Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The New Democratic Culture of Corruption

When trying to seat a majority of Democrats to control Congress, Nancy Pelosi, in 2006, said that the then-current Republican Congress had a "culture of corruption" and was the "most corrupt" in history. As a result, she promised "transparency" and an end to corruption if she and the Democrats took control of Congress. Now, more than two years later, with the Democrats clearly in control, the corruption still reigns. This time, from the Democrats. What's worse, Pelosi seems to think her corruption is different. So different, in fact, that she has, on more than one occasion, refused to have her corrupt members of Congress step down from their committee positions and positions of authority.

Take for example, William Jefferson, a Democrat from Louisiana, who has been indicted for conspiracy, racketeering, bribery, honest services fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. In January of 2006, it was clear, based on testimonies by his aides, that Jefferson would be indicted. In addition, there were video tapes of him taking a bribe and the money was found in his freezer. Yet, Nancy Pelosi refused to boot him from his position on the extremely powerful Ways & Means Committee. Finally, under public scrutiny and pressure, she asked Jefferson to step down in May of 2006; 4-1/2 months after being clear that he was probably guilty. Jefferson refused and, then, on June 25th, the House took the extraordinary action to vote him off the committee.

Now, fast forward to last week. Charles Rangel, the Chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee (the same committee that Jefferson was one), has been exposed for tax fraud and getting gratuities in terms of low cost rental properties in Harlem. Again, while obvious that Rangel might be guilty, Pelosi has refused to ask for Rangel to step down from his committee chairmanship (See Full Story) . I am sure the public pressure will prevail and, again, Pelosi will have to succumb to the public demands and have Rangel step down.

Besides Jefferson and Rangel, there are other "corrupt Democrats" that have been caught since Pelosi promised all that "transparency" and ethics reform. There was Pelosi' good friend, John Murtha. Murtha chairs the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee. Murtha is under investigation for funneling business to certain defense contractors who were donors to his campaign. Of course, ethics is no stranger to Mr. Murtha since he was once video taped talking to FBI undercover investigators posing as Saudis and offering Murtha a bribe as part of the ABSCAM scandal. While Murtha never took a bribe his words on tape implied that the future of such action might be in the cards. If Murtha is indicted, given Pelosi's history and close friendship, do you think she as him to step down?

Other investigations are ongoing for Mary Landrieu, a Democratic Senator, for appropriating funds after receiving campaign donations. Then there is Alan Mollohon, a Democrat from West Virginia, who is being investigated for funneling earmarked monies into organizations that he has setup and that his friends are running. He also managed an earmark to create a wilderness area that happened to border land owned by the Congressman. Alan has been under investigation since 2007 and still maintains a committee chairmanship on the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, State and Related Agencies. No stepping down on this one either. Right Nancy?

Lastly, we have Laura Richardson, a Democratic Representative from California. She has defaulted on loans on eight properties that she owned. She also failed to pay some taxes on those properties. On the foreclose of her primary residence, she said that it was due to her lender not telling her of extraordinary clauses in her contract. But, when the truth finally did come out, she had failed to make payments on that home for over a year. Apparently, one of the loans that Laura Richardson got a loan on was to fund her campaign run for Congress. While her conduct on her personal finances isn't necessarily illegal there are real questions about her Congressional ethics.

So, anyway, the corruption that Pelosi said would end just keeps piling up. It really doesn't matter who's in charge, either Democrat or Republican, the power of Congress and the purse strings that it holds are always going to be ripe for corruption. There is no change from the Republicans as was promised by Pelosi in 2006. She hasn't passed any significant laws with regard to ethics. And, what's worse, she has a tendency to let her members hold committee positions unless she finally get the heat from you and me. You know.... John Q. Public, the voters!

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