American Leadership in an Age of Scandal
By Vincent J. Bove, CPP
As America prepares to celebrate the 230th anniversary of its
Declaration of Independence,
it is wise to reflect on the opening words of
"When in the course of human events…"
Jefferson continues with clearly enumerating grievances against the British crown to stir up the patriot's response
to massive and pervasive abuses of power. In 1858, senatorial candidate
described the stirring call of
Jefferson's words as "the electric cord…that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving people together."
Everything old is new again in that there is a clear and present massive and pervasive expression of an
abuse of authority throughout all elements of American life. Although America's independence was earned
through the sacrifices and courage of early patriots, Thomas Jefferson would have a field day with having to
stir contemporary America to transformation from a culture ripe with abuses of authority. Jefferson, who was admired by
Abraham Lincoln, would beckon present day American patriots to transform this great land with a new age of
character, truthfulness and dedication to duty.
Current headlines, from news sources throughout the country, are replete with corruption revelations that exemplify the
need for an American transformation. On July 18, 2005, San Diego, California's Acting Mayor Zucchet along with
Councilman Inzunza were convicted on federal corruption charges including wire fraud, conspiracy and extortion
John G. Rowland, the former governor of Connecticut, was driven from office by a corruption scandal and pleaded guilty on December 23, 2004
to a federal felony charge of "conspiracy to steal honest service
Currently, the former governor is in prison and as a convicted felon, ex-governor Rowland
is no longer able to vote or hold public office.
In New Jersey, the former mayor of Marlboro Township, Matthew V. Scannapieco,
pleaded guilty on April 12, 2005 to accepting $245,000.00 in bribes and tax evasion.
The United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, Christopher J. Christie stated,
"As Marlboro Township grew and faced development pressures, Scannapieco was there
with his hand wide open."
Also in the Garden State, on February 23, 2005, FBI agents arrested 11 Monmouth County
officials in a corruption roundup which included 3 sitting mayors, four current councilmen and a
police commissioner. This front page headline in New Jersey papers rivaled the largest graft
bust on one day in state history.
This corruption sting of arrested public officials took place only 7
days after an enlightening and alarming congressional testimony of
testimony of FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III
on February 16, 2005.
Director Mueller stated,
"Public corruption continues to pose the greatest threat level to the integrity of all levels
of government. Recent investigative efforts have intensified to identify and convict Immigration,
Department of State and DMV officials illegally selling visas or other citizenship documents and
drivers licenses to anyone with enough money… Many major metropolitan areas in the United States
have witnessed the indictment and conviction of corrupt public officials who betrayed the public trust
for profit or personal gain… Over the last two years alone, the FBI has convicted more then 1,050 corrupt
government employees, including 177 federal officials, 158 state officials and more then 365 police officers."
The culture of abuse is not isolated within the public service but is rampant throughout the private sector as well.
WorldCom's former CEO, Bernard Ebbers remains the icon of a legion of private officials including such formally
esteemed companies as Enron and Arthur Anderson, which now represent the culture of greed, dishonesty, dereliction
of duty and arrogance. On March 15, 2005, Mr. Ebbers was found guilty on all 9 counts of securities fraud and making
false statements to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission
Mr. Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison on July 14, 2005.
The pandemic of the abuse of authority is also within the American school system at the highest levels of authority
which disgracefully serves as horrendous example to American youth. On September 13, 2005, Angelo Petrone, the former
Yonkers, New York school superintendent pleaded guilty to perjury and tampering with documents during an official
Ex-superintendent Petrone was previously privileged to be responsible for the health, education and welfare
of 26,500 students in 41 schools and now awaits sentencing.
Another grave and one of even greater magnitude
within the very heart of America's school system is Ex-Chief Frank Tassone of Roslyn, New York who pleaded guilty on
September 27, 2005 to first and second degree larceny
Mr. Tassone's plea bargain will lead to a 4-12 year prison sentence
and restitution of over $2 million. The district auditor of the Roslyn schools is also accused and the probe may lead to 50
other school districts and American schools most shameful and extraordinary theft and corruption scandal.
America's national pastime has also been gravely tainted by this dishonesty and abuse of privilege.
hearings have acknowledged that baseball's weak policies do not do enough to deter the use of steroids and banned substances
to enhance an athlete's performance—cheating to get a competitive edge.
Individuals within privileged levels of authority must realize that their positions are of sacrosanct trust and demand
conduct beyond reproach. Positions of trust within both the public and private sector must walk along a pathway
that is dedicated to service and highlighted by personal character, wisdom and integrity.
Abraham Lincoln remains an icon of service to country in the midst of conflict, turmoil and scandal.
In the book, Lincoln's Virtues, An Ethical Biography, author William Lee Miller gives us a fresh,
insightful and engaging story so critical for America's response to an age of many small minded individuals
attracted to positions of power only for self-aggrandizement and whom are out of touch with the plight of many
disenfranchised fellow citizens. As one studies Lincoln's actions, speeches and writing, as well as personal accounts
from those who knew him, the book provides the current American culture of abuse with the needed response,
that is, a progression of moral development of one preparing and dedicated to serve.
Abraham Lincoln is the paragon of a great American politician, one who made the decision to enter American politics
with full realization that the essence of service in American life must be grounded without reservation in moral responsibility.
As a youth reading by the frontier fireside in order to develop his academic and moral fiber, Lincoln serves America to this
very day as a model since the higher he rose and the greater the power, the worthier his conduct became.
Lincoln's legacy holds the key to reversing the current scandalous trend of a public and private pestilence of corruption since
he was not only a great man of profound authority but a man of unquestionable character. His character is inseparable from his
thought, word and action and can be concisely understood from his words on February 27, 1860,
"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith, let us, to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."
Hear and understand Abraham Lincoln well, all who are in positions of power and authority over the people of America.
Vincent J. Bove, CPP
is a Board Certified Protection Professional, Board Certified Crime Prevention Specialist,
Certified Law Enforcement Instructor and U.S. Department of Justice Certified Community
Anti-Terrorism Awareness Trainer.
He is the 2007 New Jersey recipient of the prestigious
FBI Director's Community Leadership Award
and was hand-selected to serve as a facilitator and mentor for the 2007
National Conference on Ethics in America
and speaker for the 2008 conference at the United States Military Academy at West Point.
"Vincent J. Bove is considered one of the foremost
national experts on school and workplace violence
prevention, specializing in facility protection,
evacuations, terrorism prevention and leadership
training." -- U.S. Senate
You can visit Mr. Bove's website at
or email him at