It has to start with personal responsibility. Call it law, fiduciary responsibility, ethics, or just good management. The people in charge are responsible. This means responsibility for every person, action, and dollar.
Can these individuals avoid it legally? Maybe, or likely even probably they can. But can they avoid the wrath of public opinion or the political process to expel them? This is a higher standard.
Top-notch CEOs and presidents sometimes say things like ‘the buck stops here’ and ‘there is no one to blame but me.’ Someone has to be in charge and in Jefferson County it is the board of commissioners. The triumvirate is the CEO.
During the Rupert Murdoch phone hacking and bribery scandal James Murdoch found himself in a heap of trouble–he later resigned–because of specifics in the law. People in charge have a responsibility to know. You are guilty if you knew. If you didn’t know and, by virtue of your position you should have known, you are guilty.
And of course every employee is responsible too. It is not okay to say ‘I was simply following instructions.’ Illegal orders are illegal. One of the first times this concept was invoked was during the Nuremberg trials following World War II:
“The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.”