One of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace; good people don’t go into government. – Donald Trump
Why have Americans come to expect so little from their elected leaders? Daily it seems we are bombarded with stories of our elected leaders, at almost every level of government, being involved scandals of every variety. The reaction to the scandals by the media varies depending on the party of the offender and the level of office they hold. Neither party thinks their side gets fair treatment when the scandal is covered. What is most disturbing is that these scandals are becoming more frequent and covering a broader range of transgressions. Sure these men and women are just human and prone to make mistakes just like the rest of us, but more and more it seems that they feel above the rules and the laws that the average citizens is held accountable to. Here are a few examples:
Monica Conyers (D), the chairwoman of the Detroit City Council (Corruption)
(Politico 6/26) Monica Conyers pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with a city sludge-hauling scandal. As a member of the Detroit City Council in 2007, Conyers cast the deciding vote in favor of awarding a $1.2 billion contract to Synagro Technologies Inc.
Monica Conyers initially opposed the Synagro contract with the city but later reversed her position and cast the critical vote approving it. Her reversal caused uproar inside the city council, and federal investigators soon began looking into allegations of payoffs surrounding her vote.
According to Monica Conyers’s plea agreement with the Justice Department, “During the summer and winter of 2007, both before and after her vote, defendant received cash payments … from an individual sent by Rayford Jackson, a paid consultant for Synagro.”
Jackson pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit bribery 10 days ago, leading to heavy speculation in Detroit political circles that Monica Conyers would soon accept a plea deal of her own.
Jackson’s payments to Monica Conyers totaled at least $6,000, according to news reports. Monica Conyers’s attorney said Friday that she would be sentenced to between 30 and 37 months in federal prison.
Monica Conyers, 44, was elected to the city council in January 2005, and in September 2008, she was named the council’s interim president.
Her tenure has been marred by controversy and complaints about her personal behavior. Last year, in a dispute during official council proceedings, Conyers called then-council President Ken Cockrel “Shrek.”
Earlier this year, Councilman Kwame Kenyatta accused Conyers of making fun of his poor hearing and lack of a college degree in a confrontation outside his office. Kenyatta also said Conyers had started rumors about him having cancer.
Monica Conyers also came under fire after the city’s pension board said she owed the city $5,600 in unpaid travel advances from last year.
With her guilty plea today, Monica Conyers joins former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the ranks of now disgraced Motor City politicians.
What makes this story even more interesting is that her husband the is 80 year old, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), who’s the lead House official conducting oversight of the Justice Department and the FBI which helped conduct the investigation. Rep. Conyers, did not attend his wife’s court session and declined to say anything to Capitol Hill reporters about his wife’s guilty plea.
Other Detroit politicians…..
With her guilty plea today, Monica Conyers joins former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in the ranks of now disgraced Motor City politicians. Following a long, winding investigation that convulsed city politics, Kilpatrick, son of Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI), pleaded guilty last year to obstruction of justice charges, resigned from office and served more than three months in jail. The House ethics committee announced on Wednesday that Carolyn Kilpatrick would be among the five lawmakers that it would investigate as part of its probe into who paid for Caribbean trips in 2007 and 2008 that the lawmakers took. He was not implicated in any way in the case.
Read the full story at: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1725259,00.html
Sen. Barney Frank (D) MA, (Sex and Bad Judgment) – Yes, the same Barney Frank!
(Time) Widely regarded as one of the most intelligent and well spoken members of the House of Representatives, Barney Frank, a Democratic U.S. congressman for nearly 30 years and the first openly gay member of the House, almost undid his career in 1989 after an affair with Steve Gobie, a male prostitute. Although Frank was single at the time — thus not committing adultery — he did pay someone for sex (with personal funds), which is illegal in his state of Massachusetts. But the poor judgment didn’t end there. Frank hired Gobie to run errands and allowed him to live at his home, where Frank obviously hoped he would be rehabilitated and renounce his life of sin. The only problem: Gobie kept on working as a prostitute — from Frank’s home.
The Representative maintained that he had no knowledge that his digs were being used as a brothel and said that he kicked Gobie out once he learned what the escort had been doing there. Desperate to prove his limited culpability in the case, Frank requested an investigation by the House ethics committee. The 10-month probe found that Frank did not, in fact, know about the happenings in his home but that he should be reprimanded for use of House privilege in waiving 33 of Gobie’s parking tickets and for writing a memo that attempted to end Gobie’s probation for a prior infraction.
Sen. John Ensign (R) NV, (Affair)
(Time 6/18) The news blindsided official Washington: Senator John Ensign (R) NV, a well-known social conservative and family-values advocate, admitted on June 16 to an eight-month extramarital affair with a married campaign aide. The Nevada Republican’s sober confession, read before a pack of reporters in Las Vegas, doubtlessly dashed the hopes of many in the party who considered Ensign an emerging national leader. The 51-year-old even fanned the flames of presidential speculation earlier this month with a trip to the key presidential-primary state of Iowa. Beyond embarrassing the second-term Senator, the revelation opened him to charges of hypocrisy: he had previously called on both President Bill Clinton and former Idaho Senator Larry Craig to resign after their own sex scandals.
“Last year I had an affair. I violated the vows of my marriage. It is the worst thing I have ever done in my life. If there was ever anything in my life that I could take back, this would be it,” Ensign said.
“Since we found out last year we have worked through the situation and we have come to a reconciliation … With the help of our family and close friends our marriage has become stronger.”
— Darlene Ensign, in a statement (June 16, 2009)
Gov. Mark Sanford (R) SC, (Affair)
(Time) The Sanford saga began with a disappearing act. The South Carolina governor apparently left home in a black SUV on June 18 and stopped picking up his cell phone or responding to text messages and emails. He was AWOL for the better part of a week. The explanations piled up: the rising GOP star was “writing something,” said his wife; he was recharging after losing a fight to refuse stimulus money, said his spokesman; he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, said his staff. When a reporter cornered Sanford in the Atlanta airport June 24, however, the governor revealed that he’d been in Buenos Aires. With South Carolina’s capital buzzing with talk of impeachment, Sanford, 49, held a press conference to explain himself: he’d gone to visit an Argentinean woman with whom he’d been having an affair. Apologizing to his wife and four sons and choking up repeatedly, Sanford said he’d spent “the last five days of my life crying in Argentina,” and had now ended the year-long dalliance. Sanford, a rumored 2012 presidential hopeful, said he will resign as head of the Republican Governors Association.
Gov. Elliot Spitzer (D) NY, (Sex and Call Girls)
(Time) It all began as an IRS investigation. When the New York Governor attempted to transfer upwards of $10,000 to a mysterious business known as the Emperor’s Club, employees at North Fork Bank got suspicious. Their tip led federal authorities to one of the most shocking sex scandals in recent memory, and to one of the most unexpected “Johns” in political history — Client #9 a.k.a. the “Luv Guv” Eliot Spitzer. Yes, the same man who made a name for himself prosecuting prostitution rings as New York’s hard-charging Attorney General. When the New York Times broke the story about Spitzer’s hotel rendezvous with a $1,000-an-hour call girl named Ashley Alexandra Dupré on Mar. 10, 2008, he resigned two days later. When asked in December about his new job as a columnist for Slate magazine, Spitzer deadpanned: “It sucks. I used to be Governor.”
Sen. John Edwards (D) NC, (Affair)
(Time) After months of denying the allegations, the onetime Vice Presidential candidate confessed on Aug. 8, 2008 to having had an affair with a 42-year-old aspiring actress turned political documentarian named Rielle Hunter, whom Edwards’ staff had hired to make videos for his campaign. In a plot twist fit for a Jerry Springer episode, Edwards, whose wife Elizabeth had been diagnosed in Nov. 2004 with incurable breast cancer, vehemently denied fathering Hunter’s child, as had been alleged in the Enquirer report, and offered to take a paternity test.
In an interview with ABC News Nightline, Edwards chalked up the affair to a “self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism” inevitably spawned by his becoming a leading national political figure (and perhaps by his receiving a nod as People Magazine’s “Sexiest Politician” in 2000). In May, Elizabeth appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show to discuss her memoir Resilience. In the book she does not once mention the name of her husband’s mistress, instead referring to her as “that woman” or “the female videographer.” The same week Hunter — after initially saying no — agreed to allow a DNA test to prove whether John fathered her daughter. No test has yet been conducted.
Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) IL, (Corruption)
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Sweeping aside six years of scandal and crippling political infighting with a historic impeachment vote, the state Senate on Thursday ousted one governor for abusing his power and anointed another who built his political career around having no power at all.
The Senate’s unanimous, back-to-back votes to convict Blagojevich on a sweeping article of impeachment and disqualify him from future public office in Illinois represented a swift repudiation following his Dec. 9 arrest at his North Side home on federal corruption charges that included plotting to sell the U.S. Senate seat vacated by President Barack Obama. Blagojevich immediately proclaimed his innocence.
Senators voted 59-0 to remove Rod Blagojevich, who walked out of the silent chamber after delivering an impassioned plea for mercy. Within hours they applauded his former running mate and lieutenant governor, Patrick Quinn, who was sworn in as the state’s 41st governor vowing a new course for Illinois.
“The ordeal is over,” said Quinn, long viewed as an unwelcome outsider by the state’s political establishment. “In this moment, our hearts are hurt. And it’s very important to know that we have a duty, a mission to restore the faith of the people of Illinois in the integrity of their government.”
He replaced a defiant Blagojevich, 52, the first Democratic governor in a quarter century and the first governor in Illinois history to be impeached. After racing back to his Chicago home before the vote could deprive him of a ride home on the state plane, Blagojevich once again said he was the victim of a rush to judgment.
Rep. William Jefferson (D) LA, (Corruption)
(CBS/AP) Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., was indicted Monday on federal charges of racketeering, money-laundering and soliciting more than $400,000 in bribes in connection with years of trying to broker business deals in Africa.
The indictment in federal court in Alexandria, Va., lists 16 alleged violations of federal law with prison terms totaling as much as 235 years. Jefferson is charged with racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money-laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy.
He is the first sitting congressman to face charges under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which prohibits corporate bribery overseas.
The indictment claims Jefferson bribed Nigerian officials to pave the way for U.S. businesses — deals in telecommunications, oil fields, sugar, fertilizer and waste recycling plants, reports CBS News correspondent Sharyl Attkisson. In return, he demanded monthly payments, profit shares and stock for his family-owned businesses.
The scheme was complicated, and Jefferson set up a front company to hide the money, prosecutors said.For more: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/06/04/politics/main2882231.shtml
This list could go on forever – Sen. Chris Dodd (D) CT, (Country Wide mortgage deal, AIG Bonuses), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D) CA, (Military jets, CIA lies about torture), Rep. John Murtha (D) PA, (Earmark king), Rep. Charlie Rangel (D) NY, (Taxes, Ethics), Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner (Taxes), President Bill Clinton (Monica Lewinsky, Paula Jones), President Richard Nixon (Watergate), Sen. Gary Hart (D), CO (Donna Rice) to name a few.
Then there is Illinois – Its’ incredible corruption was documented in Sept. 7, 2006 by the Chicago Sun-Times, which reported that at least 79 current or former Illinois, Chicago or Cook County elected officials had been found guilty of a crime by judges, juries or their own pleas since 1972. The paper provided this tally of the tarnished: three governors, two other state officials, 15 state legislators, two congressmen, one mayor, three other city officials, 27 aldermen, 19 Cook County judges and seven other Cook County officials. Soon there will be four governors.
Many of the named above are career politicians. Politics is their job and they will promise anything to stay employed. They are the argument for term limits but that’s another blog.
If you wonder why our economy, our country and our way of life has become such a mess, look no further than some of the idiots we keep electing. I am not saying that they all are idiots or incompetent but the good guys are becoming a rare breed. However, at the end of the day, WE own this. It is our responsibility to vet the candidates. Let’s start electing real people with character, ethics, morals and flaws, which were forged in the real world under fire.
- principled men and women who are willing to represent the values of their constituents and do what’s best for their country, their state or community
- true leaders that will not mortgage our future for short term victories or sell their values to the highest bidder in exchange for support on an item they want
- leaders who have common sense, love their country and believe in the American dream
As voters, our responsibilities are the same as the candidate’s. We have to be leaders in our communities, educating ourselves as well as fellow voters through debate and discussion. We need to invest enough time in the election process to understand the issues and know who we are voting for.
The time to “throw the bums out” is long over due if we are going to save our country we have to act now. The country can not and will not survive if we do not find and vote for leaders who will follow the Constitution. We need leaders that will put our country first – not their political ambitions or personal fortunes.
“We in America do not have government by the majority. We have government by the majority who participate.” – Thomas Jefferson
“I have the consolation of having added nothing to my private fortune during my public service, and of retiring with hands clean as they are empty.” – Thomas Jefferson