Go to HHH home page.
Smart Politics
 


Ethics and Corruption: A Shaky Start for the Democrats

Bookmark and Share

Democrats have not yet officially ascended to power in D.C., but the early headlines coming out of Washington are not flattering to a party whose national campaign this fall included ethics and corruption as one of its central features.

To begin with, House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi stumbled out of the gate in November by backing Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha for the House Majority Leadership post (Murtha lost to Maryland's Steny Hoyer). Pelosi seemed slow to learn that as Democrats rose to power in Election 2006 by taking advantage of the appearances of impropriety in various congressional ethics scandals (e.g. knocking out incumbents who seemed too close to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, such as Montana Senator Conrad Burns), that the media will now turn its lens more closely on the Democrats, the new majority party, to unearth any questionable ethical behavior of its members.

Murtha was linked and investigated (though never charged or convicted) in the Abscam bribery sting in 1980, and an embarrassing videotape with Murtha discussing (though ultimately declining) a bribe was recently unearthed. Though Murtha's own constituents made peace with this puzzling incident years ago, Murtha had to defend himself once again, this time on the national stage. This is not the sort of portrait the Democratic Party wanted to unveil just days after winning an important election, partially on the ethics issue.

The latest batch of bad news for the Democrats came this weekend out of Louisiana, where 8-term Democratic incumbent William Jefferson defeated State Representative Karen Carter 57% - 43% in a runoff election for the state's 2nd District seat. Jefferson is the target of an FBI corruption probe; the fruits of the federal investigation included $90,000 seized in a controversial search of the congressman's home and office. The national Democratic Party (as well as the Louisiana Democratic Party) steered clear of the congressman, but Jefferson's retail politics won over his constituents, despite a likely indictment looming over the incumbent.

Neither one of these incidents taken individually is going to hurt the Democrats in 2008, but it is a troubling start for a party that regained power by winning over many independents in 2006 who had been turned off by Republicans due to a series of individual ethical problems. If the Democrats wish to retain power in 2008, the time is now to make sure their House stays clean.

Previous post: MN vs. WI: Which State Is Most Likely to Vote GOP for President in 2008?
Next post: WI State Legislative Shakeup in 2006 At Near Historic Levels

1 Comment


  • A. I believe it was Jefferson's home freezer.

    B. Democrats did more than "steer clear" of Jefferson-- they stripped him of his seat on Ways & Means, they openly supported his opponent. I read somewhere that the reason Jefferson won was because one of his right-wing opponents threw his support behind Jefferson, knowing that if/when he is kicked out of Congress he would have another chance to run.

    C. In the end, Democrats voted for Hoyer by a pretty large margin, Pelosi's backing notwithstanding. When/if Jefferson is convicted, they will doubtlessly kick him out of office. Democrats are rejecting corruption, even if voters aren't... why did Tom Delay keep getting returned to office?

    You really can't compare the singular instances of corrupt Democrats to the widespread system of corruption under the Republican government. I hope it stays that way. I hope the Dems push for real ethics reform.

  • Leave a comment


    Remains of the Data

    Who Has Won the Most Votes in US Senate Electoral History?

    Only three of the Top 10 and nine of the Top 50 vote-getters of all time are currently serving in the chamber.

    Political Crumbs

    Six for Thirteen

    Collin Peterson remarked last month that he is leaning to run for reelection to Minnesota's 7th Congressional District in 2016. If he does and is victorious, he will creep even closer to the top of the list of the longest-serving U.S. Representatives in Minnesota history. The DFL congressman is only the sixth Minnesotan to win at least 13 terms to the U.S. House of the 135 elected to the chamber in state history. Peterson trails 18-term DFLer Jim Oberstar (1975-2011), 16-term Republicans Harold Knutson (1917-1949) and August Andresen (1925-1933; 1935-1958), and 14-term DFLers Martin Sabo (1979-2007) and John Blatnik (1947-1974). Andresen died in office, Sabo and Blatnik retired, and Knutson and Oberstar were defeated at the ballot box in 1948 and 2010 respectively. At 70 years, 7 months, 11 days through Monday, Peterson is currently the ninth oldest Gopher State U.S. Representative in history. DFLer Rick Nolan of the 8th CD is the seventh oldest at 71 years, 1 month, 23 days.


    Seeing Red

    Congressman Nick Rahall's failed bid for a 20th term in West Virginia this cycle, combined with a narrow loss by Nick Casey to Alex Mooney in Shelley Moore Capito's open seat, means that West Virginia Democrats will be shut out of the state's U.S. House delegation for the first time in over 90 years. The Republican sweep by two-term incumbent David McKinley in the 1st CD, Mooney in the 2nd, and Evan Jenkins over Rahall in the 3rd marks the first time the GOP has held all seats in the chamber from West Virginia since the Election of 1920. During the 67th Congress (1921-1923) all six seats from the state were controlled by the GOP. Since the Election of 1922, Democrats have won 76 percent of all U.S. House elections in the Mountain State - capturing 172 seats compared to 54 for the GOP.


    more POLITICAL CRUMBS

    Humphrey School Sites
    CSPG
    Humphrey New Media Hub

    Issues />

<div id=
    Abortion
    Afghanistan
    Budget and taxes
    Campaign finances
    Crime and punishment
    Economy and jobs
    Education
    Energy
    Environment
    Foreign affairs
    Gender
    Health
    Housing
    Ideology
    Immigration
    Iraq
    Media
    Military
    Partisanship
    Race and ethnicity
    Reapportionment
    Redistricting
    Religion
    Sexuality
    Sports
    Terrorism
    Third parties
    Transportation
    Voting