cannot escape the consequence of the choices made. I know and speak from experience, as it was thirteen years ago to the month that I took my first steps into federal prison for the choices that I made.

According to the US Attorneys Office:

Reagan, who is currently in federal custody, is also a defendant in the Dallas City Hall corruption investigation case, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of extortion by public officials, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of tax evasion. That case is scheduled to go to trial in January 2009.

At trial, the jury found that from October 1, 2002, through September 1, 2007, Reagan knowingly stole approximately $45,000 in rental housing assistance payments from the Dallas Housing Authority (DHA) in connection with the rental of certain property to his mother-in-law, Leatha Kirven. Reagan falsely claimed to the DHA that he had no blood, marital, or other familiar relationship to Ms. Kirven, and as such, caused DHA to pay him housing assistant payments to which he was not entitled.

Mrs. Kirven testified in a videotaped deposition taken from her hospital room that she knew that when she signed up for the Section 8 housing assistance with Mr. Reagan, that she knew it was against the rules. She also testified that she told federal agents, when questioned by them two years ago, that she knew it was wrong.

Darren L. Reagan is also a defendant in the Dallas City Hall corruption investigation case, charged with conspiracy to commit extortion, two counts of extortion by public officials, one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering and four counts of tax evasion. That case is scheduled to go to trial in January 2009.

Politics and Ethics – A Question

Ethics is defined as the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation. Now if that is generally true – that ethical choices are defined as those choices that deal with a moral duty and obligation, then the question is can ethics and politics truly go hand in hand?

Some would, of course, say yes. I’ve heard it said that ethical people are always ethical. However, from my experience personally and in observing the behavior of others, I am not sure that is true. I have come to believe that ethical or moral people can become so tempted that they make unethical or bad decisions. And, speaking from experience, the first decision although mentally difficult is the one that paves the way for more to follow.

So here me out and please, with your comments, answer this question! I submit that Darren Reagan started out being a good man. Like most of us, he likely had his flaws, but I bet there are those who would read this and vouch that Reagan was a good man. If that is so, then what happened that caused an otherwise good man to make choices that ended him up with a home in federal prison? Could it be that the power of politics proved to be too much temptation?

Those who have a connection to this case – your comments are welcome!


Ethics Violation Investigations – HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson Resigns!

March 31, 2008

Ethics is a major branch of philosophy, encompassing right conduct and good life according to Wikipedia. In the case of someone stepping down from a significant position within the government, the “good life” portion may now be in question.

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Having grown weary of multiple ethics investigations, HUD Secretary Alphanso Jackson has been hinting at the possibility of resignation for over a year.

According to a report by CNN: The FBI has been investigating allegations that Jackson steered a federal contract to a golfing buddy based in South Carolina. Jackson has denied wrongdoing and White House officials have said for months that the president still has confidence in Jackson. No charges have been filed against him.

A long time friend of President Bush, before being confirmed head of HUD, Jackson ran Dallas’ housing authority and lead a Texas power company – American Electric Power – Texas in Austin.

Jackson stated speaking to reporters, “As the son of a lead smelter and nurse midwife, and the last of 12 children, never did I imagine I would serve America in such a way. I am truly grateful for the opportunity. We have helped families keep their homes, we have transformed public housing, we have reduced chronic homelessness, and we have preserved affordable housing and increased minority homeownership.”

THE ALLEGATIONS:

Senator Chris Dodd, D-Connecticut, earlier in the month demanded Jackson‘s resignation. Dodd said an inspector-general’s report recently stated that Jackson had advised staffers to “take political affiliation into account in awarding contacts,” and “serious allegations about his impropriety” are under investigation in three cases, although Dodd did not name them.

According to a CBS report: Jackson has been involved in a controversy over a Philadelphia redevelopment project, with accusations aired in a lawsuit that Jackson tried to retaliate against a city agency after it refused to award a contract to one of his friends. Jackson and other HUD officials have denied any wrongdoing.

The Washington Post states: The lawsuit alleges that Jackson, in a call to Philadelphia’s mayor in late 2006, demanded that the authority turn over the $2 million property to developer Kenny Gamble. Jackson‘s top assistant secretaries insisted in numerous letters and calls in 2007 that, if Philadelphia didn’t give the property to Gamble, the housing authority would be found in violation of a federal contract. The housing authority’s director, Carl R. Greene, repeatedly refused.

Fox News reports: The FBI has been examining the ties between Jackson and a friend who was paid $392,000 by Jackson’s department as a construction manager in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Again, according to Fox News: Last year, the inspector general at Jackson‘s department found what it called “some problematic instances” involving HUD contracts and grants, including Jackson‘s opposition to money for a contractor whose executives donated exclusively to Democratic candidates.

The Dallas Business Journal writes: According to an internal copy of the IG’s findings, obtained by the DBJ through a Freedom of Information Act request, top aides to Jackson testified that they and other senior staff members were advised to take political leanings into consideration when awarding discretionary contracts.

ETHICS:

A number of issues surround Jackson‘s work while at HUD. Often people find that power corrupts and that corruption can blur moral and ethics boundaries. It has been said that there is no such thing as business or political ethics, there are only ethical people. But “ethics” do exist. It is their application – or lack thereof – that is often called into question. What is being questioned is Jackson‘s application of ethical and moral principles as they apply to his job as HUD Secretary.

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Increasingly, with every choice being scrutinized, the application of choices in the ethical arena are under the microscope of conscience-focused public demand for fair and right. While politicians routinely make choices that benefit their constituents – it is generally deemed “unethical” to break the law or be so blatant about the political favors granted that one is accused of being “unethical.”

Every choice has a consequence. As a white collar crime and business ethics speaker, I speak from first hand experience about the truth about consequences. Reality is – no one escapes the consequences of their choices. While Jackson may have been supported by President Bush he did not avoid the consequences of how he handled his department. His resignation is not all related to personal and family matters – not when you resign under fire. What effect this has on any on-going criminal investigation is unclear at this time. One thing is for sure, you do reap what you sow.

If anyone reading has any background on Jackson – feel free to comment as I study the behaviors and backgrounds of those who are accused of unethical conduct.

Business Ethics Speaker – Chuck Gallagher – signing off…