Honest Services & Conrad Black

Thank you, conservative court:

The courtsaid Thursday that the “honest services” law could not be used in convicting Mr. Skilling for his role in the collapse of Enron. But JusticeRuth Bader Ginsburg said in her majority opinion that the ruling does not necessarily require Mr. Skilling’s conviction to be overturned.

During arguments in December and March, several justices seemed
inclined to limit prosecutors’ use of this law, which critics have said
is vague and has been used to make a crime out of mistakes and minor
transgressions in the business and political world.

The court, at the same time, rejected Mr. Skilling’s assertion that he
did not get a fair trial in Houston because of harshly critical
publicity surrounding the case in Enron’s hometown.

The court in this ruling also sided with the former newspaper magnate, Conrad Black, setting aside
a federal appeals court decision that had upheld Mr. Black’s honest
services fraud conviction. But as in Mr. Skilling’s case, the justices
left the ultimate resolution of the case to the appeals court.


Mr. Black, serving a 6 1/2-year prison term, and two other former
executives were convicted of depriving the Hollinger International
media empire of their faithful services as corporate officers.The
company once owned The Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily Telegraph of
London, The Jerusalem Post and hundreds of community papers across the
United States and Canada.

Central to the case is $5.5 million that the defendants say were
management fees they were owed and were trying to collect in such a way
that they would not have to pay Canadian income tax. The government
says the money belonged to the company’s shareholders.

Yeah. Stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars, running decent newspapers into the ground, depriving entire communities of access to information by having your minions redline them out of coverage areas because of fucking economics, fucking over employees year after year after year … that’s just fucking great. That’s just awesome. I’m less concerned about the shareholders, who did indeed get screwed, but that’s just because I’m some fucking idiot who actually thinks corporations have a responsibility to their employees and customers. I know, I’m a fucking moron, okay? I’m sorry, I’m still into journalism as public service. I’ll give you a minute to point and laugh and then we can get back to business.

You know, in the absence of any meaningful punishment for this motherfucker, we’re going to have to resort to old-fashioned shunning. Wherein decent people refuse to receive the sleazy son of a bitch in their homes, refuse to shake his hand in public, leave him off the party invite list, and throw rotten fruit and hiss whenever he speaks to the assembled plebes.

At the very least, this is what can happen. It’s fun for sensible, respectable liberals to bag on people like Code Pink for showing up in costumes and screaming at Karl Rove when he appears in public, or standing up covered in oil when Tony Hayward pokes his head out of his hole because “that won’t change anything.” It’s fun to talk about how it’s a turnoff, or it’s counterproductive, because then we can just kick back and congratulate ourselves for not being so damn loud and annoying.

But lately, with all the looking forward we’re doing and not looking back, with all the TOTAL AND COMPLETE UNWILLINGNESS TO PUNISH ANYBODY FOR ANYTHING, with motherfuckers like Black being sent to lovely resort prison instead ofOffice Space prison, if all that can be done to these assholes is some good olden-times public shaming, then I say fuck yeah to the people doing it and here’s some cash come payday. I say we need more of that, not less, and I applaud it wherever and whenever it happens.

I suffer from no delusion that the Important People will refuse to invite Conrad places. He, like Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney and Dougie Feith, will always have a job and a place to go when he’s lonely. And hopefully somebody will be there, shouting at him to rot in hell, as uncouth and annoying as that may be.


11 thoughts on “Honest Services & Conrad Black

  1. Dumb Question:
    while hawking their wares, did Enron et al. state or imply that they were selling honest services?
    If they can use it to sell, they should be liable for it.

  2. Not sure how he stepped on your toes, Athenae. Your venom seems a little over the top. And I suppose those newspapers are all doing much better, now that he no longer runs them. Like the Chicago Sun-Times, for instance?

  3. I got a big middle finger and a couple of pieces of rotten fruit for Lord Black of Fuckyouverymuchpeon. He’s been badmouthing my country for half his life, all the while taking as much from it as he can get (and it made him a billionaire), and then ditching his citizenship so that people could feed his ego by calling him “Lord,” and then begging for his citizenship back when it became inconvenient. (I think he wanted that rotten borough peerage because he secretly thinks he’s agod, and therefore deserves to be called “Lord.”) Fuck him twice with a rusty pica ruler.
    He also suggested that one of my favourite political writers should be “horsewhipped live on national television.” She’s a woman, and I’m not smellingany misogyny there atall, nope nope.
    He’s atextbook megalomaniac, and could use to be sent to an island somewhere without access to the outside world.

  4. which critics have said is vague andhas been used to make a crime out of mistakes and minor transgressions in the business and political world.
    When? When has this ever happened? Who was unfairly convicted of a crime? Conrad black? Is this a suggestion that his “transgressions” were minor, or only “mistakes”?
    It’s not even clear who Liptak is making the claim — is it the critics who find it vague? Someone else? Himself perhaps?
    With such a tight media job market, one might be mistaken in thinking that it would create an incentive for those like Liptak who still have jobs to step up their game a bit.

  5. Ah, well, I wonder where fiduciary duties figure into this? How exactly does Skilling get off when it was pretty well established that at precisely the time when he and Ken Lay were telling both their employees and general investors to hold and/or buy (and later freezing the sale of stock by employees low down on the totem pole), the top guys at Enron were shoveling money out the door and into their pockets through stock sales.
    Black was bleeding money out his organizations, too. If the “honest services” law was too vague, then what about fiduciary obligations? Those have long been recognized and codified in SEC regs. If an ordinary banker at a community bank behaved as they did, he’d be in the slammer for years.
    I guess that’s why they’re Masters of the Universe–the ordinary laws of gravity don’t apply to them…

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