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Nothing Beats a Little Petty Graft

By Matthew Yglesias

"Nothing Beats a Little Petty Graft"

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One of the odd things about appointing Paul Wolfowitz to head the World Bank was that one of DC’s open secrets was that his girlfriend Shaha Riza worked there in the communications department. As Murray Waas reports, “Bank regulations disallow bank employees from supervising spouses or romantic partners, but Wolfowitz reportedly attempted to circumvent the rules so he would be able to continue to work with Riza.” Then, in September 2005 the problem was solved by detailing Riza to the public diplomacy office in Foggy Bottom with her salary still paid by the World Bank. Then things get weird:

Before she was detailed over to the State Department, Riza was earning $132,660, according to bank records obtained by the Governmental Accountability Project. Had the bank’s board adhered to its ordinary rules, as Riza was shifted over to the State Department, she should have only been eligible for a raise of about $20,000. Instead she was given a raise of $47,340, whereupon her salary became $180,000. Then last year, she received yet another raise which brought her salary to $193,000. That salary increase not only meant that Riza earned more than Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but apparently made her the single highest paid State Department official.

And, of course, the whole reason Wolfowitz even has the job in the first place is simply that the administration was looking for a “nice” way to kick him to the curb. After all, nobody who George W. Bush cares about is counting on a well-run World Bank to improve his or her life.

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