Ethics: Beyond Larry Craig
Ethics: Beyond Larry Craig
Conservatives' efforts to cut ties with Craig while remaining silent over Sen. David Vitter's (R-LA) similarly lewd behavior have revealed a glaring "homophobic hypocrisy" in dealing with improper personal behavior. More importantly, it has showcased the unwillingness of lawmakers to display a similar desire to root out the existing corruption.
|SEPTEMBER 6, 2007||by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Jeremy Richmond
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Beyond Larry Craig
Conservative elected officials such as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), Sen. Norm Coleman (R-MN), Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), and others, quickly sought to distance themselves last week from Sen. Larry Craig (R) after the longtime Idaho lawmaker pled guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct. The ethically-challenged former House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay (R-TX), proudly heralded Craig’s temporary resignation as an example of conservatives’ efforts to deal with ethics issues. “You see,” DeLay explained, conservatives “kick out” lawmakers with “problems.” Yet corruption continues to stain the House and Senate chambers despite the departures of DeLay, former Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH), former Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA), and others. Conservatives’ efforts to cut ties with Craig while remaining silent over Sen. David Vitter’s (R-LA) similarly lewd behavior have revealed a glaring “homophobic hypocrisy” in dealing with improper personal behavior. More importantly, it has showcased the unwillingness of lawmakers to display a similar desire to root out the existing corruption. The Progress Report highlights just a few “problems” that persist:
ALASKA’S WILD CORRUPTION: Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) had his home “raided by the FBI this summer, and news reports also have linked Rep. Don Young (R-AK) to the public corruption probe, raising questions about the future of two men who have served Alaska for more than three decades.” Stevens’s investigation involves his efforts to steer multi-million dollar contracts to an oil company executive who also helped oversee the remodeling of Stevens’s home. Young is also being investigated for his ties to the oil company, but his troubles extend even further and involve numerous other earmarking favors he has done for his friends and allies.
LEWIS PROBE STALLED: Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), the ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee (and former chairman), is under investigation for earmarking millions of dollars in public funds for individuals who donated heavily to his political action committee. In 2006, Los Angeles federal prosecutors were in the middle of a wide-ranging investigation into Lewis. Due to a budget squeeze put on the U.S. Attorneys’ offices by Alberto Gonzales, the federal criminal investigation has stalled for nearly six months due to a lack of funds, according to former prosecutors. “The lead prosecutor on the inquiry and other lawyers departed the office, and vacancies couldn’t be filled.” Lewis recently announced that he’ll seek a 16th term, putting to rest speculation that he would retire amid the ongoing probe.
ABRAMOFF PROBE ONGOING: Rep. John Doolittle’s (R-CA) Virginia home was raided this past April by the FBI. Investigators are seeking information regarding suspicious amounts of money that he paid his wife through his political action committees. His wife, Julie Doolittle, and her company received a subpoena from the grand jury investigating Abramoff. Most recently, Doolittle’s “chief of staff and deputy chief of staff have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in a federal probe into ties between Doolittle, his wife and jailed lobbyist Jack Abramoff.” Another congressman, Rep. Tom Feeney (R-FL), was recently questioned by the FBI “about his dealings with Jack Abramoff as part of its ongoing investigation into the lobbyist convicted of defrauding clients.” Abramoff paid for Feeney’s lavish 2003 trip to Scotland. Ironically, when Doolittle stepped down from his seat on the appropriations committee due to the Abramoff investigation, conservatives replaced him with Feeney.
COLD HARD CASH: In May 2006, the FBI raided Rep. William Jefferson’s (D-LA) congressional office. In June, federal officials unveiled a 16-count indictment against him, involving allegations that Jefferson solicited bribes. He has pled not guilty, claiming he is “absolutely innocent.” Jefferson stepped down from his seat on the Small Business Committee and was stripped of his seat on the Ways and Means Committee in June 2006 due to the federal investigation. Due to his efforts to fight the indictments, Jefferson has been unable to serve as an effective representative for a district in dire need of strong representation, and he “should consider resigning for the good of his constituents.”
Responding to Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-OK) hold on “a measure mandating the screening of all veterans for suicide risk,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) promised yesterday that he would bring the bill, known as the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act, to the Senate floor for a vote.
NEW JERSEY: New Jersey police win praise for efforts to eliminate racial profiling.
LOUISIANA: New Orleans’s first inspector general begins his job with “no car, no staff, no city office, no city phone” and no clear budget.
FLORIDA: Largest budget shortfall in two decades likely to mean cuts to health care and human services.
THINK PROGRESS: House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) caught shifting his own benchmarks on escalation.
TAPPED: The U.S. military’s Iraqi civilian casualty count appears to exclude “casualties caused by U.S. action.”
POLITICAL ANIMAL: The myth of al Qaeda in Iraq.
“If you had asked me two years ago, I would have said three out of four, if you ask me now, I think it is one out of four.”
“The surge is working. … It’s a huge success!”
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