Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Dirty Dozen (+1)

With so many to choose from and so much corruption, how can anyone come up with just a dozen? Well, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has given it a try and even they had to go with a baker's dozen.

Tomorrow, CREW will release its list of "the 13 most corrupt members of Congress." CREW's list is mostly dedicated to more recent incidents of corrupt behavior and they leave off their nemesis, Tom Delay for reasons not made clear in their pre-announcement to the media.

The LA Times gives us a look at CREW's Dirty Dozen (+1).

"• Sen. Bill Frist: The report accuses him of violating federal campaign finance laws in how he disclosed a campaign loan. It also calls for an inquiry over his recent sale of stock in HCA Inc., his family's hospital corporation. The sale has raised questions about possible insider dealing. Frist aides confirmed Friday that the SEC was investigating. They have denied claims of campaign finance violations.

Rep. Roy Blunt: The report criticizes him for trying to insert provisions into bills that would have benefited, in one case, a client of his lobbyist son and in another case, the employer of his lobbyist girlfriend, now his wife.

Sen. Conrad Burns: The report says that questions arose over $3 million in appropriations he earmarked for an Indian tribe in Michigan that was a client of lobbyist Abramoff. The senator received substantial campaign contributions from Abramoff and various clients.

Rep. Bob Ney: The report says the chairman of the House Administration Committee went on a golf outing to Scotland in 2002, arranged by Abramoff, at a time when the congressman was trying to insert a provision into legislation to benefit one of Abramoff's tribal clients.

Ney reported to the House that the trip was paid for entirely by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, which denied paying any of the costs. Ney has said he had been duped by Abramoff.

Rep. Tom Feeney: The report says he incorrectly reported that a golf trip to Scotland with Abramoff in 2003 was paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which denied it. A Feeney aide said the congressman had been misled. Questions also have arisen about two other privately funded trips.

Rep. Richard W. Pombo: He paid his wife and brother $357,325 in campaign funds in the last four years, the report says. He also supported the wind-power industry before the Department of Interior without disclosing that his parents received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from wind-power turbines on their ranch.

Rep. Maxine Waters: The report cites a December 2004 Los Angeles Times investigation disclosing how members of the congresswoman's family have made more than $1 million in the last eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that Waters has helped. Before publication of the Times investigation last year, Waters declined to be interviewed, but said of her family members: "They do their business, and I do mine."

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.): The report says he encountered controversy over disclosures that Pennsylvania taxpayers paid for his children's schooling while they lived in Virginia. Santorum maintained he did nothing wrong, and has pulled his children out of the school, according to reports.

Reps. Randy "Duke" Cunningham and William J. Jefferson: Both congressional veterans are under federal investigation.

Cunningham, who has announced that he will not run for reelection, faces questions over his dealings with a defense contractor who allegedly overpaid him when he purchased Cunningham's house. Jefferson is under scrutiny for his role in an overseas business deal. Normally the House ethics committee does not hold inquiries while criminal investigations are underway.

Rep. Charles H. Taylor (R-N.C.): The report says that questions have been raised about his private business interests, including a savings and loan in Asheville, N.C., and personal business interests in Russia.

Rep. Marilyn N. Musgrave (R-Colo.) and Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.): Both second-term House members encountered criticisms tied to campaign activities, the report says.

Musgrave was accused of misusing her congressional office for campaign purposes. Renzi was accused of financing portions of his 2002 campaign with improper loans."

Eleven Republicans and two Democrats. If the leadership of the Democratic Party had any courage or integrity, an Ethics Complaint would be filed by a Democrat to initiate investigations of Waters and Jefferson, immediately. You can't complain about the "Republican Culture of Corruption" and ignore potential corruption from your own party.

Wouldn't evidence of Democrats raising the bar for Democrats have more impact on the public's perception of Congress than all the whining about corruption in the other party?

The American people deserve better and if the Democrats won't give them a reason to vote for them, they will stick with the crooks they know. Why can't the leadership of the Democratic Party figure this out?