Saturday, October 31, 2009

Why Don't We Call Bribery "Bribery" When It Involves Senators Wives Getting Paid Off For Their Husband's Votes?


Not a Halloween montage, but no lobbying allowed in these families

I'd be more interested in knowing how the Justice Department investigations into the most corrupt members of Congress-- like the 3 Inland Empire crooks, Jerry Lewis, Ken Calvert and Gary Miller-- are progressing, but yesterday the Washington Post published a leak showing that more than 30 House members are being looked at by the largely ineffective Ethics Committee. As always-- going back to the days when Jerry Lewis ran it and Duke Cunningham and Duncan Hunter ran rampant-- the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee is a major focus. Todd Tiahrt, a teabagger-supported candidate for the open Kansas Senate seat is one member who has been trading earmarks for campaign cash.

Aside from the regular crooked dealers we've all been waiting to get carted off to prison, like Charlie Rangel, I was especially happy to see that Blue Dog Jane Harman's activities on behalf of another country are being looked into:
The committee on June 9 authorized issuance of subpoenas to the Justice Department, the National Security Agency and the FBI for "certain intercepted communications" regarding  Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.). As was reported earlier this year, Harman was heard in a 2005 conversation agreeing to an Israeli operative's request to try to obtain leniency for two pro-Israel lobbyists in exchange for the agent's help in lobbying  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to name her chairman of the intelligence committee. The department, a former U.S. official said, declined to respond to the subpoena.

This week investigative journalist Joe Conason took corruption investigating to a much-needed level the feds have generally avoided-- how members of Congress use their spouses to collect millions of dollars in bribes from corporate interests. It's hardly a new phenomenon, and John Doolittle isn't in Congress any longer because of it. But Conason shines a much needed light on two sickeningly sanctimonious hypocrites: Joe Lieberman and Evan Bayh.
If Democrats are disappointed by Joe Lieberman’s threat to filibuster any healthcare reform bill that includes a public option, they shouldn't be. Despite all of his past promises to support universal healthcare, nothing was more predictable than the Connecticut senator's fealty to the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists.

Much the same can be said of Sen. Evan Bayh, who emerged from hiding on healthcare to announce that he too plans to filibuster against reform with the Republicans, regardless of what his constituents and Americans in general plainly want. Like Lieberman, his state is home to powerful corporations that want reform killed-- and like Lieberman, his wife has brought home very big paychecks from those same interests.

The Lieberman family's financial ties to the health industry are no secret, yet their full extent remains unknown. During her husband's 2006 reelection campaign, Hadassah Lieberman's employment as a "senior counselor" to Hill & Knowlton, one of the world’s biggest lobbying firms, briefly erupted as an issue, especially because the clients she served were in the controversial pharmaceutical and insurance sectors. Exactly what she did for those clients has never been disclosed.

...The best that can be said about the Lieberman family's conflict of interest is that it appears to have ended in 2005-- while the Bayh family continues to collect enormous amounts of money from the same health insurance and drug companies that will benefit from her husband’s actions. Indeed, the smell of ethical rot arising from the Bayh household is even worse than the self-serving aroma that surrounds the Liebermans.

Susan Bayh was invited to join the board of Wellpoint back in 1998, when the Indiana-based company was still called Anthem Insurance and had not yet completed the mergers that made it the largest health insurer in America (and gave it monopoly status in many regions of the country). According to her official biography on Wellpoint's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, her qualifications to sit on the board of a billion-dollar corporation were minimal, to put it politely. She was 38 years old, teaching law at a local university, with limited experience as a corporate attorney at Eli Lilly & Co., the big pharmaceutical company that is also headquartered in Indiana. But then her husband, Evan, after two terms as governor, had just been elected to the United States Senate.

Susan Bayh's compensation from Wellpoint, including the stock options that she has exercised repeatedly over the past 10 years, has reached an estimated $2 million, including last year's director salary of over $300,000. She is the only director who, according to the most recent SEC filing, actually owns no shares in the company, because she sells as soon as her options become available. In January 2007, she exercised her options to acquire 3,333 shares of Wellpoint for an estimated cost of $147,000-- and sold them the same day for an estimated price of $260,000, netting a tidy sum of $113,000. She repeated the same process five months later for a net profit of $136,000, and then seven months after that, selling another 1,430 shares for $123,000. That represented profits of nearly $400,000 on top of her salary.

Evidently Susan Bayh is most interested in accumulating wealth, and so far she has done a fine job. The Bayhs are now worth somewhere between $5 million and $10 million, an amount that was not scrimped from Evan's salary in the Senate. In 2007 he reassured a Fort Wayne newspaper in sonorous tones that sounded Liebermanesque: "I can honestly tell you that if my wife did not have a job, none, I can't think of a single decision I've made that would be any different. I look at what's best for our state and our country and my own conscience. My integrity matters more to me than anything, so I always do what's right for the people who put their trust in me."

Evan Bayh claims Susan Bayh isn't allowed to lobby him on matters regarding the companies she's financially involved with. Whew! I wonder if there's another repeat about that Balloon Boy show on TV today.

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At 6:26 AM, Blogger Patty said...

Excellent post! I will be reposting it far & wide.

Thank you

At 1:58 PM, Blogger darter22 said...

Why isn't this being prosecuted as a crime?


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