The story has been out for months regarding potential fraudulent activities of House Representative Peter Beck, involving the mismanagement of over $1 million in investor funds. But this morning, the news was taken to another level, with the expected indictment of Rep. Beck by a Hamilton County grand jury:
Multiple Dispatch sources confirmed that a Hamilton County grand jury is expected to hand up indictments today against Beck, 60, a certified public accountant from Mason who was appointed to the House in September 2009 and won election twice since then…
Details of the indictments were not available, though Beck has been under investigation for months by the Ohio Department of Commerce’s Division of Securities, related to his alleged involvement in a scheme that cost business investors about $1.2 million.
I certainly have not seen all the evidence in the case, and the American judicial system demands that all be treated as innocent until proven guilty (well, unless you’re George Zimmerman). That said, however, the facts laid out in Siegel’s article, in regards to the shuffling of dollars for political and personal purposes, show a level of shadiness that is unbecoming of a state legislator.
It’s up to the court system to decide whether or not it rises to the level of criminal illegality, proven beyond a reasonable doubt, but simple ethics and morality do not require such a burden of proof. One rarely gets indicted on criminal charges without some form of unclean hands and the court of public opinion tends to agree.
Heck, his own CPA firm tossed him out a year ago.
Months ago, we condemned the unethical actions of another state representative (though our liberal counterparts never mentioned it) and while those seemed much worse—trading cash for legislative favors—both cases taint the legislature and have no place in the democratic process. Ethical responsibility knows no party. And it is in that light that I believe Rep. Beck should step down from his elected office.
In the end, Rep. Beck may be innocent, and his resignation from office would allow him to focus his attention on proving as much. But his continued representation in the Ohio House does a disservice to making that case, as well as to the ethical standards to which we should hold all elected officials.