Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has released its third annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress, entitled Beyond DeLay: The 22 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and two to watch). The report highlights the corrupt activities of each of the 25 on the list.Continue reading
Congress can get a bit contentious at times over corruption allegations - see for example this Hill article from yesterday - but at least they don't physically beat each other up over the issue as lawmakers did in Bolivia yesterday.Continue reading
Keeping track of congressional information starts at the local level, and blogs do a great job of informing people about what is happening in their own backyard. I have been reading local blogs for quite a while and have been very impressed with the coverage on local ethics issues and congressional information. So I would like to highlight every week some blogs that do a great job covering issues that deal with transparency, ethics, and corruption.Continue reading
CNN's exit polls are showing that "corruption in Washington" is extremely important for 42% of voters, the highest number for any issue. I know, they're exit polls, but almost every Congress watcher and political reporter wrote off corruption until the Mark Foley scandal broke. Were they wrong the whole time or is this a reaction to the Foley cover-up? We'll find out tomorrow, but all that I know is that these blog posts all sound about right.Continue reading
After readings Bill's post about this convetional wisdom-bucking Barron's article predicting that the Republicans will hold onto to both Houses I decided to take a look at the same numbers that they were looking at. First let's look at the campaign finance information since that's how they decided to pick the winner of each individual race. Instead of looking at the numbers of every race I decided to use the National Journal's recently released House Race Rankings. I've discounted Democratic seats that they list because we're talking about the Republican Party holding off a Democratic challenge and so I looked the defensive position of the majority party. This is based data released by the FEC on October 20, 2006 and compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.
CNN reports this morning a new poll which shows the depths to which people have come to think that Congress is corrupt.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Half of all Americans believe most members of Congress are corrupt -- a figure that has risen 12 points since the start of the year -- and more than a third think their own representative is crooked, according to a new poll released Thursday by CNN. According to the poll, a majority disapproves of how both parties are handling their jobs in Congress. Just 42 percent approve of how the Democrats are doing in Congress, while 54 percent disapprove. The GOP fares even worse -- only 36 percent approve of their performance in Congress, while 61 percent disapprove. Pollsters from Opinion Research Corp. interviewed 1,012 Americans from Friday through Sunday. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percentage points. In January, 22 percent of those polled said they believed their own member of Congress was corrupt, a number that has jumped to 36 percent since then.
Today the Hotline blog reports that scandal may be an important element in this year’s elections after all, something which I have written about here previously. The Hotline blog contrasts two possible narratives for the aftermath of a Democratic victory in the House, scandal vs. wave. If “the Dems win control by only a narrow majority, ethics scandals” affecting FL-16, OH-18, TX-22, PA-10, and NY-26 “will have provided the majority for victory.” However, a wave election would showcase a dramatic shift in the northeast including large GOP losses in upstate New York and the suburbs of Philadelphia. A wave could not be possible without many victories coming from the ethics scandal category itself.Continue reading
When the Rep. Mark Foley sexual predation scandal broke last week I thought that this would just be another sex scandal. The member resigns in disgrace, end of story. However, Foley’s Internet advances on teenage pages revealed an institutional corruption created by a leadership that favors protecting electoral majorities over protecting children from predators. The House leadership also is shown to have a disdain for pursuing investigations of any kind. This scandal continues to show that unethical behavior has not been pursued by the leadership for fear of losing their slim congressional majority.Continue reading
In the 2004 Presidential election Ohio was a crucial battleground state, its electoral votes deciding the outcome. The surge in GOP activism and the excitement in the party have since subsided due to a series of high profile corruption scandals resulting in guilty pleas by the Governor, a chief Bush fundraiser, and a sitting congressman. All of these scandals will likely depress Republican voter turnout in a state with a toss-up Senate race, an open governor’s mansion, and four close House races. Local corruption issues, just like national ones, look to have a big impact on the midterm elections in important races.Continue reading
Norm Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute and Roll Call gets all Howard Beale in his editorial today:
In all my years of watching Congress, I have never seen anything quite like what we have now. It may be a cliché, and it may be a partisan attack term, but it is also true: There is a culture of corruption across Capitol Hill. It still does not encompass the majority of Members and staffers, most of whom come here to do the right thing and to stay on the path. It may be true that the numbers of offenders, at least those directly breaking the law, are still roughly the same as in other comparable peer groups. But the problem is palpably worse. While there is plenty of illegality here — and I believe a wave of indictments will hit in the coming months — it is not what is illegal that is the outrage, to use the old phrase, but rather what is legal.Ornstein goes on to list the honest graft through earmarking of [sw: Ken Calvert] (R-Calif.), [sw: Gary Miller] (R-Calif.), and [sw: Dennis Hastert] (R-Ill.) and the abuses of campaign contributions by Vito Fossella as recent examples of this corruption.
There simply is no ethical compass here. The fact that Hastert was responsible for the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre of the House ethics committee makes his own real estate actions even more wrongheaded. I don’t want Members of Congress and staffers to live ascetic or penurious lives. Lawmakers (and judges for that matter) ought to be paid at least as much as second-year associates in big law firms. (Currently they are not.) Still, when I look at the eagerness of Members to score big perks from their lobbyist friends and to find ways to make big bucks by transactions that are related to their behavior inside Congress, I cannot find any justification in the large pay gap with their peers. Illegal or not, much of this behavior is unethical and repugnant. It underscores the deep need for a real package of ethics, earmarking and lobbying reforms—which in turn underscores the shameful and pathetic behavior of the leaders in both chambers who have failed to act and who are trying to sneak through a sham bill. They hope journalists will tire of these stories and that voters won’t notice. I hope they are wrong."I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!" Amen. Continue reading