Having had the worst 10 months for a House speaker in recent memory, Nancy Pelosi is patting herself on the back — to a fawning press. She told the Swamp blog (irony alert) at the Baltimore Sun:
“We have drained the swamp. We have passed historic legislation.”
Well, if you mean by draining the swamp declaring it a wetland and moving on, sure.
Not only does Jack Murtha’s Earmarks Inc. continue, but it welcomed a new franchisee: House Intelligence Chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, whose brother set up a PAC in March that quickly collected money from the clients of the Murtha-connected PMA lobbying group.
Last time I looked, Congressman Paul Kanjorski, D-Pa., still headed a committee even though he steered $10 million to a company headed by his nephews and daughter.
Surber is right of course. From Murtha to Kanjorski, Mollohan, Jefferson, Reyes and others -- Democrats are abusing their authority and linking donations to official actions. They have passed toothless ethics legislation and claimed it represented a great step forward. And now comes word that the Department of Justice is preparing to crack down on a whole range of abuses by Members of Congress, their staffs, and their campaigns:
Federal investigators are hinting that a fresh wave of campaign-related theft and corruption investigations of Members of Congress are moving through the pipeline, signaling that indictments may be on the horizon.
According to multiple sources and independent confirmation from agency officials, the Justice Department currently is honing in on the possible misuse of campaign money by Members and political candidates for personal country club dues, health club fees, non-campaign-related travel costs and other expenses that candidates are prohibited from paying out of their campaign war chests.
The Federal Election Commission also confirmed that it currently is investigating 10 embezzlement cases involving federal campaign committees — four more than its entire caseload in half a decade.
Officials from both agencies declined to name the Members or candidates involved in the investigations, which were first revealed at a legal seminar for the Practicing Law Institute in Washington, D.C., late last week by Craig Donsanto, head of the Justice Department’s election crimes branch, and David Mason, the FEC’s Republican-nominated vice chairman. A Justice Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday that corruption cases involving lawmakers and other public officials remain “a high priority for the Department of Justice.”
The piece mentions one specific Republican -- a former Congressman -- and a current sitting Democratic Congressman. Clearly there will be more.
One thing I'm curious about: these stepped-up investigations follow fairly closely on the successful effort of Republican and Democratic leaders in Congress to shield their offices from DoJ searches. I wonder if federal investigators decided that they needed to demonstrate that Members of Congress can't use their elected positions to cover up their lawbreaking. If so, it would be a fitting response.
Update: There's a good summary of Democratic ethics trouble over at Right Voices.