Watchdog group Judicial Watch recently released their Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politician list for 2007. Though I’m a bit perturbed that George Bush and Dick Cheney aren’t included (presumably because they are in the all-time hall of infamy), you may be surprised to see who made the list.
Take special note of how many presidential candidates made the cut. Here they are in alphabetical order:
1. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY): In addition to her long and sordid ethics record, Senator Hillary Clinton took a lot of heat in 2007 Ã¢Â€Â“ and rightly so Ã¢Â€Â“ for blocking the release of her official White House records. Many suspect these records contain a treasure trove of information related to her role in a number of serious Clinton-era scandals. Moreover, in March 2007, Judicial Watch filed an ethics complaint against Senator Clinton for filing false financial disclosure forms with the U.S. Senate (again). And HillaryÃ¢Â€Â™s top campaign contributor, Norman Hsu, was exposed as a felon and a fugitive from justice in 2007. Hsu pleaded guilt to one count of grand theft for defrauding investors as part of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.
2. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): House Judiciary Chairman Conyers of Detroit reportedly repeatedly violated the law and House ethics rules, forcing his staff to serve as his personal servants, babysitters, valets and campaign workers while on the government payroll. While the House Ethics Committee investigated these allegations in 2006, and substantiated a number of the accusations against Conyers, the committee blamed the staff and required additional administrative record-keeping and employee training. Judicial Watch obtained documentation in 2007 from a former Conyers staffer that sheds new light on the activities and conduct on the part of the Michigan congressman, which appear to be at a minimum inappropriate and likely unlawful. Judicial Watch called on the Attorney General in 2007 to investigate the matter. [Is it possible that Conyers’ failure to press for the impeachment of Cheney and Bush has something to do with the skeletons in his own closet?]
3. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID): In one of the most shocking scandals of 2007, Senator Craig was caught by police attempting to solicit sex in a Minneapolis International Airport menÃ¢Â€Â™s bathroom during the summer. Senator Craig reportedly Ã¢Â€Âœsent signalsÃ¢Â€Â to a police officer in an adjacent stall that he wanted to engage in sexual activity. When the police officer showed Craig his police identification under the bathroom stall divider and pointed toward the exit, the senator reportedly exclaimed ‘No!’Ã¢Â€Â When asked to produce identification, Craig presented police his U.S. Senate business card and said, Ã¢Â€ÂœWhat do you think of that?Ã¢Â€Â The power play didnÃ¢Â€Â™t work. Craig was arrested, charged and entered a guilty plea. Despite enormous pressure from his Republican colleagues to resign from the Senate, Craig refused.
4. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA): As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on military construction, Feinstein reviewed military construction government contracts, some of which were ultimately awarded to URS Corporation and Perini, companies then owned by Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum. While the Pentagon ultimately awards military contracts, there is a reason for the review process. The Senate’s subcommittee on Military Construction’s approval carries weight. Sen. Feinstein, therefore, likely had influence over the decision making process. Senator Feinstein also attempted to undermine ethics reform in 2007, arguing in favor of a perk that allows members of Congress to book multiple airline flights and then cancel them without financial penalty. Judicial WatchÃ¢Â€Â™s investigation into this matter is ongoing.
5. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY): Giuliani came under fire in late 2007 after it was discovered the former New York mayorÃ¢Â€Â™s office Ã¢Â€Âœbilled obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the HamptonsÃ¢Â€Â¦Ã¢Â€Â ABC News also reported that Giuliani provided Nathan with a police vehicle and a city driver at taxpayer expense. All of this news came on the heels of the federal indictment on corruption charges of GiulianiÃ¢Â€Â™s former Police Chief and business partner Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting a $165,000 bribe in the form of renovations to his Bronx apartment from a construction company attempting to land city contracts.
6. Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR): Governor Huckabee enjoyed a meteoric rise in the polls in December 2007, which prompted a more thorough review of his ethics record. According to The Associated Press: Ã¢Â€Âœ[HuckabeeÃ¢Â€Â™s] career has also been colored by 14 ethics complaints and a volley of questions about his integrity, ranging from his management of campaign cash to his use of a nonprofit organization to subsidize his income to his destruction of state computer files on his way out of the governorÃ¢Â€Â™s office.Ã¢Â€Â And what was Governor HuckabeeÃ¢Â€Â™s response to these ethics allegations? Rather than cooperating with investigators, Huckabee sued the state ethics commission twice and attempted to shut the ethics process down. [Let’s also not forget Gov. Huckabee’s political motives in pushing for the early release of convicted rapist Wayne DuMond. DuMond moved to Missouri and in less than a year suffocated a mother of three and was suspected of murdering another woman. According to the LA Times, parole board members claim they felt “compelled” to release DuMond as a “favor to the governor.”]
7. I. Lewis Ã¢Â€ÂœScooterÃ¢Â€Â Libby: Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000 for lying and obstructing the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. Libby was found guilty of four felonies – two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements to the FBI and one count of obstructing justice Ã¢Â€Â“ all serious crimes. Unfortunately, Libby was largely let off the hook. In an appalling “lack of judgment”, President Bush issued Ã¢Â€ÂœExecutive ClemencyÃ¢Â€Â to Libby and commuted the sentence.
8. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL): A Ã¢Â€ÂœDishonorable MentionÃ¢Â€Â last year, Senator Obama moves onto the Ã¢Â€Âœten most wantedÃ¢Â€Â list in 2007. In 2006, it was discovered that Obama was involved in a suspicious real estate deal with an indicted political fundraiser, Antoin Ã¢Â€ÂœTonyÃ¢Â€Â Rezko. In 2007, more reports surfaced of deeper and suspicious business and political connections It was reported that just two months after he joined the Senate, Obama purchased $50,000 worth of stock in speculative companies whose major investors were his biggest campaign contributors. One of the companies was a biotech concern that benefited from legislation Obama pushed just two weeks after the senator purchased $5,000 of the companyÃ¢Â€Â™s shares. Obama was also nabbed conducting campaign business in his Senate office, a violation of federal law.
9. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who promised a new era of ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, snuck a $25 million gift to her husband, Paul Pelosi, in a $15 billion Water Resources Development Act recently passed by Congress. The pet project involved renovating ports in Speaker Pelosi’s home base of San Francisco. Pelosi just happens to own apartment buildings near the areas targeted for improvement, and will almost certainly experience a significant boost in property value as a result of Pelosi’s earmark. Earlier in the year, Pelosi found herself in hot water for demanding access to a luxury Air Force jet to ferry the Speaker and her entourage back and forth from San Francisco non-stop, in unprecedented request which was wisely rejected by the Pentagon. And under PelosiÃ¢Â€Â™s leadership, the House ethics process remains essentially shut down Ã¢Â€Â“ which protects members in both parties from accountability. [Pelosi’s opponent in the 2008 election , Cindy Sheehan, is also calling for investigations into what Pelosi knew about the CIA’s destruction of videotapes that showed the agency torturing political prisoners.] 10. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV): Over the last few years, Reid has been embroiled in a series of scandals that cast serious doubt on his credibility as a self-professed champion of government ethics, and 2007 was no different. According to The Los Angeles Times, over the last four years, Reid has used his influence in Washington to help a developer, Havey Whittemore, clear obstacles for a profitable real estate deal. As the project advanced, the Times reported, Ã¢Â€ÂœReid received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Whittemore.Ã¢Â€Â Whittemore also hired one of ReidÃ¢Â€Â™s sons (Leif) as his personal lawyer and then promptly handed the junior Reid the responsibility of negotiating the real estate deal with federal officials. Leif Reid even called his fatherÃ¢Â€Â™s office to talk about how to obtain the proper EPA permits, a clear conflict of interest. [Reid and Pelosi are also guilty of failing to defend our troops in Iraq by ending the war there. The Democrats were elected with a clear mandate to end the war, and Pelosi and Reid could do so by blocking military spending bills from the House and Senate floors. The two instead seem to believe that the Democrats can retake the White House in 2008 by continuing to fund a war that they fully support, while telling the American people they want to end it. They are treading on very thin ice…]
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