The New York Times talks about the reaction to the case of Bill Jefferson, and notes in particular how upset Members of Congress are that the FBI would raid a Congressional office. Amusing to me however, are the complaints from Democrats that Republicans may use this case to rebut Democratic charges that they've presided over a culture of corruption:
"There is no doubt that the charges, the conduct of any Democrat, is going to be raised by those who question our attacks on a culture of corruption as a way to divert attention from that," said Representative Lloyd Doggett, Democrat of Texas and a vocal critic of Representative Tom DeLay, the former majority leader.
Mr. DeLay stepped down from his leadership post and announced he would leave Congress after he was indicted in Texas on charges that he had used campaign contributions illegally and came under partisan fire for his ties to Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist who has pleaded guilty in a wide-ranging public corruption inquiry.
Representative Rahm Emanuel of Illinois, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said Mr. Jefferson's situation was that of an individual who had yet to be charged formally. The Democratic case against Republicans, he suggested, went to a pattern of trading influence for personal gain within an incestuous world of revolving-door staff members, lobbyists and campaign fund-raisers that Republicans helped establish.
"They are different scales," Mr. Emanuel said. "One is a party outlook and operation; the other is an individual's action. They have institutional corruption."
Even before the case against Mr. Jefferson became public, Republicans were pointing to ethical questions about the activities of another Democrat, Representative Alan B. Mollohan of West Virginia, who is under F.B.I. scrutiny for his personal finances and his efforts to steer millions of dollars to nonprofit organizations that he helped control.
Of course, this is only the start of the honor roll of Democrats currently accused of questionable ethics. The list includes the aforementioned Jefferson and Mollohan, as well as Cynthia McKinney, Joe Baca, Patrick Kennedy, Charlie Schumer, John Conyers, and Jim McDermott. Depending on how stringent you want to get, there are other names you could add to that list. For example, Harry Reid still hasn't had much to say about the donations he received from Jack Abramoff.
I guess that ultimately, I do have to agree with Congressional Democrats on one thing: when you have this many people behaving badly, you have to wonder what's wrong with the enforcement system. It's not encouraging that no one is proposing a change to the system - either establishing an indepedent panel, or some other new approach.
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