Letter: Corruption in Washington
It seems that news from Washington is a mixture of dishonesty, corruption and bribery. One is the resignation of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) along with his confession of having accepted bribes of $2.4 million from defense contractors....
It seems that news from Washington is a mixture of dishonesty, corruption and bribery. One is the resignation of Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) along with his confession of having accepted bribes of $2.4 million from defense contractors. (After his public confession, Minnesota Congressmen John Kline and Mark Kennedy decided to donate to charity the money they received from Cunningham's PAC.)
Texas Judge Pat Priest has upheld the charge of money laundering against Tom DeLay (R-Texas). If convicted, DeLay's sentence could be from five years to life. DeLay is a close friend of lobbyist Jack Abramoff whose lavish "gifts" to members of Congress are under investigation. Members questioned include Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio), John Doolittle (R-Calif.) and Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Conrad Burns (R-Mont.).
Others from the administration include Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice and White House budget official David Safavian who resigned before being arrested.
Michael Scanlon, former DeLay aide and partner of Abramoff, has pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe members of Congress and has agreed to repay $19.6 million to his former Indian tribe clients.
Some rule changes have been proposed which would make it more difficult to sneak provisions into legislation on behalf of special interests. The proposed changes have the aim of stopping lobbyists from financing these golf excursions to Scotland.
Some proposed changes include:
No consideration of legislation unless members had a printed copy at least 24 hours beforehand.
Advocacy of a special spending provision ("earmark") without disclosing a financial or personal interest.
Lawmakers could not accept travel or lodging without assurance from the trip sponsor that lobbyists were not financing the trip.
The House could not join the Senate in a conference committee on a spending bill unless the Senate clearly identified its changes.
While these proposals are commonsense, it is doubtful whether they will be adopted. They are from four Democrats led by Rep.David Obey (D-Wis.). Unfortunately the highly partisan atmosphere of Washington produces party-line votes rather than rational rules. The best hope for their approval is citizen pressure.
Barbara M. Edwards