Thursday, December 03, 2015

It's Not Just Sheldon Silver-- Routine Corruption Has Overwhelmed U.S. Politics On Every Level


Tuesday, in covering Sheldon Silver's guilty (on all counts) verdict, we mentioned that his attorneys had argued that in charging him, "Bharara had sought to criminalize the kinds of activity in which state legislators routinely engaged" (i.e., taking bribery and kickbacks). We sought to bolster the point by quoting Zephyr Teachout's assertion that  "The legal shades into the illegal [and] the structure of private campaign finance has essentially pre-corrupted our politicians, so that they can’t even recognize explicit bribery because it feels the same as what they do every day. When you spend a lifetime serving campaign donors, it may seem easy to serve them when they come with an outright bribe, because it doesn’t seem that different." Several Members of Congress contacted us to register complete agreement with that quote about how routine it makes outright corruption.

It is the bedrock on which the political careers of "leaders," not just like Silver, but like John Boehner, Chuck Schumer, Steve Israel, Steny Hoyer, Joe Crowley, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and other amoral congressional low-lifes thrive. It is interwoven through the entire American political system, both contemptible party establishments.

You may have noticed that Blue America has endorsed Eloise Gomez Reyes for state Assembly in California. She's running against a corrupt conservative incumbent, Cheryl Brown in San Bernardino County (Fontana, Colton, Rialto, western San Berdoo). An alum of Cal State, San Bernardino she was back at her alma mater recently, inspiring students. One asked her why she had abstained and voted against most important environmental legislation. Apparently it never dawned on her that "the utility companies give me so much money" is not an appropriate response. At least she didn't explicitly mention that one of her top campaign donors is Chevron, which is the case. In fact, the Sierra Club has called her out for taking $18,300 from Big Oil and then backing their toxic agenda. This year they assigned her a failing grade-- 67%, tied for 3rd worst in the legislature. Clean Water Action graded her a D, normally a grade Republicans get, not Democrats.

Cheryl Brown, Sheldon Silver... their contemptible behavior is exactly what elected officials do routinely engage in-- on both sides of the aisle-- without even dealing with the moral rot they have embraced. When Nebraska Republican Senate freshman Ben Sasse warned his colleagues on the Senate floor Tuesday that "the people despise us all," he wasn't even bringing up congressional corruption. In Congress, almost no one-- there are exceptions-- considers campaign contributions "bribery," although it certainly is. Back in September we shared a tape of Jim DeFede interviewing one of the more corrupt Members of Congress-- Chuck Schumer "rising star" Patrick Murphy-- in which DeFede asked a question Beltway reporters never do: "You sit on the House Financial Services Committee and you accepted a lot of money from banks on Wall Street. I could go through the list: CitiGroup, Bank of America, Credit Suisse, UBS, on down the line. You've accepted a lot of money from them. What are they expecting from you?" Murphy, taken aback, had a one word answer: "Nothing." Defied laughed in his face. "You think they expect nothing from you?" Murphy, a little panicked, started lying. "Nothing. I've never taken any pledge to not accept certain things. I don't tell people they're going to get anything but a hard-working Member of Congress... The vast majority of my support comes from low-dollar donations, people from across the state of Florida sending five, ten-dollar donations. You're not asking if I'm giving them any special commitments. That money adds up to significantly more than what these folks..."

But Murphy was lying. He didn't get the sobriquet "Wall Street's errand boy," because he doesn't deliver for Wall Street. And Wall Street delivers for him-- in the biggest of ways. In the history of Congress, the Finance Sector's top non-presidential recipient of routine bribes has been Murphy's mentor, New York crook Chuck Schumer ($23,538,638). That's an astronomical sum, almost identical to #2 and #3-- John Boehner and Mitch McConnell-- combined. But Schumer's been in Congress a very, very, very long time. Murphy is just starting out in the bribery business. Like most Members of the House Financial Services Committee, he's taking bribes from Wall Street. But in Murphy's case, he's taking the most bribes and he's the quintessential quid pro quo criminal. So far this year, Wall Street has shown Murphy its appreciation for services rendered by shouldering a very significant portion of the financing of his Senate campaign. Other than Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McCarthy, both Republican slaves to the banksters, Murphy has taken the most of anyone in the House from the Finance Sector-- $787,750, almost $200,000 more than Jeb Hensarling, the Chairman of House Financial Services, who along with the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee (until he became Speaker, Paul Ryan), Wall Street's fate is determined by. Ryan scooped up $589,288, a lot but, again, just about $200,000 less than the deceitful Florida novice who claims they don't expect anything from him at all. This year's dozen most corrupt members of the House, each of whom would make a good roommate for Sheldon Silver in prison:

When Bernie Sanders and Zephyr Teachout talk about getting big money out of politics, they really are talking about the way bribery has been made routine and legalistic by a system run by instinctual criminals like John Boehner and Chuck Schumer. The 3 biggest political contributions so far this cycle are $15 million, $11 million and $10 million from avaricious and predatory billionaires each hoping to elect despicable Texas neo-fascist Ted Cruz. Voters themselves should decide that those kinds of contributions-- and multimillion dollar contributions from Wall Street banksters, whether to Democrats Hillary Clinton and Chuck Schumer or to Republicans John McCain, Mark Kirk and Rob Portman-- disqualify those candidates from holding elective office. Until we do that we will be subjected to politicians who serve the interests not of their constituents but of the Finance Sector and other special interests in conflict with those of ordinary American families. This year Jeb Bush, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio, and Chris Christie are all being financed by these people, not by people. That's who their policy agenda is designed to appeal to, instead of to the needs of the American people, which, in effect, is exactly what Senator Sasse was trying to say in his first Senate speech Tuesday. This factoid below is not a coincidence:

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