Republicans dominate watchdog’s list of ‘crooked candidates’
According to a “nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials — regardless of party affiliation,” the vast majority of “crooked candidates” running for office in 2010 hail from the GOP.
A press release sent to RAW STORY states, “Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) launched an effort to compile the most corrupt and unethical candidates vying for federal office in 2010. CREWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Crooked Candidates highlights 11 candidates with scandal-littered pasts and histories of questionable ethics.”
The list “focuses on office-seekers who have engaged in unethical and, in one case, even criminal conduct. Their misdeeds range from quid pro quo schemes to abusing state office for the benefit of friends and donors, to an obscenity charge. A few candidates even made the list because of their involvement in national political scandals: two were involved in the Abramoff investigation and one played a role in the Bush administrationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s politicization of the U.S. AttorneysÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ offices.”
“With more than 2,300 people running for office this year, CREWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s list is likely only the tip of the iceberg,” the press release notes.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“From Florida Congressman Kendrick MeekÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s shady relationship with a real estate developer to J.D. HayworthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s close ties to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, to Ed Martin destroying state records Ã¢â‚¬â€œ these 11 candidates represent the bottom of the barrel,Ã¢â‚¬Â said CREWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Executive Director Melanie Sloan. Ã¢â‚¬Å“America deserves better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
This yearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s election includes the greatest number of candidates in at least 35 years. Mirroring an electoral field that skews to the right, CREWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s list includes 8 Republicans, 2 Democrats and 1 Independent. Excluding incumbents, CREWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s research team poured over news articles, blogs and public records to identify the 11 candidates. CREWÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s list is unranked and appears in alphabetical order:
* Roy Blunt (R) U.S. Senate, MO
* Charlie Crist (I) U.S. Senate, FL
* Jeff Denham (R) U.S. House, CA
* Alvin Greene (D) U.S. Senate, SC
* Timothy Griffin (R) U.S. House, AR
* J.D. Hayworth (R) U.S. Senate, AZ
* Ed Martin (R) U.S. House, MO
* Kendrick Meek (D) U.S. Senate, FL
* Dino Rossi (R) U.S. Senate, WA
* Marco Rubio (R) U.S. Senate, FL
* Allen West (R) U.S. House, FL
The Independent candidate named by CREW, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, quit the GOP only a few months ago, after being criticized for pushing for the stimulus package, and being photographed embracing President Barack Obama.
Selections from CREW list:
In 2003, Rep. Blunt divorced his wife of 31 years to marry Philip Morris (now Altria) lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Before it was known publicly that Rep. Blunt and Ms. Perlman were dating Ã¢â‚¬â€œ and only hours after Rep. Blunt assumed the role of Majority Whip Ã¢â‚¬â€œ he tried to secretly insert a provision into Homeland Security legislation that would have benefitted Philip Morris, at the expense of competitors. Notably, Philip Morris/Altria and its subsidiaries contributed at least $217,000 to campaign committees connected to Rep. Blunt from 1996 to 2006.
Gov. Crist handpicked Jim Greer to head the Florida Republican Party. Despite multiple calls for Mr. GreerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s resignation by fellow Republicans, due to extravagant spending at the partyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s expense, Gov. Crist defended Mr. Greer. Mr. Greer is now facing six counts of grand theft, fraud and money laundering. He is accused of secretly setting up a shell company, Victory Strategies, and signing a deal that would give Victory Strategies 10% of GOP donations Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a deal that Gov. Crist allegedly approved.
While in Congress, Rep. Hayworth accepted donations to his campaign and leadership PAC from convicted lobbyist Jack AbramoffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s clients. Rep. Hayworth also used Mr. AbramoffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s skyboxes five times without reporting the costs in his Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. Rep. HayworthÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s failure to report the skyboxes as campaign contributions violated federal election law, and Rep. Hayworth was later forced to repay the skybox owners. Rep. Hayworth was later cleared of any additional wrongdoing in the Abramoff scandal.
Rep. Meek has been criticized for his relationship with developer Dennis Stackhouse, who is now awaiting trial for grand theft and organizing a scheme to defraud. Rep. Meek earmarked $1,072,750 million for Mr. StackhouseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s development project and requested an additional $4 million in earmarks for Mr. Stackhouse, which were never awarded. In addition, both Rep. Meek and his chief of staff, Anthony Williams, served on the Miami-Dade Urban Revitalization Task Force, which loaned $2.2 million to Mr. StackhouseÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s project, but Rep. Meek did not vote on that particular loan.
Some conservative critics complain that CREW is slanted to the left, partly because “CREW serves as successor counsel to Valerie Plame Wilson and Joseph Wilson “in their lawsuit against Vice President Dick Cheney, his former Chief of Staff I. Lewis Ã¢â‚¬Å“ScooterÃ¢â‚¬Â Libby, top Presidential advisor Karl Rove, former State Department Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage and other unnamed government officials” after the outing of former CIA operative Plame. The Wilsons are registered Democrats who have campaigned on the left since becoming household names during the Bush administration.