Saturday, June 11, 2016

Being Conservative And Being Corrupt Are Overlapping States Of Existence


The nature of political conservatism is corruption

Friday morning the House rejected a plan to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics-- which concerned me, because I just filed a complaint against corrupt conservative Patrick Murphy with it. Right wing New Mexico multimillionaire oil industry crook, Stevan Pearce (R) was behind an amendment to kill it by taking $191,000 out of its budget. It lost 137-270, with most Republicans (134 of 'em) voting with Pearce but with all but 3 egregiously corrupt conservative Democrats and 102 Republicans voting NO. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, one of the most corrupt people to ever sit in Congress, warned other corrupt members that the optics on Pearce's amendment would look bad and "it would make it appear as if lawmakers were trying to limit accountability," something, of course, she's eager to do, but not as blatantly as what Pearce proposed.

One of her closest cronies in crime, Alcee Hastings, who lives for corruption and has no other function in Congress or in life, voted with the GOP against it, as did serial bribe-taker Collin Peterson (Blue Dog-MN) and Kyrsten Sinema (Blue Dog-AZ), who always votes with the GOP unless forced to do otherwise by her liege lord, Steny Hoyer, who rarely asks her to stray from a straight-up Republican line. Patrick Murphy (FL), on the other hand, who has spent his entire congressional career voting with the GOP Sinema-style, is now in a tough senate primary against Alan Grayson and he was warned to pretend to be a Democrat and to try voting with the Democrats most of the time. So, as much as he wishes there was no Office of Congressional Ethics, he voted NO Friday.

Another crooked Florida politician, this one Republican Mario Diaz-Balart could barely wait to cast a vote against ethics in government, something the Diaz-Balart family has never embraced. We spoke with Alina Valdes, the progressive Democrat running for his seat and she didn't seem surprised that Diaz-Balart voted to de-fund and debilitate the Office of Congressional Ethics. "It seems that  Mario Diaz-Balart," she told us, "the Republican incumbent running for re-election in Florida's 25th congressional district, has something to hide as he voted aye to gut the Office of Congressional Ethics. His fellow Cuban Republican allies in neighboring South Florida districts 26 and 27 voted no and by a 2 to 1 majority, the noes persevered and the amendment did not pass. Unfortunately for the Diaz-Balart dynasty, their longstanding corruption dating back to Cuba and the Batista regime, will still need to be accountable for their actions."

Another member eager to get rid of ethics oversight in Congress is Texas extremist Lamar Smith, who represents a part of the state-- the Austin-San Antonio corridor where accountability and transparency is recognized as important for a democratically functioning government. We reached out to the progressive Democrat running for the seat Smith is sitting in, Tom Wakely. Hours after the vote, he told us that "Lamar Smith has represented my district for nearly 30 years, so while it's extremely disheartening that he'd like to cripple an entity whose sole responsibility is exposing congressional corruption, it isn't terribly surprising. Democrats and Republicans have been investigated by the [OCE], and while Lamar would likely use its creator Nancy Pelosi as a scapegoat for his reactionary vote, it should certainly give his constituents cause for concern. Personally, I'd like to see us expand their funding and capabilities. If members of Congress have nothing to hide, why wouldn't they agree with that sentiment? The public would certainly benefit from the increased transparency."

Many congressional observers have pointed out that in recent years, Michigan oligarch Fred Upton has been one of the most blatantly and systematically corrupt of the GOP committee chairmen. We spoke with Paul Clements, who was busy campaigning for the southwest Michigan congressional seat Upton has been disgracing. "Is it any surprise," he asked, "that one of the biggest recipients of out-of-state PAC contributions in the House, with most contributors in industries he is responsible to regulate, should want to cut funding to the Office of Congressional Ethics? When I was running against Fred Upton in 2014 the citizen’s group Mayday, established to reduce the corrupting influence of money in American politics, identified Upton as 'one of the most corrupted by big money in Congress,' and came in to support my race. Then Upton indicated in a press interview that one of his committee staffers (a government employee) was calling Mayday contributors to complain. When corporate funds are sloshing through the halls of Congress we have to expect power to corrupt, and this looks to me like a prime example. With the current tidal wave of Big Money in American politics, the Office of Congressional Ethics is not much more than a fig leaf. But at least it can address some of the worst offenses, and the threat of action deters others. Democratic governance depends absolutely on transparency and accountability; it makes no sense to undermine one of the fragile institutions that stands in the way of overt corruption."

Friday one of the most powerful politicians in Albama-- again, a corrupt conservative-- House Speaker Mike Hubbard, was convicted on 12 felony ethics charges, mandating his removal from office. He'll be sentenced in July and faces up to 20 years in prison and as much as $360,000 in fines.
In court filings, prosecutors paint a picture of a desperate, down-on-his-luck man who used "the mantle of office" to embezzle over $1 million to Hubbard's printing and media businesses.

...Chief Justice Roy Moore, head of the Alabama Supreme Court, has been suspended on charges he violated judicial ethics in ordering probate judges to ignore the federal ruling allowing same-sex marriages ...[and Albama] Gov. Robert Bentley is facing allegations he had an affair with a former staffer and used public funds to facilitate and hide it.
All conservatives with corruption in their political DNA. Alabama is, at least for now, hopeless. But please consider helping replace corruptionists, Mario Diaz-Balart, Lamar Smith and Fred Upton with progressive reformers, Alina Valdes, Tom Wakely and Paul Clements, all of whom are on the same page this thermometer leads to:
Goal Thermometer

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