Global Corruption Fighters: Robert F. Kennedy

The new book Global Corruption: Money, Power, and Ethics in the Modern World suggests ways in which the problems caused by corruption can be addressed and ultimately prevented. Written by Laurence Cockcroft, a development economist and a founding member of Transparency International, the book not only exposes corruption and the toll it takes on the world's poor. It also highlights women and men who stood up to dishonest practices, often at the cost of their lives.

In the coming weeks, we'll feature some of the prominent corruption fighters in Cockcroft's book, beginning close to home with a familiar American politcial figure, Robert F. Kennedy.


Attorney General Robert Kennedy testifying before a Senate subcommittee hearing on crime. U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress.

Robert Kennedy serveed on the United States Senate's McClellan Committee from 1957 to 1959. As Attorney
General, Kennedy "continued to believe that organized crime as a
bigger threat to the US political system than communism," says Crockcroft, who sees the late senator as an example of "the effect that one catalyst can have in seeing that a judical systems is effective–a true alignment of standards with ethics."

Cockcroft writes:

Bobby Kennedy made his name as a young advocate who successfully identified, through Senate hearings, the mafia links of two of the most powerful union bosses in American history: Dave Beck and Jimmy Hoffa of the Teamsters' Union, which in the 1950s had a membership of 1.5 million and dominated the trucking and related industries. . . . As a believer in the American system, Kennedy despised Hoffa for his conviction that American society was irredeemably corrupt. He feared that organized crime was spreading its tentacles from the underworld into labour relations, business and politics and that this reflected the "moral sickness of a greedy society."


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