Only Ten? I would estimate that 99% of those in Congress are corrupt.
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2010 list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The list, in alphabetical order, includes: Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Rahm Emanuel, Former Obama White House Chief of Staff, Senator John Ensign (R-NV), Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL), President Barack Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY), and Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA).
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) is Chair of the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. But it appears she still needs an ethics lesson. Boxer presided over a year-long investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee into whether two of her Senate colleagues, Christopher Dodd (D-CT) and Kent Conrad (D-ND), received preferential treatment from Countrywide Financial as part of the company’s “VIP” program. (Senate ethics rules prohibit members from receiving loan terms not available to the general public.) In fact, according to The Associated Press, during an Ethics Committee hearing Boxer asked “the bulk of the questions.”
However, Boxer failed to mention (or disclose on her official Senate Financial Disclosure documents) that she and her husband have signed no less than seven mortgages with Countrywide! At the time of the hearing, Boxer reportedly indicated she had paid off two Countrywide mortgages, but did not mention the others.
The evidence clearly showed that Dodd and Conrad knew they were receiving preferential treatment despite repeated denials. Yet Boxer’s Senate Ethics Committee allowed Dodd and Conrad to wriggle off the hook with a light admonition that suggested the two Senators should have exercised better judgment. The same, apparently, can be said of the Committee’s own chair, who either neglected to mention or outright lied about her own dealings with the corrupt mortgage company.
Rahm Emanuel, Former Obama White House Chief of Staff didn’t earn the nickname “Rahmbo” for being a mild-mannered shrinking violet. He served as Bill Clinton’s chief money-man at a time when the Clinton campaign was corrupted by foreign money. He defended the “worst of the worst” Clinton scandals, and, in fact, earned his reputation as a ruthless political combatant by fiercely defending President Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky investigation. (Notably, Emanuel also served on the board of Freddie Mac when the company was involved in fraudulent activity.)
The bottom line is that when the Clintons’ dirty work needed to be done, Emanuel did it and apparently without question. That didn’t change under Obama. Remember when the Obama White House wanted to manipulate Democratic primaries in 2010?
Emanuel teamed with his then-Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina to allegedly interfere with Senate elections in Pennsylvania and Colorado by offering federal appointments to Rep. Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff. Sestak and Romanoff were not Obama’s favored candidates, so Emanuel and Messina apparently attempted to unlawfully persuade them to abandon their campaigns.
A Judicial Watch complaint to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel on June 15, 2010, tells the story: “As widely reported in the media, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, on behalf of the Obama Administration, have both used their position and influence as highly placed federal employees to affect the outcome of federal elections in direct violation of the Hatch Act, which states that an employee may not ‘use his official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.’”
And then, of course, there’s Emanuel’s participation in the Blagojevich scandal.
According to sworn testimony during the “Blago” trial, Emanuel served as Obama’s chief negotiator with the Blagojevich team as the former Illinois Governor attempted to illegally sell Obama’s former Senate seat to the highest bidder. Unfortunately, the federal prosecutor cut short the case against Blagojevich and Emanuel and other Obama insiders were never called to testify.
Emanuel left the White House under an ethical cloud and has decided to throw his hat in the ring for Mayor of Chicago, where he again stands accused of ignoring the rules and violating the law regarding candidate residency requirements.
Senator John Ensign (R-NV): In a scandal that first broke in 2009, Senator Ensign publicly admitted to an affair with the wife of a long-time staffer. And the evidence indicates Ensign then tried to cover up his sexual shenanigans by bribing the couple with lucrative gifts and political favors.
According to The New York Times, after Ensign’s aide, Douglas Hampton, discovered the affair, “Mr. Ensign asked political backers to find a job for…Hampton. Payments of $96,000 to the Hamptons also were made by Senator Ensign’s parents, who insist this was a gift, not hush money. Once a lobbying job was secured, Senator Ensign and his chief of staff continued to help Mr. Hampton, advocating his clients’ cases directly with federal agencies.”
These lobbying activities were seemingly in violation of the Senate’s “cooling off” period for lobbyists. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Under Senate rules, former Senate aides cannot lobby their former colleagues for one year after leaving Capitol Hill.” Hampton began to lobby Mr. Ensign’s office immediately upon leaving his congressional job.
Ensign seems to have ignored the law and allowed Hampton lobbying access to his office as a payment for his silence about the affair. And despite the claims of Ensign and his parents, the $96,000 in “gifts” provided to the Hamptons were clearly hush payments.
Nonetheless, on December 1, 2010, the Obama Justice Department announced it will file no criminal charges against Ensign, while the Federal Election Commission has also dismissed a related ethics complaint. If there is to be justice for Ensign, it will have to be up to the corrupt (see Boxer entry above) Senate Ethics Committee, which is still considering the charges against the Nevada Republican.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): In a story that continued to mushroom throughout 2010, Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) improperly intervened for Maxine Waters (D-CA) on behalf of his home-state OneUnited Bank to obtain Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds. When asked about the scandal, the Massachusetts Democrat admitted he spoke to a “federal regulator” but, according to The Wall Street Journal he didn’t remember which federal regulator he spoke with.” According to explosive Treasury Department emails uncovered by Judicial Watch in 2010, however, it appears this nameless bureaucrat was none other than then-Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson!
While Frank’s “partner in crime” in the OneUnited scandal, Congressman Maxine Waters, is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee (see below), Frank’s colleagues in the House have inexcusably ignored the Massachusetts Democrat’s connection to the OneUnited grant.
To this day, Barney Frank continues to defend his role in the meltdown of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, saying he was just as blindsided as the rest of America when the two government sponsored enterprises collapsed, triggering the financial crisis. Frank has been peddling this fiction ever since the economy collapsed in September 2008. But, as The Boston Globe reported in a devastating article published on October 14, 2010, not many people are buying Frank’s lies anymore. And Frank knows it. Here’s an excerpt from the Globe:
The issue…in 2003 was whether mortgage backers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were fiscally strong. Frank declared with his trademark confidence that they were, accusing critics and regulators of exaggerating threats to Fannie’s and Freddie’s financial integrity. And, the Massachusetts Democrat maintained, ‘even if there were problems, the federal government doesn’t bail them out.’ Now, it’s clear he was wrong on both points…
Frank wasn’t wrong. He was just lying through his teeth. Frank claims that he “missed” the warning signs with Fannie and Freddie because he was wearing “ideological blinders,” which was just his lame attempt to blame Republicans. But he did not miss them. According to evidence uncovered by Judicial Watch, he just chose to ignore them.
Judicial Watch obtained documents in 2010 proving that members of Congress, including — and perhaps especially — Barney Frank, were well aware that Fannie and Freddie were in deep trouble due to corruption and incompetence and yet they did nothing to stop it.
Moreover, as the Globe notes, in July 2008, then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson says he called Frank and told him the government would need to spend “billions of taxpayer dollars to backstop the institutions from catastrophic failure.” Frank, despite that conversation, appeared on national television two days later and said the companies were “fundamentally sound, not in danger of going under.” Less than two months later, the government seized Fannie and Freddie and the bailout began.
President Barack Obama: Remember the promise President Obama made just after his inauguration in 2009? “Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.”
Instead, Americans have suffered through lies, stonewalling, cover-ups, corruption, secrecy, scandal and blatant disregard for the rule of law…this has been the Obama legacy in its first two years.
In 2010, Obama was caught in a lie over what he knew about Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s scheme to sell the president’s vacated Senate seat. Blagojevich’s former Chief of Staff John Harris testified that Obama had personal knowledge of Blago’s plot to obtain a presidential cabinet position in exchange for appointing a candidate handpicked by the President. In fact, according to Harris’s court testimony, Obama sent Blagojevich a list of “acceptable” Senate candidates to fill his old seat. Obama was interviewed by the FBI even before he was sworn into office. He claimed he and his staff had no contact with Blagojevich’s office. Unfortunately federal prosecutors never called the President or his staff to testify under oath.
The President also broke his famous pledge to televise healthcare negotiations. And in 2010, we learned why he broke his pledge. In what is now known as the “Cornhusker Kickback” scheme, Obama and the Democrats in the Senate “purchased” the vote of one of the last Democrat hold-outs, Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson, who opposed Obamacare over the issue of covering abortions with taxpayer funds. Nelson abandoned his opposition to Obamacare after receiving millions of dollars in federal aid for his home-state, helping to give the Democrats the 60 votes they needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. Same goes for Louisiana Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu, who received a $100 million payoff in what has been called “The Louisiana Purchase.” (The Kickback was so corrupt that Democrats stripped it out at the last minute. The Louisiana Purchase, on the other hand, became law of the land.)
Obama lied about his White House’s involvement in this legislative bribery that helped lead to the passage of the signature policy achievement of his presidency.