The Edmond Sun


January 24, 2014

Outrageous liars continue to damage taxpayers’ trust

EDMOND — Forty-two years ago last week, writer Clifford Irving gave an interview to the news program “60 Minutes.” During that interview, Irving told a series of gross, blatant, easily disprovable lies. Irving was peddling a bogus autobiography of reclusive millionaire Howard Hughes. According to Irving’s story, he had a series of bizarre, face-to-face meetings with Mr. Hughes during which the eccentric tycoon related his life story and authorized Irving to oversee its publication.

In fact, Irving never even met Howard Hughes. Even so, he managed to defraud his publisher out of an advance in excess of $700,000. Within days of Irving’s televised interview, Hughes, himself, exposed the lie in a telephone interview in which he completely debunked Irving’s story. As the evidence of his fraud grew to insurmountable proportions, Irving ultimately confessed, pleaded guilty to federal charges and did some prison time. Back then, most of us were astounded that anyone would have the gall to face a battery of television cameras and tell such easily exposed whoppers.

Of course, none of us is a stranger to lies. At some time in everyone’s life they are bound to find some reason to make a knowing misstatement. In fact, Mark Twain once observed, “lies are an abomination unto the Lord and a very present help in time of trouble.” But Irving had elevated the “bald-faced lie” to a level most of us had never even contemplated.

A headline appearing in the Washington Times has me thinking about Irving’s case. According to the Jan. 22 issue of that paper, John Beale, a highly placed administrator in the Environmental Protection Agency has been fleecing the American taxpayers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars for years. Sadly, we have grown accustomed to being robbed by federal bureaucrats.

What makes Beale’s case unusual is the fact he persuaded his superiors to continue to write paychecks while he was absent from the office by telling them a blatant, easily dis-provable lie. He told them he was on important assignments for the CIA and no one bothered to check. Apparently, Mr. Beale collected nearly $1 million of taxpayer money while he simply “loafed off” enjoying his private pursuits. According to one estimate, his paid time off amounted to approximately 2 ? years.

In recent years, good-natured Americans have been deceived by a string of shameless high-profile liars. We’ve been lied to by presidents, high-profile evangelists, revered sports figures, esteemed senators and representatives, sanctimonious clergymen, deceitful bureaucrats, trusted managers of charitable organizations and a host of others. In fact, blatant lying has become so commonplace that the latest scandal barely causes a blip on the social anxiety scale.

It really doesn’t pay to wonder for every liar who gets caught, how many get away with it?

One reason lying seems to be more common these days is that the consequences, if the liar is unfortunate enough to be exposed, are often so trivial. Many of the most outrageous liars in our history successfully weather the storm and maneuver themselves in position to tell us even more lies. We could point to a number of former presidents, senators and televangelists.

So how did Beale get away with it? He says it was easy. He credits his high level of competence, his ability to charm and disarm his colleagues and superiors, his resourceful crafting of a bogus but plausible story.

Taxpayers who faithfully forward their hard-earned money to the federal government year after year should be asking themselves, “Who’s minding the store?” In the absence of culpable complicity, gross incompetence or blatant nepotism, this would never happen in private business.

So how could it happen here? How could Beale continue to draw retention bonuses year after year when those bonuses were to expire in 2003? How could Beale continue to draw his paycheck for another 18 months after his retirement? How could Beale finagle a handicap parking sticker claiming to suffer from the lingering effects of malaria allegedly contracted in Vietnam when he never served in Vietnam? Why did no one ever asked for written confirmation that he was absent from the office on CIA business?

It is unlikely that any supervisory personnel at the EPA will be called to account for Beale’s fraudulent behavior. He, himself, pled guilty to his crimes and was sentenced to 32 months in prison.

There is one point on which we can trust Beale is telling the truth. When asked whether his wife will help repay the money he scammed from the taxpayers he says, “No, not a chance.” You can probably take that to the bank. I’m Hink and I’ll see ya.

MIKE HINKLE is a retired attorney and Edmond resident.

Text Only
  • New Orleans features its own “Running of the Bulls”

    On July12, the streets of the Warehouse District of New Orleans were filled with thousands of young men who were seeking to avoid being hit with plastic bats wielded by women on roller skates as part of the annual “Running of the Bulls” that takes place in New Orleans.
    The event is based on the “Running of the Bulls” that occurs in Pamplona, Spain, that is  part of an annual occurrence in which a group of bulls rampage through the streets of Pamplona while men run from them to avoid being gored by their sharp horns. That event was introduced to the English-speaking world by Ernest Hemingway, who included scenes from it in his critically acclaimed 1926 novel “The Sun also Rises.”

    July 22, 2014

  • OTHER VIEW: Newsday: Lapses on deadly diseases demand explanation

    When we heard that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had created a potentially lethal safety risk by improperly sending deadly pathogens — like anthrax — to other laboratories around the country, our first reaction was disbelief.

    July 22, 2014

  • Holding government accountable for open meeting violations

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the recent success of three important government transparency proposals which will go into law this year.

    July 21, 2014

  • GUEST OPINION — Oklahoma GOP voters want educational choices

    A Braun Research survey released in January showed that Oklahoma voters — Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike — favor parental choice in education.

    July 21, 2014

  • HEY HINK: IRS interferes with citizens’ rights of free speech

    The patient is gravely ill. We have detected traces of a deadly venom in the bloodstream. We don’t know how widespread the poison is, but we know, if not counteracted, toxins of this kind can rot the patient’s vital organs and could ultimately prove fatal.

    July 19, 2014

  • 130408_NT_BEA_good kids We're raising a generation of timid kids

    A week ago, a woman was charged with leaving her child in the car while she went into a store. Her 11-year-old child. This week, a woman was arrested for allowing her 9-year-old daughter to go to the park alone. Which raises just one question: America, what the heck is wrong with you?

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • RedBlueAmerica: What should the U.S. do about illegal immigrant children?

    The crisis along the southern U.S. border has politicians and immigration officials scrambling. More than 52,000 children, mostly from Central American nations, have arrived so far this year. The Department of Homeland Security is running out of space to hold them all.
    President Barack Obama is asking Congress for $3.7 billion in borrowed money from taxpayers to cover the growing “care, feeding and transportation costs of unaccompanied children and family groups” when our own veterans are not taken care of. Texas Gov. Rick Perry criticized the president’s plan, saying more money should go toward securing the border.

    July 17, 2014

  • VA scandal highlights the need to change Pentagon spending priorities

    The ongoing Department of Veterans Affairs scandal raises an important question: When our veterans are being denied access to basic health care, why is the Pentagon squandering billions of dollars on programs that do not benefit our military forces? Is there a link in organization attitudes?

    July 16, 2014

  • For better politics, it’s time for some raging moderates

    Like more than 20 percent of my fellow Californians, I am now classified as a no-party-preference voter, registered to vote but with no affiliation to any of the state’s political parties.
    I am for lower taxes and for marriage equality. I am tough on crime and I am anti-abortion. I believe that a pathway to citizenship is a necessary part of immigration reform and that student test scores should be a critical component of teacher evaluations.

    July 15, 2014

  • Father on mission to stop gun violence

    Since his son died six weeks ago as collateral damage to a troubled young man’s wish for vengeance, Richard Martinez has been asked whom he holds responsible.
    “I’m responsible,” the California lawyer answers, referring to most Americans’ failure to push harder to change gun laws after earlier mass shootings. “All those kids died and none of us did anything.”

    July 14, 2014


If the Republican runoff for the 5th District congressional seat were today, which candidate would you vote for?

Patrice Douglas
Steve Russell
     View Results