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

    Which States Own the Best Track Record in Backing Eventual GOP Presidential Nominees?

    Nine states (each with primaries) have an unblemished record in voting for the eventual Republican nominee since 1976 - and not all host contests on the back end of the calendar.

    Political Crumbs

    Evolving?

    When Scott Walker "punted" back in February after being asked if he was comfortable with the idea of evolution he added, "That's a question a politician shouldn't be involved in one way or the other." However, it may very well be a question that is asked at one of the upcoming GOP debates this year. In South Carolina during the first GOP debate in 2012, FOX News' Juan Williams asked Tim Pawlenty, "Do you equate the teaching of creationism with the teaching of evolution as the basis for what should be taught for our nation's schools?" Pawlenty replied, "There should be room in the curriculum for study of intelligent design" but that it was up to the local school districts if it should be in a science class or comparative theory class. At the fourth Republican debate held in California, Jon Huntsman addressed the GOP becoming "anti-science" thusly: "Listen, when you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science. We can't run from mainstream conservative philosophy."


    73 Months and Counting

    January's preliminary Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers show Minnesota's unemployment rate of 3.7 percent was once again lower than Wisconsin's 5.0 percent. That marks the 73rd consecutive month in which Minnesota has boasted a lower jobless rate than its neighbor to the east dating back to January 2009 including each of the last 67 months by at least one point. The Gopher State has now edged Wisconsin in the employment border battle for 204 of the last 216 months dating back to February 1997. Wisconsin only managed a lower unemployment rate than Minnesota for the 12 months of 2008 during this 18-year span.


    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