Steven Greenhut: Wildfire Case Ignites Troubling Federal Misconduct Allegations


Liberals often complain about the greed of profit-seeking corporations, while conservatives likewise complain about abuses by government officials. Both sides might take notice of something that seems to epitomize the worst of both worlds — government agencies that use their power to bolster their own budgets. An eye-popping example – filled with allegations of fraud, corruption, and official misconduct – is unfolding in a northern California legal case involving state and federal efforts to secure a massive financial settlement from the state's largest land owner, Sierra Pacific Industries. Steven Greenhut writes that the Moonlight Fire case isn't a rare instance where agencies use their power to secure large payments that then benefit government agencies. Local, state and federal officials routinely rely on the proceeds from civil-forfeiture cases to balance their budgets.