US Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Thursday he would personally ensure that the US Department of Justice does not bow to political pressure as it prosecutes government officials for corruption. In a speech to the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, Mukasey said:
Public corruption can inflict damage that is not only costly but also profound. When a public servant at any level of government exploits his or her office for improper purposes, the damage is measured not just in dollars and cents but also in erosion of the public trust upon which depends the survival of our system of government.
We fight, investigate and prosecute public corruption to ensure that those who hold public office live up to the public's trust, and to build the public's confidence in the very idea of government, without which the government cannot function.
The investigation and prosecution of public corruption is therefore among the highest obligations of law enforcement, and it should come as no surprise that I consider it to be one of the top priorities of the Department of Justice. In recent years, the Department's career prosecutors and criminal investigators have been engaged in a renewed effort to pursue corruption at all levels and in all branches of government.
Mukasey emphasized that the joint efforts of the DOJ and US Attorney's offices had resulted in the convictions of 1,093 individuals for corruption in 2006, including former congressmen Randy "Duke" Cunningham and Bob Ney.
Mukasey's speech came only hours after a federal grand jury in San Juan, Puerto Rico charged Puerto Rican Governor Anibal Acevedo Vila and 12 associates with 27 counts of conspiracy, false statements, wire fraud, federal program fraud and tax crimes related to campaign financing.