It is an understandable thing that occasionally there would be someone in public office that is less that forthright in their personal and political dealings. However, today’s crop is outstanding by anyone’s count. Who do you think deserves recognition in a list of the “Biggest Crooks in Congress”?
We have had congressmen that participate in making the laws that the rest of us have to abide by that have been caught participating in everything including fraud, prostitution, bribery, public drunkenness, involuntary manslaughter, et al. Yet, they continue to “serve”. What is even worse is when their buddies in congress know about their corruption and vote to protect them. Corruption is not restricted to political party and over the years there have been notorious examples on both sides of the aisle.
Former Congressman William Jefferson is a great example of both corruption and cronyism. Caught with $90K of “cool cash” bribe money stashed in his refrigerator he was defended by the Democratic leadership for months after being indited while investigations dragged on leading to his eventual conviction in August of this year. Others under indictment for felonies or misdemeanors have been allowed to retain their congressional leadership roles for months, or years while they continue writing the rules for the rest of us “little people”.
But lets concentrate here only on the crooks currently in congress? Charlie Rangle is a great example, sometimes known as “Tax Cheat Charley”. As chairman of the powerful house ways and means committee he writes the tax law for the rest of us. Recently he has been shown to have concealed about half of his income from the IRS and from congressional disclosure rules. When discovered he simply explained away his 2 1/2 Million dollar omission as a minor slip and the IRS then allowed him to pay the additional taxes without any penalty, interest, or legal charges. Had this been you are me do you think we would have been treated so well? In addition in his home district he has four rent controlled apartments which are restricted as a “one to a customer ” basis as a subsidy for low income persons for their personal residence. These four apartments are used as his political offices, but each is claimed as his “primary residence” on government forms to get the rent subsidy. For these rent subsidized apartments the taxpayer is helping to the tune of thousands of dollars a month so he can live high in Harlem on less than half what his neighbors pay.
Recently CBS 2, a local news source reported that since ethics probes began last year the 79-year-old congressman has given campaign donations to 119 members of Congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are specifically charged with investigating him. Charlie’s “angels” on the House committee include Congressmen Ben Chandler of Kentucky, G.K. Butterfield of North Carolina and Peter Welch of Vermont. All have received donations from Rangel – reportedly $20K plus each!
John Murtha, a 19 term member of the house has been under investigation for numerous schemes involving accepting donations to his campaign and political action committees in direct exchange for earmarking federal funds for those same organizations. Then there is the pesky little charge of his slandering of US military personnel serving in Iraq by making public statements on national TV accusing those servicemen of murder! Investigations later showed those charges to be unfounded, but while our servicemen were slandered and their careers damaged Murtha gets reelected! It becomes even more onerous when you include the incidents of his chief of staff’s apparent threats to a political opponent on Murtha’s behalf. Kinda tacky in a democratic society wouldn’t you think. What about the John Murtha airport in his home district. Paid for by public money it is a first class commercial airport with only three flights a day – all of them to Washington DC! Over 200 million dollars in federal subsidies later an amendment was entered to delete the special federal subsidies for it. Even though this is a shameful waste of public funds that benefit almost no one but Murtha and his cronies, the amendment failed. Good Old Boy politics wins again! Atta boy John.
Maxine Waters the congresswoman from California, failed to disclose her financial ties to OneUnited Bank to Treasury officials when requesting meetings between regulators and bank officials. Although OneUnited had previously requested a meeting with Treasury, it wasn’t until Rep. Waters intervened that the Treasury approved such a meeting. By using her position as a member of Congress to assist a bank to which she has personal financial ties, Rep. Waters violated conflict-of-interest rules. Apparently, similar such dealings have happened with her bank connection in the past as well.
Why do you think politicians can spend millions of dollars on a campaign for jobs that pay less than half a million a year? How do you suppose that they can increase their net worth by tens of millions of dollars during a two, four, or six year term that pays a measly $200 to $400 thousand a year? These things are commonplace in todays Washington reality show.
So just why do we have these crooks in congress? Well it is apparently because we the voters keep on sending them back time after time. We need term limits in Congress and we need voters to recognize political pigs and kick them away from the trough on a regular basis. To fail to do so places higher and higher burdens on our economy that is leading our nation into destruction.
In a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton back in in 1887 The historian and moralist, Lord Acton stated “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely…” So it is on a daily basis in Washington.
The longer our politicians reside in DC the more power they attain. With numerous lobbyists for every representative they find more temptations to work for persons other than the people of the United States. In Nov 2010 we will have the opportunity to retire a bunch of the crooks in congress on both sides of the aisle. We had better not miss the opportunity like we have been doing in past years.
Take the poll on which you think is the biggest crook in congress. If you have another nomination, leave a comment on who you think deserves the recognition and why.