Professor Researches Valley Corruption Culture

Posted: Updated: Feb 08, 2018 11:23 PM

EDINBURG – Power, position and politics play a role in Rio Grande Valley corruption. Corrupt officials can abuse the system.

A University of Texas Rio Grande Valley professor is researching corruption. She wants to know why political corruption happens here and why so often.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS learned it’s often fear that keeps those helped by political wrongdoing from coming forward. Objective Watchers of the Legal System member Fern McClaugherty says sometimes those who commit dirty deeds have a conscious.

"I get letters in the mail that has no name but they tell us please this is happening can you help,” she said. 

McClaugherty said the anonymous who speak out have participated in Valley corruption.

"We've been told by people what they've done. Of course, they won't come out of the shadows because they benefited from it and its crime so. They are not going to speak. We do know that it happens we just can't prove it,” said McClaugherty.

McClaugherty was once accused of political corruption when she was running in the Edinburg Councilmember Place 1 race.

"I was accused of having contracts stealing taxpayers’ money,” said McClaugherty.

She said it was a false accusation. She's still looking for answers about what led to the accusations.

UTRGV Assistant Political Science Professor Sylvia Gonzalez-Gorman is also looking for answers. She started a study on Valley corruption last year.

"I got a big study going on with the Rio Grande Valley. In what we're trying to figure out is what causes that person to take that turn,” said Gonzalez-Gorman.

The number of those in power, including law enforcement, judges and others, is great.

"I think without putting an actual number to it, we could be well over a hundred just in the last five years,” said Gonzalez-Gorman.

Gonzalez-Gorman explained the Valley is part of a corruption culture.

"Forming partnerships is a quick pro quo. I do something for you, you do something for me is acceptable,” she said. 

She said it's an underground economy due to our location near the border.

"Yes, this secondary economy is rooted in drugs and the Valley's proximity to Mexico and the criminal organizations that play a part in local government corruption,” said Gonzalez-Gorman.

This compliance is something McClaugherty wants to change.

"It's certainly not for the glory because what's the glory in cheating? It's got to be the power. If someone else has a better answer please call me,” said McClaugherty.

Gonzalez-Gorman wants the research she's doing to be used to find answers to the possibility it will help politicians and others find solutions.

The professor plans to complete her research project in about four months.

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