The report of a Palm Beach County grand jury was released last week that said the county is “facing a crisis of trust in public governance” because three county and two West Palm Beach city commissioners have pled guilty to federal corruption charges over the last several years.
“While some tentative efforts are being made within the county government to combat the pervasive perception of corruption, the core aspects of effective governance — accountability and transparency — are not being adequately addressed,” said the report, which comes on the heels of a bond scandal in the county that put a local investment banker behind bars.
The grand jury’s recommendations included putting in place a watchdog to monitor the activities of government and adopting the Government Finance Officers Association’s recommended practices for selecting underwriters.
County commissioners have a long-held practice of appointing underwriting firms to a pool to be rotated on bond deals. That procedure is being reviewed.
Last week, former banker Kevin McCarty reported to prison and began serving an eight-month term for failing to report the corrupt activities of his wife, Palm Beach County commissioner Mary McCarty. She is expected to be sentenced today for conspiring to deprive constituents of her honest services, including using her influence to steer bond business to her husband while he worked at Bear, Stearns & Co. and Raymond James & Associates Inc. No charges have been brought against the investment banks.