Be careful what you say – you never know who may be listening

I was researching some civil and criminal records at the courthouse this afternoon. As I waited in line, I observed the court clerk giving an attorney a hard time over filing some papers.

After he left, she turned to her colleague at the adjoining window and told her; “I can’t stand that man, he’s such a weasel”. Now, far be it for me to try and convince a court official that a lawyer(s) is not a weasel. Indeed, there are plenty in society who would agree with her wholeheartedly.

However, that is not the point. The point is that she acted in a very unprofessional manner and it could have easliy been avoided. She had no right airing her opinions in front of a member of the public.

Maybe that attorney is a very capable professional. What if he specialized in an area where I might need his services? Everytime I see him I will have only one thought in mind – “weasel”.

If you are representing your employer or a client, be very careful what you may say and what may be overheard. There are certain individuals that I would never hire again, once I discovered that they gossip and spread rumors.

They say that loose lips sink ships. I believe that loose lips lead to pink slips.

Things are not always what they seem – just ask Eliot Spitzer.

In our daily consulting lives, we teach corporations to “expect the unexpected’, that way, you will not be caught off-guard. The announcement yesterday afternoon that the former Attorney General (8 years) and New York State Governor (1 year), Eliot Spitzer was being investigated for his part in a prostitution ring caught a lot of people off guard.

A crooked politician getting his hand caught in the proverbial cookie jar has become so common over the years that it is hardly worth the raising of an eyebrow anymore – unless they are running for president, of course. It is a different story however, when the politician happens to be a tough “take-no-prisoners” crime fighter – especially one who had a reputation for coming down hard on organized crime.

Eliot Spitzer getting caught (of course he is innocent until proven guilty, but his statement yesterday makes no mention of innocence claiming that he: “acted in a way that violated my sense of right and wrong”.)in a prostitution scandal is akin to the head of the DEA getting busted buying crack cocaine on a street corner or Batman “swooping” down on to the street to steal an old lady’s handbag.

What lesson can we learn from this? To me, it is that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. The Spitzer case is way “over the top” to what most of us will come across in our daily lives but it does teach us to keep our eyes open and look beneath the surface. If you are a business owner or a hiring manager, how many times have you hired someone because they looked “nice” or you had a “good feeling” about them? I hear that quite a lot.

Remember, a conman or conwoman, succeeds at what they do by lulling you into a false sense of security in order to achieve their goal. In other words, they “con” you. The con may be to get a job and once there they will steal your clients or fake an accident and go out on workman’s comp. I currently have a case where we are investigating somebody for a client who landed a six figure a year salary and on the third day, they had an “accident” and spent the next several months laying around their apartment cashing checks.

If someone as “untouchable” as a State Governor can fool us, then a future employee, vendor, internet scam artist or street pick pocket can also do it. Protect your assests and safeguard your future.

While you’re at it, expect the unexpected.

Who says Politics doesn’t pay and why can’t I find clients with pockets this deep?

I have never drank the political coolaid. I have little faith in big party politics. Give me an independent politician who does not have to toe a party line and I’ll show you a politician who has half a chance of being a decent advocate of the people.

I think one of the greatest wrongs that politicans commit is in their thinking of voters as idiots. I use the Washington Post article of 1/17/08 as a prime example. Staff writer Carrie Johnson writes in the Business section that GAO investigators will look into “NO-BID Contracts” irregularities involving the Justice Department.

This all came about when a firm led by the former Attorney General, John D. Ashcroft, drew attention for receiving lucrative (more like outrageous) contracts to oversee companies accused of fraud and other wrong doings. One firm in particular, Zimmer (famous for their “Zimmer Frames”), agreed to pay Mr. Ashcroft’s firm between $28 and $52 million dollars to resolve kickback allegations.

Two questions spring to mind; 1) How much was the original “kickback” amount when they can now afford to pay out $28,000,000.00 to $52,000,000.00? and 2) Does the recieving of (as much as) $52 million dollars by a former high ranking politician from a company with it’s back up against a wall not sound like a “kickback” in of itself?

What does Mr. Ashcroft’s firm deliver as a result of this outlandish payment? Well, as a “monitor”, they will make sure that Zimmer stops making illicit payment to doctors for using Zimmer products. There’s got to be more than that, surely? Kind of. Ashcroft said that he has already made several trips to Indiana to “understand Zimmer’s troubles.” Several trips to Indiana for $52 million dollars? Did they buy their own luxury jet just for those trips?

Private investigation firms all across America conducts similar services on a daily basis, only for a mere fraction of what Zimmer has paid to this former Government official. As a private security business owner I can attest to the fact that a typical investigation company would be delighted and thrilled to receive 2% – 3% of this amount and in so doing would employ highly skilled investigators with backgrounds and certifications such as Certified Fraud examiner in the FBI, United Nations and other Govt. and corporate investigative agencies.

You can be sure that Mr. Ashccroft is not the only former government offical riding the gravy train. The article states that several other former government officials with ties to the Bush administration have been awarded similar contracts since 2001.