August 26, 2010; Source: New Zealand Herald | In U.S. coverage of nonprofits, we often fall prey to two kinds of American exceptionalism—the good and bad. One theme we’ve covered frequently is the penchant for U.S. politicians to, ahem, become “involved” with nonprofits.

This article from the New Zealand Herald suggests that there are “involved” counterparts elsewhere in the world. Five-term member of the New Zealand parliament, Roger McClay, was sentenced to 300 hours of community work for having defrauded two charities of $25,000, mostly by double dipping—from nonprofits such as World Vision and Keep New Zealand Beautiful.

McClay had charged the charities for travel expenditures when his travel was actually paid for by the government. He had been the chair of Keep New Zealand Beautiful, so the Judge decided that McClay’s community service should include picking up litter or cleaning graffiti.

For McClay, explanations and repentance aren’t in the cards. He neither apologized to the public nor the nonprofits for his inexplicable behavior. The man’s reputation and career are shredded due to clipping nonprofits for penny ante travel reimbursements. Go figure why politicians would risk all like this, in New Zealand or in the States.—Rick Cohen