Since the beginning of the 2005 Jack Abramoff and Duke Cunningham investigations the Justice Department has seen a beefed up Public Integrity Unit dig into a series of scandals involving congressmen, lobbyists, and other public officials. Roll Call reports today that the Justice Department and the Federal Election Commission are pursuing a new rack of investigations into the improper use of campaign funds by a number of campaigns. Thanks to the ever growing amount of money pouring into campaigns this cycle the Justice Department and the FEC are finding embezzlement, theft, and improper payments to be at an all-time high:
In an interview with Roll Call on Monday, Mason elaborated on his statements last week, indicating that half of the agency’s 10 embezzlement cases involve candidate committees, while three involve political action committees and two are political party cases. Of the five candidate committees, he said three belong to first-time candidates. The FEC investigations more than likely involve staffers or volunteers who appear to have stolen money from the campaigns.Continue reading
Quick addition: USA Today reached the same opinion of Stevens today as well.
According to public records and officials in Alaska, The Hill reports that Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) "has quietly steered millions of federal dollars to a sportfishing industry group founded by Bob Penney, a longtime friend who helped the Alaska Republican profit from a lucrative land deal." While the FBI, and possibly a jury, will decide if Stevens has abused his official position it is clear enough that the senior Senator has acted in a manner that is unethical for a United States Senator and a powerful committee chairman (yesterday I wrote that Stevens is the Appropriations ranking member, he is actually ranking member on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, the second ranking member on Appropriations, and the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee ranking member).
Despite the mounting evidence against Stevens he continues to have the support of the Republican leadership and has not been stripped of his committee assignments. Sen. Larry Craig was stripped of his committee assignments and forced to resign (although he is now reconsidering) because he engaged in potentially lewd conduct that was not of the party sanctioned variety. What is more important, sexual, or potentially sexual, behavior or the betrayal of trust and abuse of official, elected positions to gain money and aid your rich buddies? I've seen this scale before and I know which way it should be tilting.Continue reading
Over the past week or two I’ve learned two things: do not tap your foot in the bathroom and that prudery is more prevalent on Capitol Hill than a true ethical fiber. Apparently it is more worrying that a Senator may be a deeply closeted gay man than it is that another Senator is deeply tied into a massive FBI-led corruption investigation or that a senior congressman is being investigated for perhaps the shadiest earmark ever. I read this article by Norm Ornstein today and couldn’t agree more with what he has to say. With so many corruption scandals, not just tawdry sex scandals, “Who believes that the ethics committee will act proactively to investigate allegedly scandalous behavior before stories garner headlines or result in announcements by prosecutors that Senators are targets or subjects of investigations?”Continue reading
What happens when you combine the last two posts by Bill and myself? You get a story like this one from John Bresnahan at the Politico:
"Republican Sen. Ted Stevens, whose home back in Alaska was raided by federal investigators Monday in a wide-ranging corruption investigation, has threatened to place a hold on the Democratic-drafted ethics legislation just passed by the House and expected on the Senate floor by week’s end.
The senator told a closed session of fellow Republicans today, including Vice President Dick Cheney, that he was upset that the measure would interfere with his travel to and from Alaska – and vowed to block it."
Sen. Stevens' is apparently upset that lobbyists will no longer be able to freely ferrett him from Washington to Alaska. He is concerned that he may have to use some of those millions of dollars which he obtained with Bob Penney and Bill Allen to actually - gasp - pay for his own travel.
Sen. Stevens could always just stay in Alaska.Continue reading