A cliché tells us , “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you.”
Clearly by writing this blog, I’m ignoring that sage advice.
Those of you who come to my blog to learn about federal prison or to get prison advice, might be wondering what I am talking about. In a moment, you’ll understand.
My friend, client, and occasional golfing partner, Donald Gridiron, sent me an article regarding Phil Mickelson. In the article that Donald sent me, I read that Phil Mickelson agreed to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) more than $1 million dollars, including interest, after purchasing stock on an insider trading tip from renowned sports gambler Billy Walters. Further, after making money on the trade, he paid Walter’s back money that he apparently owed him.
Mickelson’s Public Relations team made all the right statements in the press, saying ” he has no desire to benefit from any transaction that the SEC views as questionable.” The matter is now closed, and the SEC will not be recommending a criminal investigation for Mickelson.
My point in writing this article is not to litigate whether Mickelson should be held criminally liable, but rather the approach that KPMG has taken.
KPMG is a corporate client of mine; hence, my comment the hand that feeds you. I’ve visited their offices in Los Angeles and I have spoken to their partners and younger associates on a handful of occasions. They have also purchased hundreds of copies of my book, Ethics in Motion.
While giving my presentations, I recall seeing a life-size poster of Phil Mickelson. The poster talks about integrity, character and honesty. In many ways, the posters are no different from the commercials Mickelson films for KPMG. In one specific commercial, Mickelson chastises a golfer who’s about to cheat by kicking his golf ball out of the bushes.
KPMG, like Michelson’s PR team, is also moving past the matter. Specifically they said, “KPMG has had a long and meaningful relationship with Phil Mickelson. While we are disappointed by what the SEC announced today, we appreciate that Phil’s statement makes clear he respects and shares the values of KPMG. We accept his statement of personal responsibility and commitment and have nothing further to add.” Rather than address his conduct, they issue a statement that wipes the slate clean.
Again, just like the U.S. Attorneys office failed to pursue justice with James Pickerstein, KPMG has also failed. Mickelson’s associations with a known gambler (who has since been indicted), should call his judgment and character into question. Further, KPMG’s statement is antithetical to the platitudes and statements they issue in the press and in their trainings. Indeed, if they truly followed their corporate culture rooted in accountability, they would immediately cut ties with Mickelson, as a number of companies, like Accenture did, with Tiger Woods. To learn more about my thoughts on Tiger Woods, please refer to chapter 1 ofEthics in Motion.
Mickelson’s status with the company, together with the revenue he provides them, is of higher value than holding him accountable. Had it been a lower level employee or spokesman I think the outcome would have been different.
Perhaps I am too cynical, and should embrace the reality that people often say one thing, then do another. I’ve been advised at times to get off my “ethical high horse” and accept that this is the just way business gets done. “Justin, you are far from perfect”, I have been told many times. Yes, I am. I guess the primary difference between people like James Pickerstein and Phil Mickelson is that people like me (and my awesome clients) are truly held accountable when we stray and cross ethical boundaries.
I love watching Mickelson play golf. I love how giving of his time he is with the kids. He signs more autographs than any other player, and he is clearly a good father and husband. I read that he was incredibly supportive of his wife who battled cancer.
That said, it doesn’t change that his behavior doesn’t comport with KPMG’s professed values. They should release him from his contract. Or, if they choose to keep him, they should rip down the platitudes posted all over their corporate offices.
P.S. I am still making my First Day In Federal Prison lesson plan available for free at www.federalprison101.com
Going To Federal Prison Hi, I am Justin Paperny. Earlier today, I filmed a video after speaking to a doctor who is about to self surrender to Fort Dix Federal Prison Camp for a 40 month prison sentence. This doctor appeared overwhelmed about how to serve his time in...
Goals of A Sentencing Narrative Yesterday, I received a call from Bob, a 24 year old salesman from Newport Beach, CA. Bob called me after watching a video I filmed, Tips From A Federal Judge On How To Get A Shorter Federal Prison Term. From the moment we began...
January 6, 2019 I've been working on a white collar crime show with a writer and executive producer I respect. Odds of bringing a new show to market are low. Still, it happened once with the movie I made with NBC Universal and Esquire. If it were to happen again, this...
Does it seem like a good idea to surrender drunk to federal prison? If you think the answer is yes, we have a problem. Why? Yesterday, I received a call from a wife whose husband is in prison. Apparently, some consultant told this defendant to show up to prison drunk....
For many months I have been sharing my thoughts on the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen cases. Now that Michael Cohen has been sentenced to federal prison a number of media outlets are reaching out to me get my advice and thoughts on Cohen's 36 month prison term. Where...
November 24, 2018 For transparency, I filmed this video with Learned Jay Hand nearly a month ago. Work, family responsibilities and the Los Angeles fires delayed me from posting this video. I am pleased to report that Jay is doing incredibly well at Butner Federal...