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WDEL Blog: Allan Loudell

Are Delaware lawmakers even familiar with the term, 'conflict of interest'?

Delaware lawmakers and in fact, Governor Markell, in their infinite wisdom rushed through legislation erasing the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. In its place, a spanking new forensic science division under the control of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security.

In essence, law enforcement will be supervising the handling of an office for law enforcement. Governor Markell, apparently having no qualms over the arrangement, quickly signed the measure into law.

Brilliant!

So often, politicians go for the quick fix.

At the national/international level, it's the equivalent of dropping bombs somewhere in response to some event, with seemingly little thought to the efficacy of such an intervention.

State Senator Karen Peterson (D-Stanton) was one of the few lawmakers to defy this tidal wave of wrongheaded conventional wisdom to point out the inherent conflict of interest. Other Wilmington-area lawmakers, such as the always parochial State Representative Charles Potter (D-Wilmington), only seemed to be concerned that the crime lab might leave the city, not the conflict-of-interest problem. [In fairness, a FEW Wilmington lawmakers, such as State Representatives J.J. Johnson (D-Wilmington) and John Kowalko (D-Newark South), expressed conflict-of-interest concerns!]

Yes, the tainted and missing drug evidence scandal called for decisive action. Obviously more oversight. New rules preventing the chief medical examiner from "moonlighting" elsewhere. (By the way, is suspended chief medical examiner Richard Callery EVER going to be suspended WITHOUT pay? Come to think of it, now that his office has gone bye-bye, even more reason to end this charade?)

But, as outside groups have already noted, putting the drug lab under an arm of law enforcement inevitably creates an unavoidable conflict, and introduces new questions about the integrity of the evidence.

Ironic, considering the recently observed 25th anniversary of the O.J. Simpson slow-mo car chase, where the integrity of the evidence and the credibility of law-enforcement were key.

Look for new legal challenges, including lawsuits.

One can acknowledge one plus side: Lawmakers are much more inclined to fully fund the Department of Safety & Homeland Security than the Department of Health & Social Services. Police and security always trump social programs. And the Delaware State Police wield disproportionate political influence in Dover.



Posted at 7:40am on June 25, 2014 by Allan Loudell

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Comments on this post:

Mike
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 9:22am
Can't disagree with a word you wrote.

JimH
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 11:43am
Allan,

As a native Delawarean, I am always surprised when someone fails to understand us. It is not a conflict of interest. It is business as usual. And of course the governor signed it. Someone is owed a favor so he paid up!

mrpizza
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 4:36pm
"Conflict of interest" only applies to private citizens, not politicians.

kavips
Wed, Jun 25, 2014 8:23pm
So now, Homeland Security can fabricate data and fabricate medical evidence to corroborate it...

O.J. all over again... he really was innocent, btw.

mrpizza
Thu, Jun 26, 2014 5:19am
Well, scientists along with Al Gore have fabricated so-called "global warming" data for years in an effort to extort the American taxpayer, so it's only fair that Homeland Security can do it too.

OJ should have gone to the California gas chamber.

Arthur
Thu, Jun 26, 2014 2:36pm
The only conflict-of-interest politicians understand is when something conflicts with their interests - can this make me money? Will this help me look good? Anything else is a conflict-of-interest.


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