Elvis Is In The Building


Congress appears to agree with the voters of our online poll, Elvis will be spotted before they pass comprehensive ethics reform. It has been six months since the most flamboyant lobbyist in Washington caved under his own cupidity, seven months since [sw: Duke Cunningham] (R-Calif.) lost his Louis-Philippe commode, and more than two months since [sw: William Jefferson]’s (D-La.) congressional office was raided by FBI agents. In honor of these milestones and this Congress’ penchant for ignoring serious problems we should all remember those who have already fallen due to the unprecedented, and to lawmakers, unimportant, scandals sweeping the Capitol. 

The lobbying world has suffered the greatest damage so far. Abramoff and his companion Michael Scanlon both pled guilty to swindling Indian tribes and influencing government officials. Former congressional staffers turned lobbyists Neil Volz and Tony Rudy both pled guilty while former [sw: Tom DeLay] (R-Tex.) chief of staff Ed Buckham remains under investigation and [sw: Bob Ney] (R-Ohio) staffer Matthew Parker has been subpoenaed. Buckham’s lobbying firm Alexander Strategies Group closed up shop and the townhouse that served as its office was sold to Rep. [sw: Jim Ryun] (R-Kan.).

The lobbying firm Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White split up amidst an investigation into their connections to Appropriations Chair [sw: Jerry Lewis] (R-Calif.). Copeland and Jacquez, the Democratic partners, left the firm to form CJ Associates as Bill Lowery and Letitia White were being investigated for their close ties to Lewis’ earmarking. The firm misstated numerous lobbying reports misplacing a couple million dollars in lobbying fees received. Meanwhile Lowery Denton & White have lost numerous clients due to the spotlight shined on their activities. 

In Congress Bob Ney, [sw: Alan Mollohan] (D-W.Va.), and William Jefferson have been stripped of their powerful committee seats. Duke Cunningham is serving out what may be the rest of his life in prison. Tom DeLay was forced out of his position as Majority Leader and resigned days after his former chief of staff Tony Rudy pled guilty. [sw: Conrad Burns] (R-Mont.), [sw: John Doolittle] (R-Calif.), and [sw: Dennis Hastert] (R-Ill.) have all been scrutinized for their connection to Jack Abramoff. Jeff Shockey, an Appropriations Committee staffer and former lobbyist for Copeland Lowery, is under investigation for receiving a $2 million severance package that was contingent upon the future success of his former clients in securing earmarks. Former Jefferson staffer Brett Pfeffer pled guilty to conspiring to commit bribery and aiding and abetting bribery committed by an elected official.

Defense contractor Mitchell Wade pled guilty to bribing Duke Cunningham. Wade’s mentor Brent Wilkes is currently at the center of the ongoing investigation. Multiple clients of the Copeland Lowery lobby firm have had their records subpoenaed.

The executive branch has not escaped the dirty hand of corruption. The chief procurement officer in the administration David Safavian was found guilty of lying to investigators and his employer about aiding Jack Abramoff. Former deputy Secretary of the Interior J. Steven Griles was revealed to have incredibly close ties to Jack Abramoff. Three of President Bush’s top fundraisers — Abramoff, Wilkes, and Tom Noe — have pled guilty in public corruption cases. An Interior Department official who worked on the Northern Marianas Islands, a client of Abramoff, was charged with aiding the lobbyist. The number three at the CIA K. Dusty Foggo resigned amid an investigation into his connection to alleged Cunningham briber Wilkes. Porter Goss, the head of the CIA, resigned amid rumors that he was also connected to the corruption in intelligence contracting. And former White House political director and current Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman has been alleged to have kept Abramoff aware of an investigation into his activities in Guam.

All of this and Congress refuses to enact any kind of reform, to take any action against what is clearly not a passing fancy for corrupt activity but an institutional dilemma. I guess that we’re not all reformers now. As a sign of the times Tom DeLay is considering a return to Congress. Now that is all you really needed to know.