Ex-Im’s Invitation to Corruption

When government has a lot of money and power, it is natural for people to curry its favor. It is just as natural for those wielding money and power to use it for personal gain. The Export-Import Bank has just provided the latest real-world example of this human frailty. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that four Ex-Im employees have been removed or suspended in recent months, “amid investigations into allegations of gifts and kickbacks.”

The article names one employee, Johnny Gutierrez, who accepted cash payments from an executive of Impex Associates, a construction equipment manufacturer that has received Ex-Im financing on multiple occasions. The other cases involve two “allegations of improperly awarding contracts to help run the agency,” and another employee who accepted gifts from an Ex-Im suitor. A spokesman responded to the allegations by noting that “the Export-Import Bank takes extremely seriously its commitment to taxpayers and its mission to support U.S. jobs.”

These are not isolated incidents. Over at the Daily Signal, Diane Katz notes that 74 potential cases of fraud have occurred since April 2009, just five years ago. For an agency with only 400 employees, this is a very serious problem.

These corruption allegations offer another reason to end the Export-Import Bank. Fortunately, the Bank’s charter expires on September 30. If Congress doesn’t vote to extend that charter, the Bank will automatically cease to exist, and the Treasury Department will wind down Ex-Im’s $140 billion portfolio.

With Ex-Im gone, companies would spend a little less time wooing government officials, and more time actually creating value for consumers. Getting rid of Ex-Im wouldn’t just help the economy, it would remove one of Washington’s numerous opportunities for corruption.