This curious book, compiled and published by the U.S. Government, is a catalog of examples of ethical failure among federal employees. As explained in the intro:
The Standards of Conduct Office of the Department of Defense General Counsel’s Office has assembled the following selection of cases of ethical failure for use as a training tool. Our goal is to provide DoD personnel with real examples of Federal employees who have intentionally or unwittingly violated the standards of conduct. Some cases are humorous, some sad, and all are real. Some will anger you as a Federal employee and some will anger you as an American taxpayer.
Some of the categories of ethical failure include Abuse of Position, Bribery, Conflicts of Interest, Credit-Card Abuse, Financial Disclosure Violations, Fraud, Gift Violations, Travel Violations, Misuse of Government Resources and Personnel, and Time and Attendance Violations.
The town of High Wycombe in England has an ancient custom of weighing their mayors, first upon taking office and again at the end of their term. To have gained weight is taken as evidence that they've grown wealthy at the taxpayer's expense. It's like an ancient form of fat-shaming.
In the 1950s, the mayor of Minneapolis, Eric Hoyer, decided to adopt this custom. He even arranged to have the official scales flown in from High Wycombe. He apparently was pretty confident that he'd lost weight, but according to the scales he had gained some. He blamed the extra weight on the ceremonial costume he was wearing for the occasion.
It's an interesting custom. Perhaps we should weigh more politicians periodically. Such as an annual weighing of senators and the president.
Back in the old days, when politicians still felt obliged to reveal their finances...
October 1952: Mike Murphy, 12-year-old candidate for secretary of the student body at Madison high school in Phoenix, AZ, felt it would be the honest thing to do to release a full financial statement. He revealed that he earned a dollar a week allowance, and a dollar for every gopher he caught in the yard. Gophers from neighbors' yards didn't count. He won the election.
March 1995: During the discussion of a bill in the New Mexico state senate, Sen. Duncan Scott (R) proposed the following amendment:
When a psychologist or psychiatrist testifies during a defendant's competency hearing, the psychologist or psychiatrist shall wear a cone-shaped hat that is not less than 2 feet tall. The surface of the hat shall be imprinted with stars and lightning bolts.
Additionally, a psychologist or psychiatrist shall be required to don a white beard that is not less than 18 inches in length, and shall punctuate crucial elements of his testimony by stabbing the air with a wand. Whenever a psychologist or psychiatrist provides expert testimony regarding the defendant's competency, the bailiff shall contemporaneously dim the courtroom lights and administer two strikes to a Chinese gong.
It passed in the Senate, but didn't make it through the House.
As you can see from this 1914 article George Washington Glick was practically unknown when his statue was new. Is it any wonder then that, as Wikipedia tells us, "In 2003, Kansas became the first state to replace a statue [in the National Statuary Hall] when it replaced Glick with a bronze of former president Dwight D. Eisenhower. Glick's statue was moved to the Kansas History Center in Topeka."
A few days ago, a wasp flew into the mouth of Luis Guillermo Solis, the president of Costa Rica, while he was outside speaking to reporters. Solis swallowed it. Then he declared (in Spanish), "I ate it. I ate the wasp." More info at wtnh.com.
I'd like to see more politicians gulping insects out of the air like frogs as they speak. It would improve political oratory immensely.
The event also recalled that classic unscripted moment during Raiders of the Lost Ark when a fly appeared to crawl into the mouth of Paul Freeman, who was playing the character of the archaeologist Belloq. Although according to this site, the fly didn't really crawl into his mouth. The film editors, as a joke, took out a few frames to make it look as if the fly entered his mouth.
In 2012, the residents of Idyllwild, California elected Max as their mayor. He was a golden retriever. Tragically he died of cancer a year later, but the people of Idyllwild agreed that Maximus Mighty-Dog Mueller II, aka Mayor Max II, could complete his term of office. The new Max was subsequently granted a perpetual term as mayor. So he's still in charge there.
Marlin Hawkins served as an elected official in Conway County, Arkansas for 38 years — for most of that time as sheriff. He built up a legendary political machine, being able not only to win reelection for himself (19 times) but also to deliver votes for other candidates. He often boasted that he could accurately predict the outcome of every election in the county.
It was long suspected that he was rigging the elections, especially since absentee voters would always vote for him by a wide margin, but no one could ever prove anything.
After he retired in 1978, Hawkins eventually wrote his autobiography, which he brazenly titled How I Stole Elections (available on Amazon). He joked that he "stole" them by "treating my neighbors right."
But no, he stole them by ballot fraud.
His book came out in 1991. The year after, some people who were remodeling their house discovered a whole stash of marked ballots from a 1968 election hidden in their attic. The house had previously been owned by one of Hawkins' deputies.
Hawkins got away with it because the statute of limitations had expired in 1974. He died in 1995.
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.