Assistant Director Chris Swecker today joined
Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher
and other officials in Washington to announce
that former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has pled
guilty to charges of conspiracy, mail
fraud, and tax evasion in a wide-ranging
public corruption investigation.
This plea is just one example of the FBI’s much larger effort to root out corruption at all levels of government—from your local DMV office to the halls of Congress. Following today’s press conference, we spoke to Chris Swecker about the bigger meaning behind the plea.
Q: Why is this plea so significant?
Swecker: It’s the latest in a case involving systemic corruption within the highest levels of government. So far, the investigation has spanned nearly two years, involved agents in over a dozen FBI field offices, and required hundreds of interviews and forensic analysis of thousands of documents and financial records. And our investigation is ongoing—we fully expect additional subjects to be charged in the future. But this plea is just one of many recent successes we’ve had across the country.
Q: How extensive are the FBI’s efforts to combat corruption?
Swecker: We have the unique responsibility of uncovering instances of public corruption at all levels of government. In fact, it’s our No. 1 criminal investigative priority. Since 2001, we’ve dedicated more than 200 additional agents to investigate these cases. In fiscal year 2005 alone, we investigated well over 2,000 cases of corruption nationwide and those investigations led to over 750 convictions. None of our criminal resources will be sparred in investigating these crimes.
Q. Why is public corruption such a serious concern?
Swecker: Because it has a devastating effect on the public trust. The American people have a right to expect honest services from their public officials and our public corruption program is determined to prevent abuse of the public trust. Government is not for sale.