In the United States, The Ohio Bureau of Worker’s Compensation (OBWC) is the largest exclusive state-operated and second largest provider of workers compensation insurance. They provide compensation and medical benefits for work-related diseases, injuries and deaths for roughly two-thirds of Ohio’s work force. (ohiobwc.com, n.d.)
In 2005 it was revealed by investigative journalists that former Ohio governor Bob Taft’s administration was involved in a scandal known as “coingate”. Tom Noe, a coin dealer and top republican fund raiser was awarded contracts to invest $50 million dollars on behalf of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC), which he invested in rare coins. Two coins worth $300k went missing and further investigations revealed that only $13 million of the $50 million could be accounted for. In 2006 Noe was sentenced to 18 years in jail for money laundering while former governor Bob Taft was charged with misdemeanors. Taft admitted that he had failed to report 45 golf outings provided to him over the course of seven years as well as numerous gifts from Noe.
Bob Taft’s misuse of office for self-gain is clearly an unethical abuse of power and a common scenario that a public servant will most likely face during the course of their career. According to the United States Office of Government Ethics, the basic obligations of public service incorporate general principles which form the basis of ethical conduct. Two of these principles are that employees shall not use public office for private gain and that they shall act impartially and not give preferential treatment to any private organization or individual. Employees are prohibited from soliciting or accepting any gift from a prohibited source or because of their official positing. Any action contrary to this would be unethical conduct.
Although Tom Noe was contracted by the OBWC, the same ethical standards expected of government employees should be expected from government contractors. Money laundering, the practice of disguising the origin of funds, is unethical because it is illegal and dishonest.
Due to both of their actions, the OBWC was unable to recover the investment funds and later had to readjust investment strategies in order to continue providing their service. In order to prevent this from occurring in the future; contracting oversight agencies should be established on all levels of government in order to ensure strong fiscal and management controls, and by supporting audits and investigative activities. (ASPA, n.d.)
A Brief Guide to Coingate. (n.d.). Commoncause.org. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=475691
Cauchon, D. (n.d.). USATODAY.com – Rare-coin deal buys scandal for Ohio governor. News, Travel, Weather, Entertainment, Sports, Technology, U.S. & World – USATODAY.com. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2005-08-16-coingate-taft_x.htm
Code of Ethics. (n.d.). The American Society for Public Administration. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from http://www.aspanet.org/scriptcontent
OhioBWC. (n.d.). Ohio.gov. Retrieved June 15, 2011, from http://www.ohiobwc.com/
Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch. (n.d.). United States Office of Government Ethics. Retrieved June 16, 2011, from http://www.usoge.gov/ethics_docs/publications