- Politics and Social Issues
The Odor From Capitol Hill--It Ain't Sweet!
Tom DeLay--the smiling exterminator
Jack Abramoff--GOP Lobbyist in jail for corruption
Democrat Congressman from New Orleans, William Jefferson
GOP Speaker of the House, Dennis the Menace Hastert
Congressman Bob Ney, bribed by Jack Abramoff, still on the House Payroll
The Washington Culture of Corruption--Pre-election Scandal Smorgasbord
"As predicaments go for champions of family values, few can top the embarrassment suffered by Representative Curt Weldon when federal agents raided the home of his daughter, a Washington lobbyist, in search of evidence that the powerful lawmaker helped her with lucrative clients. The grand jury is still out on the investigation, and Mr. Weldon, a Pennslyvania Republican, says he is innocent. But with each fresh scandal, the tattooing of the G.O.P.-run 109th Congress continues in pre-election polls.
Voters had not sooner adjusted to the shock of seeing Representative Mark Foley, Republican of Florida, disgraced from office by his come-ons to Congressional pages than Bob Ney took his turn on the pre-election scandal smorgasbord. Representative Ney, Republican of Ohio, pleaded guilty to being a principal in the quid-pro-quo insiders' market run by Jack Abramoff, the corrupt Republican lobbyist who is cooperating with investigators about his ties to Congress and the White House. Another Republican, former Representative Randy Cunningham of California, is already doing time. He sold his office in steering $70 million in contracts to companies that offered bribes ranging from a Rolls-Royce to a carpet emblazoned "Global War on Terror."
"It should be remembered that Speaker Dennis Hastert, now under fire in the Foley scandal, helped dampen any chance of in-House ethical controls in his failed attempt to save the career of former Majority Leader Tom DeLay, an Abramoff ally who is accused of political money laundering and is awaiting trial. The sight of the ossified ethics comnmittee forced back to life by the Foley scandal is more pathethic than heartening. It's small woner that lawmakers feel empowered to make ethical stretches--like Representative John Doolittle's boosting his won family's value by having his wife designated a consultant and paying her a 15 percent commission off the top of his campaign kitty.
"The hustings ring with Democrats' vows to restore ethical spine. But the minority has its own problem in Representative William Jefferson of Louisiana, who is accused of taking bribe money and hiding it in his home freezer. And Democrats are not helped when their Senate leader, Harry Reid of Nevada, amends his ethics filings to better report a real estate windfall, and misuses campaign money to pay helpers at his Washington condo.
"The G.O.P. leaders have themselves to blame for their multiple millstones. If they had passed actual ethics reform, instead of deep-sixing it in bromides, there could have been a believable independent corruption office to take some of the heat off their current plight as compromised self-investigatiors. (One of the compromised reforms would have denied pensions to lawmakers convicted of official abuses. Instead, Messrs. Cunningham and Ney are likely to keep collecting behind bars.)
"Congressmen caught in wrongdoing at this time of year like to complain that they're the victims of election-eve politics. If the looming elections inspire whistleblower, we say bravo. The prospect of voting day fills the vacuum created by the absence of an actual set of enforceable ethics rules in Congress."
[Top NYTimes editorial, October 18, 2006,]