Conservative group names most corrupt politicians
Thursday December 21, 2006
GOP dominates 'most corrupt' list; 'Dishonorable mentions' nearly all Democrats
The advocacy group Judicial Watch released a list today of “Washington's 'Ten Most Corrupt Politicians' for 2006.” In a final swipe at Republican leadership in the last Congress, the list, as acquired by RAW STORY, singles out more Republicans than Democrats.
Judicial Watch describes itself as "a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, [that] promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law."
This year, according to the group, six of the most corrupt Washington politicians were Republicans whose names are often identified with the scandals widely believed to have contributed to the Democratic victory in the November midterms: Lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA), Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX), Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL), Rep. Denny Hastert (R-IL), and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH).
Of the four Democrats on the list, two—Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) and Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA)—are or have been targets of significant investigations and tainted by scandal.
But the other two—Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) and Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV)—though accused by some of serious ethical breaches, are less-widely believed to be guilty of serious malfeasance.
The group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), which serves as a more liberal counterpart to Judicial Watch, releases a similar list each year. At the end of this summer, they declared that three Democrats—Jefferson, Rep. Allan Molohan (D-WV), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA)—were among the “Most Corrupt Members of Congress.” That list named a total of 20 senators and congressmen.
Both groups include a sublist of a handful of operatives whose transgressions weren't severe enough to make the official list.
However, in direct contrast their official list, Judicial Watch's list of “dishonorable mentions,” was overwhelmingly Democratic. Five Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), made the list of six politicians. Obama is included for engaging in a complicated, though seemingly legal, land deal with a South Chicago neighbor who has been indicted by a federal grand jury for influence peddling.
On the other side of the aisle, CREW's list of "members to watch" included only one Democrat: Rep. John Murtha (D-PA), who also appeared on Judicial Watch's dishonorable catalog for being an "unindicted co-conspirator in the 1980 'Abscam' scandal, which included the arrest and convictions of a senator and six congressmen." Murtha is also singled out by Judicial Watch.
A link to CREW's list is available here.
Judicial Watch's release, obtained by RAW STORY, is available below.
Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington’s
“Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for 2006
(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2006 list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The list, in alphabetical order, includes:
Jack Abramoff, Former Lobbyist – Abramoff is at the center of a massive public corruption investigation by the Department of Justice that, in the end, could involve as many as a dozen members of Congress. Abramoff pleaded guilty to conspiracy, fraud and a host of other charges on January 3, 2006, and was sent to prison in November to serve a five-year, 10-month sentence for defrauding banks of $23 million in Florida in 2000.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) – In January 2006, Hillary Clinton’s fundraising operation was fined $35,000 by the Federal Election Commission for failing to accurately report more than $700,000 in contributions to Clinton’s Senate 2000 campaign. New information also surfaced in 2006 raising more questions about Hillary and her brother Anthony Rodham’s connection to the Clinton Pardongate scandal, where presidential pardons were allegedly traded in exchange for cash and other favors.
Former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) – In November 2005, Cunningham pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. He was sentenced to 8 years, four months in prison and ordered to pay $2.8 million in restitution in March 2006.
Former Rep. Tom Delay (R-TX) – Tom DeLay, who was forced to step down from his position as House Majority Leader and then resign from Congress, decided in 2006 not to run for re-election. Congressman DeLay has been embroiled in a series of scandals from bribery to influence peddling, and was indicted twice by grand juries in Texas.
Former Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL) – Foley left the House in disgrace after news broke that he had been sending predatory homosexual emails to a House page. A recent House Ethics Committee report indicated that Republican leaders knew about Foley’s dangerous behavior, but failed to take action. Democrats, meanwhile, shopped the story to the press to influence the elections. Outrageously, the Committee recommended no punishment for those involved.
Rep. Denny Hastert (R-IL) – In addition to mishandling the Foley scandal, outgoing House Speaker Dennis Hastert allowed House ethics process to ground to a halt on his watch. Gary Condit, Cynthia McKinney, William Jefferson, John Conyers, Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Jim McDermott, Patrick Kennedy are examples of alleged wrongdoers who faced little-to-no ethics enforcement in the House.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL) – Hastings is one of only six federal judges to be removed from office through impeachment and has accumulated staggering liabilities ranging from $2,130,006 to $7,350,000. Hastings was “next in line” for Chairmanship of the House Select Committee on Intelligence until a wave of protest forced Nancy Pelosi to select another candidate. Nonetheless, Hastings is expected to continue to serve on the Intelligence Committee.
Rep. William “Dollar Bill” Jefferson (D-LA) – Jefferson is alleged to have accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help broker high-tech business deals in Nigeria. According to press reports, he was also caught on tape discussing the deals, while an FBI search of his home uncovered $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer.
Former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) – Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Ney resigned in early November 2006, three weeks after pleading guilty for accepting bribes from an Indian casino in exchange for legislative favors. Ney was the first congressman to be convicted of a crime in the web of scandals involving former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and is expected to serve a jail sentence.
Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) – Senator Reid came under fire in 2006 for failing to properly report to Congress a $700,000 land deal. Reid also accepted more than $30,000 of Abramoff-tainted money allegedly in return for his ''cooperation'' in matters related Nevada Indian gaming.
Dishonorable Mentions include:
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) – According to complaints released by the House Ethics Committee recently, aides to Representative John Conyers (D-MI) alleged their former boss repeatedly violated House ethics rules, forcing them to serve as his personal servants, valets, and as campaign staff while on the government payroll.
Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) – In May 2006, Kennedy crashed his car into a Capitol Hill barricade at nearly 3 a.m. in the morning. Kennedy blamed the incident on a reaction to prescription pills, but officers at the scene said he smelled of alcohol. Nonetheless, they escorted him home rather than arresting him.
Former Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA) – McKinney assaulted a Capitol Hill police officer in April after refusing to go through a metal detector. While McKinney was never forced to answer in a court of law for her behavior, she lost her bid for re-election in 2006.
Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) – Iraq war critic John Murtha was incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s first choice for House Majority Leader despite the ethical skeletons in his closet. Murtha is an unindicted co-conspirator in the 1980 “Abscam” scandal, which included the arrest and convictions of a senator and six congressmen. Murtha, whose current ethics continue to be questioned, lost his bid for Majority Leader to Maryland Democrat Steny Hoyer.
Sen. Barak [sic] Obama (D-IL) – News reports surfaced in 2006 that Illinois Senator Barak Obama entered into an unusual land deal with a now-indicted political fundraiser, Tony Rezko. The complicated real estate transaction occurred when it was widely known that Rezko was under federal investigation in a political corruption scandal.
David Safavian, Former Bush Administration Official – Safavian, the former White House Chief of Procurement and former Chief of Staff for the General Services Administration, was indicted on September 19, 2006 on five counts of lying about his dealings with former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and obstructing a Senate investigation of his dealings. Safavian resigned from his White House position three days prior to his arrest.
“This list shows public corruption is endemic to our nation’s capital and that the anti-corruption work of Judicial Watch is needed more than ever,” stated Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “The list could be much longer, as there are far too many politicians who abuse the public trust and place themselves above the law.”