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Lawyer Gives Ethics a Humorous Twist

Posted May 14, 2007 10:08 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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A crusading Pentagon lawyer sees the lighter side of ethical wrongdoing.

Stephen Epstein writes about the foibles and missteps of government employees with evident sarcasm in his online "Encyclopedia of Ethical Failure." Punishment, such as jail time, fines and firings, is highlighted.

Epstein is director of the Pentagon's Standards of Conduct Office, the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) reports in a profile of Epstein and his publication.

Take, for instance, the case of two Veterans Affairs employees who took kickbacks and overbilled the government. The product at the heart of the scandal, writes Epstein, was "red tape." He also notes the case of a “links-loving vice admiral” who sponsored a golf tournament on government time and the “happy family” that spent jail time together.

"We try to write the entries with a sense of humor, but the message is clear that this behavior is ruinous," Epstein told the newspaper.

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