The nuts and bolts of bribing a bureaucrat—or at least the guy in the photo

imageHow to bribe a corrupt bureaucrat? No need for cash in brown bags. In The Solomon Scandals I tell of a lower-mid-level ‘crat whom Sy Solomon flies to New York and treats to a $110 lunch. Sy is the biggest of the real estate tycoons renting office space to the feds, and not just by accident.

So how about real life? David Safavian, a top executive at the General Services Administration, the agency written up in Scandals, paid $3,100 to go to Scotland. At first glance Safavian’s records would have looked normal. But actually the $3,100 was no small bargain if you consider that it bought a chartered jet flight, $400 golf games and $400-$500-a-night hotel rooms, according to the Associated Press. His benefactor? The notorious lobbyist Jack Abramoff, whom Safavian helped in real estate transactions. Safavian drew a year in the slammer for lying to investigators about his Abramoff-related dealings.

Important qualifier: Most bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are just as honest as anyone else and maybe even more so, because of background checks.

Related: Free Upton Sinclair classic tells how Wall Street manipulators can cheat the rest of us.

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David Rothman

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