CREW’s Top Ten Scandals of 2009 (Including Some That May Have Slipped Under Your Radar, But Which Will Keep on Giving!)

~~By InsightAnalytical-GRL

What better way to end 2009 with a snappy overview of the “top ten” ethics scandals of the year!

Citizens for Responsiblity and Ethics in Washington (CREW) has put together a review of some of some of the high points, along with CREW’s wishes for the new year.

Of course, there’s the TARP/executive pay bonuses,  the SEC’s failure to catch Madoff  as he ripped off clients (starting way back in 1992), and a few sex scandals involving the likes of Gov. Mark Sanford and Senator John Ensign.  Then there was the political corruption of  Reps. Charlie Rangel and John Murtha with transgressions ranging from failing to pay taxes to shady pay-to-play schemes.

But there a few other items that may have slipped under your radar.

Here’s a sampling (the report is in PDF format):


Public Corruption Prosecutions Were So 2009.
In 2009, the Supreme Court accepted three cases challenging honest services law, a provision in the federal mail-fraud statute making it illegal for public or private employees to “deprive another of the intangible right of honest services.” This statute is a critical prosecutorial tool for fighting public corruption, having been used to convict former Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and a large number of those involved in the Jack Abramoff scandal. During oral arguments, the Supreme Court justices focused on all the ways the statute can misapplied, strongly suggesting they plan to limit the statute’s breadth, if not hold it unconstitutional. Already, the prosecutors
handling the case of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich have indicated they will re-indict the governor to delete the honest services fraud counts. In addition, Rep. Jefferson plans to ask a court to give him a new trial, though he was convicted of other charges in addition to honest services fraud.

CREW’s holiday wish: For the honest services fraud statute to remain intact so the law can continue to be used to convict the likes of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Jefferson.

Ah, what would the year be like with the Roberts Supreme Court pulling some sort of crap?

And then there’s this:

What, The FEC Is Supposed to Enforce (Not Gut) Campaign Finance Laws?
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is failing in its mandated mission to administer and enforce regulations governing the financing of federal elections. Violations of federal campaign finance law are likely to go unpunished thanks to the partisan deadlock that has rendered the FEC ineffectual. With three Republican and three Democratic appointees, the FEC consistently fails to take action against even the most egregious violations. As The Washington Post said in an op-ed on June 15th: “The three Republican appointees are turning the commission into The Little Agency That Wouldn’t: wouldn’t launch investigations, wouldn’t bring cases, wouldn’t even accept settlements that the staff had already negotiated.”

By not taking action against federal candidates who break the rules, the FEC is encouraging unethical campaign tactics that privilege money over principle. The FEC commissioners’ failure to take their oversight mission seriously threatens to undermine campaign finance laws and further flood the electoral process with money. With a lack of campaign finance oversight, political influence on Capitol Hill will be bought by the highest bidder and the common good will be sacrificed to special interests.

CREW’s holiday wish: A restructured FEC with an odd number of commissioners, as opposed to  he current even number of six, would go a long way to ending the deadlock and allow the FEC to effectively enforce campaign finance laws.

Gee, where’s all that “bipartisanship” when you need it??

All in all, it was a banner year for scandals, but it looks like the stage is set for some of them to staying around as the “gifts that keep on giving.”

…including one that’s just revving up!   Ever hear of the “Caribbean Caucus?”  From the Miami Herald:

Feds probe banker Allen Stanford’s ties to Congress

The ties between indicted banker Allen Stanford and members of Congress — including millions in contributions and weekends in five-star Caribbean resorts — are now the subject of a sweeping federal investigation.

Lots of money floating around over the years to some familiar names: the powerful Republican Pete Sessions, John Sweeney, Gregory Meeks, Donald Payne, Phil Crane, the Republican National Committee, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, the G.W. Bush inaugural committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and more…

Won’t that make a great start to 2010??


7 Responses

  1. Hi IA,
    Are you ready to get started ? It’s almost 2010 and we all need to get revved up and ready to go. To fight the incumbants, I mean. Let no incumbant remain at the public trough. I haven’t been sleeping much lately, what with the Health Care Reform? Bill, and wondering if Nasty Nancy and Hustling Harry are going to be able to circumvent the Conference Committee and send the bill on to the One. Unless they are able to do that we may stand a very slim chance of having a hero or two come to his/her senses. Nah, it’ll never happen. After all they make their own rules.

  2. Lee if anyone were willing to do anything about the health nightmare they’d be standing up right now screaming foul.
    This is the single largest victory-insuring issue the Republicans have ever seen, bar none! All they need to do is campaign on repealing this bill and they’re guaranteed a majority in both houses, but I’m hearing crickets from them. And the Democrats are so busy counting their thirty pieces of silver that they can’t even see the pitchforks and torches outside their offices.

    It’s time for us to stop whining about 3rd parties and indies having no chance and stand up to these traitors in Congress!

    • The Repugs won’t campaign against the bulk of this bill! Heck, all McCain is worried about are the Advantage “perks”!! Subsidized by the taxpayer!

      This crap is a Republican wet-dream because it simply codifies the power of insurance/pharma industries in our “system.”

      Hey, did you hear about the excise tax on the “Cadillac plans” owned by the wealthy? Except with rising costs, it will eventually ensnare some way lower down the food chain…Maybe in the $75,000/year income bracket…result may be people cutting back on their insurance, etc. etc. Sort of the reverse of what’s supposed to be happening re: everyone covered and good health for all!


  3. Knowledge may be power, but it can also be very depressing.

  4. I am trying to figure out how this Health Care Bill that is opposed by 100% of the Republicans in the Senate, a vast majority of the Republicans in the House and is supported by 100% of the Democrats in the Senate and is supported by the majority of the Democrats in the House is some how the Republicans fault.

    Now that I am an honest to goodness Indenpendent and see both parties as the blood-sucking, corrupt , loathesome and dishonest critters they are I find it endlessly amusing how many liberals seem to either think Democrats behaving badly is “Republican” behavior and not just Democrats being bad.

    This bill is 100% on the Democrats and the Republicans will use it to run against them. Doesn’t make the Republicans better it just, in this one case, makes them more in tune with the wishes of the electorate.

    Republicans said that if the Democrats were in charge they would tax and spend, ignoring how much they had done the same. Most people look at the insane spending spree the Democrats have been on and will find the Republicans to have been right. If Republicans can restrain themselves from becoming as arrogant in their power, should they regain it, as they were the last time and as the Democrats are at this time they could be in charge for a very long time.

    Thank the Democrats if that happens.

    • This bill is not the Repulican’s fault…I don’t see any reference to that…HOWEVER, for years, the Republicans have blocked most meaningful attempts at true reform….adamantly opposed to the coverage of those over 55 with insurance via a Medicare buy in, and years of trying to cut reimbursements to doctors! And they haven’t exactly pushed for single-payer either!

      Politically, they’ll try to pose as champions of healthcare…their phony crap about “a govenment takeover” which in truth, is just a complete BUSINESS takeover of healthcare.

      They’ll squawk, but do you think when they return that they will reverse any of this? This is the crowd that gave us phony numbers and the odious Medicare prescription rip-off. Only thing they may try to do is let the companies off the hook re: preconditions and anything else that might cut into profits!

      I read a piece from a former Democratic National Committee a few days ago who said Democrats have to move more to the center! In my view, they’ve moved right into the Republican Party, but ironically, they’ll be punished for it!

      You can’t play with Republicans and come out ahead. They Democrats horsed around with Olympia Snow for months, for what? (Same thing with the Medicare Part D game.) They sold out single payer, for what? They sold out women, for what? Heck, they sold out REAL Democrats, too.

      Apparently, everyone in D.C. is Republican or Republican-lite these days.

  5. And you just made my point. If it’s bad, it’s Republican. Even when a Democrat is doing it.

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