Monday, August 28, 2017

Political Corruption-- Plenty To Go Around For Both Contemptible King's Landing Parties


On Wednesday we briefly mentioned that corrupt sack of crap Robert Menendez (D-NJ) is probably going to prison-- and could wind up giving Trump the majority he needs in the Senate to pass his toxic agenda. That would pre-suppose Chris Christie naming Menendez's replacement. Tom Moran's column in yesterday's Star Ledger reassures people that though Menendez will probably be thrown out of the Senate, he won't happen until Christie is out of office and Phil Murphy is able to replace him (possibly with someone far worse, by the way, Donald Norcross, another corrupt bucket of excrement in the Jersey tradition).

One thing that is the most bipartisan in DC is corruption. Count on it. In an OpEd earlier this month for the Dallas News Ruth May noted that "Party loyalty is often cited as the reason that GOP leaders have not been more outspoken in their criticism of President Donald Trump and his refusal to condemn Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. Yet there may be another reason that top Republicans have not been more vocal in their condemnation. Perhaps it's because they have their own links to the Russian oligarchy that they would prefer go unnoticed. Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin's favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank."

She seems to have forgotten to mention that the Russian Mafia/Putin ally she's talking about, Warner Music owner Leonard Blavatnik, also gave big bucks to corrupt corporate Democrats like Chuck Schumer, Joe Biden, Joe Manchin, Evan Bayh, Rahm Emanuel, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford and, of course Hillary Clinton. Sorry to be a party pooper but the Democratic Party lives in poop, essentially no less than the Republican Party. Over the weekend, Elena Schneider and Austin Wright, reporting for Politico told the story about how Democrats are exploiting GOP ethics woes for the midterms. I hope it's Joe Crowley, arguably the most corrupt man to ever serve in Congress, leading the charge against the GOP. But, yeah, there are plenty of ultra corrupt Republicans. I hope at least one or two of them wind up sharing a cell with Bob Menendez.
Duncan Hunter’s Southern California district isn’t normally a serious target for Democrats. But a criminal investigation into allegations of campaign funds for personal use-- including flying his pet rabbit across the country-- isn't exactly normal either.

Hunter is one of a handful of House Republicans in ethical hot water that could put their typically safe seats at risk. And the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is planning to exploit their troubles in 2018 in the hopes of notching long-shot victories that could be the difference between winning the House or falling just short.

...Democrats are forging ahead. Among the incumbents on their early target list are California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, whose ties to Russian officials have come under scrutiny and was once warned by the FBI that Russian spies were trying to recruit him; New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, who faces an ethics complaint from an outside watchdog group over a letter that some perceived as targeting an activist; New York Rep. Chris Collins, whose stock-market investments are under investigation; Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte, who pleaded guilty to assault for attacking a reporter; and California Rep. Devin Nunes, whose handling of classified information is being investigated by the House Ethics Committee.

Republicans are quick to point out Democrats’ own ethical dust-ups, such as former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s refusal for months to fire an aide at the center of a criminal investigation potentially affecting dozens of Democratic lawmakers. (Wasserman Schultz's South Florida district is heavily Democratic.)

In California, Rep. Ami Bera’s father is currently serving jail time after being convicted of election fraud in connection with his son’s campaigns for the competitive Sacramento-area district in 2010 and 2012. And in Pennsylvania, the feds accused Rep. Robert Brady of paying an opponent $90,000 to drop out and then trying to cover it up. (Brady hasn't been charged and denies any wrongdoing.)

"Democrats are living in a glass house on this one,” said Jesse Hunt, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Referring to the Wasserman Schultz aide, he added: “After a staffer for multiple House Democrats was recently arrested for bank fraud while trying to flee the country to Pakistan, they lost any shred of credibility on ethical issues."

But Democrats believe the accountability messaging in individual GOP districts where incumbents are hamstrung by ethics problems puts independents and soft Republican voters within their reach.

“When the names of ethically challenged Republicans keep piling up-- Hunter, Collins, Rohrabacher and Gianforte with more to come, it’s no longer about a single person,” said John Lapp, former DCCC executive director. “It becomes a disturbing pattern of systemic Republican congressional corruption.”

Just up the coast of California, one of Rohrabacher’s Democratic opponents, Harley Rouda, is calling for the FBI to investigate the incumbent's “political and financial ties to Russia." The congressman met with Julian Assange and is a longtime supporter of the Russian government. He's often mentioned in news coverage of the ongoing investigation into Russia’s attempts to undermine the 2016 presidential election.

Those ethical questions are popping up in Rouda’s digital ads attacking Rohrabacher, which exhort voters to “clean house.”

Rohrabacher, who's cruised to reelection for years, has drawn two well-funded Democratic challengers, Rouda and Hans Keirstead.

“The cold hard reality is there hasn’t been a competitive Democratic campaign [in the past] to inform the electorate of Dana’s failed and reckless agenda,” said Dave Jacobson, Rouda’s consultant on the race.

In New Jersey, an ethics watchdog group filed a complaint against Frelinghuysen after the congressman wrote a letter to a board member of a bank singling out one of its employees as a liberal activist. Saily Avelenda wasn’t fired or asked to resign, but she told Politico that she felt pressure to not publicize her ties to a local progressive group.

Frelinghuysen, a 22-year incumbent, hasn’t faced a serious challenge in years. But Mikie Sherrill, a Navy veteran and a former federal prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, hopes to break the streak. She said Frelinghuysen’s ethical troubles come up “in community meetings, at coffee meet-and-greets,” as it’s “part of the larger conversation as to why we need to have change here and he’s not acting like a leader.”

In New York, House Ethics Committee investigators are questioning Collins’ role in recruiting investors for an Australian biotech company. But Collins’ defenders call the probe a “witch hunt.”

“I think it’s funny that the party of Robert Menendez, Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Corrine Brown is issuing guidance on running campaigns based on ethics,” said Chris Grant, Collins’ campaign consultant. Menendez is about to go to trial for alleged fraud and bribery, and Brown, a former congresswoman, was found guilty of misusing funds.

Earlier this week, Gianforte was ordered to be photographed and fingerprinted for assaulting a reporter, which could soon give his opponents the chance to use a mugshot in future ads.

Nancy Ohanian: Bought and Paid Justice

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