The Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Section (“PIN”) is out with its annual report to Congress for 2011.  PIN has oversight responsibility for the prosecution of criminal laws related to the abuse of public trust by government officials, including federal campaign finance laws.  It handles cases directly and also serves in an advisory capacity to support and oversee public corruption prosecutions by U.S. Attorneys Offices. 

Among the highlights and lowlights of PIN’s annual report for 2011:

  • Years after the scandal was exposed, Jack Abramoff-related cases continued to provide a steady stream of work for PIN.  Two of the three federal legislative branch convictions highlighted involved individuals connected in some fashion to Abramoff. 
  • The report provides further evidence that PIN aggressively prosecutes those who have reimbursed campaign contributions and those who provide campaigns with false information.  All three of the election law cases highlighted in the report — including PIN’s failed prosecution of former U.S. Senator and former presidential candidate John Edwards — involved charges that the defendants caused inaccurate statements to be filed with the FEC.  Two of those cases related to political contribution reimbursement schemes.  In general, anecdotal evidence suggests an increasing emphasis by PIN and by U.S. Attorneys Offices nationwide on investigating and prosecuting campaign contribution reimbursement cases. 
  • As described in the chart below, PIN’s overall corruption caseload appears to be down somewhat from 2010.  We think this reflects a general clearing of the deadwood by Jack Smith, the relatively new chief of PIN, rather than an intentional reduction in PIN’s aggressiveness.  And we suspect the annual report for 2012, which will be issued next year, could reveal an uptick as a new wave of cases are investigated and prosecuted.  Here are the stats for 2011:
  Cases Pending Close of 2010 Cases Pending Close of 2011
Corruption in the federal judiciary 1 0
Corruption in Congress 9 6
Corruption in federal executive branch 26 14
Corruption in state and local government 40 30

 

  • The U.S. Attorney’s Office for Puerto Rico led the country in corruption convictions in 2011 with 130, followed distantly by Maryland and the Eastern District of Virginia.  Puerto Rico also ranks second for total convictions since 2002, trailing only New Jersey.