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Editorial: No level of corruption should be seen as OK

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To small-towners and small-timers who may be misusing the public’s trust or money just a little bit: You’d better watch out; the FBI is coming to town.

The Albuquerque division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation has announced a new initiative for the new year with a goal of rooting out corruption in rural New Mexico, no matter how small.

“There’s not a low-grade corruption level that we’re willing to accept for the people of the state of New Mexico,” the FBI’s chief division counsel, Stephan Marshall, told the Journal editorial board.

Marshall recalled a case in Texas in which a lawman was tried for taking money to fix DWI offenses. Though there was clear evidence, he said, the jury’s verdict was not guilty because that’s the way things had always been done.

So, to help residents identify corruption, the FBI’s website lists examples of ways officials could be abusing their power, such as awarding contracts with no bids or to close relatives. Go to www.FBI.gov/albuquerque/priorities. The agency also has set up a hot line – 505-889-1580 – where residents can report suspected corruption. Measures are taken to protect people whom an initial probe shows are innocent.

Carol Lee, the FBI’s special agent in charge, said that, besides limiting the amount of money available for the benefit of all, corruption can stymie law enforcement and reduce services – negatively affecting the very culture of a small community.

So even if a particular act of corruption might not seem like much to the locals, New Mexico would be a better state without it.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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