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The ultimate cost of opposing corruption

In the spring of 2016 the world learned about the “Panama Papers”, more than a million leaked documents from powerful law firm Mossack Fonseca that showed money laundering and corruption of hundreds of the wealthiest families in the world. The leak report titled “The Revolution Will Be Digitised” exposed the ways that financial corruption is being used to widen the wealth gap between the rich and the rest of us. It swayed my opinions on some financial issues here in the U.S. The data was so massive that reporters recruited other reporters in different nations to sift through and investigate the details.

Caruana Galizia was one of the reporters in that investigation in her country of Malta. Yesterday she was killed by car bomb. She notified police weeks ago that she had received threats. The killing is denounced worldwide as a political murder but it is not clear whether the killing was in retaliation for the Panama Papers or some of her more recent political writings.

I am sensitive to the issue based on my own story here in New Jersey where I was intentionally struck by a truck in front of my own house in a ‘hit’ attempt in 2006. I had exposed political corruption in Downe Township NJ and urged my neighbors in my small community of Money Island to become active in demanding action. As the assailant drove away from my house he yelled that he was avenging one of the local politicians I had exposed. Those on the scene hear him yell “What the f* did you expect you’d get for opposing (politician)”. Another witnesses said the driver had met with that politician just minutes before the hit. The driver announced to an employee before getting into his truck to make the hit that he may be going to jail that night and that the employee would have to lock up their shop. During the subsequent investigation, it came out that the driver and politician had at least one earlier conversation overheard by a witness to “take me out”. I later learned that I survived the hit attempt only because the driver was too drunk and high to effectively carry it out. Just like Galizia, I had reported receiving death threats to the police in the weeks before the hit. The police did not investigate. Neither the driver nor the political were ever prosecuted even after a grand jury indictment for vehicular assault. It appears to me to be a combination of corruption and incompetence in Cumberland County NJ.

So I am well aware of the real dangers of reporting political corruption. I lost years during the slow recovery from injuries but I kept my life. Not so for Ms. Galizia. RIP.

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