Sunday, June 07, 2009

Arizona Republican Jeff Flake-- Ethics Superstar... Or Partisan Hypocrite?


No matter how you slice it, no matter how you dice it, Arizona Congressman Jeff Flake is a reactionary and a knee-jerk obstructionist. But he's a reactionary because that's what he believes in, not because he's being paid by the special interests to support the atrocious policy agenda he backs. However-- unlike, say, a Michele Bachmann, a Pete Sessions or a Virginia Foxx-- Flake has one saving grace. He bills himself "the House's most ardent opponent of earmarks," and, although he undercuts his own case by focusing on Democratic crooks (like Blue Dog Travis Childers) instead of on the crooks in his own party, he's got a great idea: prohibiting members of Congress from accepting campaign contributions from anyone for whom they help with an earmark.
Rep. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has asked the House Ethics committee to deem political contributions a "financial interest." Under House rules, lawmakers cannot submit earmarks if they have a financial interest in the business benefiting from the earmark.

If I remember correctly, New Hampshire Democrat Paul Hodes already introduced actual non-partisan legislation last April that is trying to do what Flake is grandstanding about. In fact, Hodes' bill is much stronger than what Flake is doing. According to Hodes' proposal if a member even requests an earmark for someone-- whether they get it or not-- they are precluded from getting any campaign contributions from that person or entity.

Flake should stop playing partisan games with ethics and stop painting earmarks as a Democratic Party problem when it is clearly just a problem of corrupt Washington insiders that will only be solved when election campaigns are publicly financed.
“As long as we award no-bid contracts to private companies, the ethical cloud will continue to hang over Congress,” said Flake. “It’s difficult to argue with the perception that the earmark process is a pay-to-play system when the executives of the private companies that receive these earmarks turn around and make campaign contributions to those members who secured the earmarks.”

Flake should address his concerns to five of the biggest crooks in Congress, all in his own party's leadership: John Boehner (R-OH), Eric Cantor (R-VA), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Pete Sessions (R-TX) and Paul Ryan (R-WI). And perhaps he could have a talk with his Arizona colleague Jon Kyl, one of the most corrupt hacks in the history of the United States Senate. Kyl, the Republican Senate Whip, has always been the surest vote for corporate interests every single day of his disgraceful career-- even as he takes unimaginable amounts of thinly veiled bribes from the most pernicious vested interests with business before the Senate, like the banksters ($3,711,808), the Medical-Industrial Complex ($1,971,468), Agribusiness ($811,544), the War Industry ($370,110), Big Oil ($320,882) and lobbying firms ($279,356). Jeff Flake's laments about corruption in Congress will have more credibility if he stops whining about crooked Democrat Jack Murtha and starts hammering his own caucus and his own Arizona colleagues.

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At 6:27 PM, Blogger Jack Jodell said...

Outstanding post! It would be interesting to list the major contributors and dollar amounts they contributed to all of these special interest suck-ups like Kyl, Boehner, Cantor, and all the rest. I'd be happy to undertake the task on a regular basis. Where does one best find this data? Thank you---I can't wait to start. IU'd love to nail my state's own Michele Bachmann first!

At 6:49 PM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

Jack, thanks for the offer. There are several places online offering an opportunity to see where our political class gets its bribes. The easiest is Open Secrets. Play around with it and you'll discover some fascinating information. The deeper you dig, the more you'll find.

At 2:13 AM, Blogger Daro said...

There's a million ways around this of course. An oil company can simply set up a "Save The Whale" trust that donates money instead of directly. It just drives the bribery underground. I don't understand how American lawmakers are allowed to receive direct cash contributions at all. Donations should be anonymous. It doesn't stop people supporting lawmakers on their respective policy stances, just removes the ability to influence future policy.


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