“Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” 2009
1. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY): In addition to her long and sordid ethics record, Senator Hillary Clinton took a lot of heat in 2007 – and rightly so –
for blocking the release her official White House records. Many suspect these records contain a treasure trove of information related to her role in a number of serious Clinton-era scandals.
Moreover, in March 2007, Judicial Watch filed an ethics complaint against Senator Clinton for filing false financial disclosure forms with the U.S. Senate (again). And Hillary’s top campaign contributor, Norman Hsu, was exposed as a felon and a fugitive from justice in 2007. Hsu pleaded guilt to one count of grand theft for defrauding investors as part of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.
2. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI): Conyers reportedly repeatedly violated the law and House ethics rules, forcing his staff to serve as his personal servants, babysitters, valets and campaign workers while on the government payroll. While the House Ethics Committee investigated these allegations in 2006, and substantiated a number of the accusations against Conyers, the committee blamed the staff and required additional administrative record-keeping and employee training. Judicial Watch obtained documentation in 2007 from a former Conyers staffer that sheds new light on the activities and conduct on the part of the Michigan congressman, which appear to be at a minimum inappropriate and likely unlawful. Judicial Watch called on the Attorney General in 2007 to investigate the matter.
3. Senator Larry Craig (R-ID): In one of the most shocking scandals of 2007, Senator Craig was caught by police attempting to solicit sex in a Minneapolis International Airport men’s bathroom during the summer. Senator Craig reportedly “sent signals” to a police officer in an adjacent stall that he wanted to engage in sexual activity.
When the police officer showed Craig his police identification under the bathroom stall divider and pointed toward the exit, the senator reportedly exclaimed ‘No!’” When asked to produce identification, Craig presented police his U.S. Senate business card and said, “What do you think of that?” The power play didn’t work. Craig was arrested, charged and entered a guilty plea. Despite enormous pressure from his Republican colleagues to resign from the Senate, Craig refused.
4. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA): As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s subcommittee on military construction, Feinstein reviewed military construction government contracts, some of which were ultimately awarded to URS Corporation and Perini, companies then owned by Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum. While the Pentagon ultimately awards military contracts, there is a reason for the review process. The Senate’s subcommittee on Military Construction’s approval carries weight. Sen. Feinstein, therefore, likely had influence over the decision making process.
Senator Feinstein also attempted to undermine ethics reform in 2007, arguing in favor of a perk that allows members of Congress to book multiple airline flights and then cancel them without financial penalty. Judicial Watch’s investigation into this matter is ongoing.
5. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-NY): Giuliani came under fire in late 2007 after it was discovered the former New York mayor’s office “billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons…”
ABC News also reported that Giuliani provided Nathan with a police vehicle and a city driver at taxpayer expense. All of this news came on the heels of the federal indictment on corruption charges of Giuliani’s former Police Chief and business partner Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting a $165,000 bribe in the form of renovations to his Bronx apartment from a construction company attempting to land city contracts.
6. Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR): Governor Huckabee enjoyed a meteoric rise in the polls in December 2007, which prompted a more thorough review of his ethics record. According to The Associated Press: “[Huckabee’s] career has also been colored by 14 ethics complaints and a volley of questions about his integrity, ranging from his management of campaign cash to his use of a nonprofit organization to subsidize his income to his destruction of state computer files on his way out of the governor’s office.” And what was Governor Huckabee’s response to these ethics allegations? Rather than cooperating with investigators, Huckabee sued the state ethics commission twice and attempted to shut the ethics process down.
7. I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby: Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000 for lying and obstructing the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. Libby was found guilty of four felonies — two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements to the FBI and one count of obstructing justice – all serious crimes. Unfortunately, Libby was largely let off the hook. In an appalling lack of judgment, President Bush issued “Executive Clemency” to Libby and commuted the sentence.
8. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL): A “Dishonorable Mention” last year, Senator Obama moves onto the “ten most wanted” list in 2007. In 2006, it was discovered that Obama was involved in a suspicious real estate deal with an indicted political fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko. In 2007, more reports surfaced of deeper and suspicious business and political connections It was reported that just two months after he joined the Senate, Obama purchased $50,000 worth of stock in speculative companies whose major investors were his biggest campaign contributors. One of the companies was a biotech concern that benefited from legislation Obama pushed just two weeks after the senator purchased $5,000 of the company’s shares. Obama was also nabbed conducting campaign business in his Senate office, a violation of federal law.
9. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who promised a new era of ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, snuck a $25 million gift to her husband, Paul Pelosi, in a $15 billion Water Resources Development Act recently passed by Congress. The pet project involved renovating ports in Speaker Pelosi’s home base of San Francisco. Pelosi just happens to own apartment buildings near the areas targeted for improvement, and will almost certainly experience a significant boost in property value as a result of Pelosi’s earmark.
Earlier in the year, Pelosi found herself in hot water for demanding access to a luxury Air Force jet to ferry the Speaker and her entourage back and forth from San Francisco non-stop, in unprecedented request which was wisely rejected by the Pentagon. And under Pelosi’s leadership, the House ethics process remains essentially shut down – which protects members in both parties from accountability.
10. Senator Harry Reid (D-NV): Over the last few years, Reid has been embroiled in a series of scandals that cast serious doubt on his credibility as a self-professed champion of government ethics, and 2007 was no different. According to The Los Angeles Times, over the last four years, Reid has used his influence in Washington to help a developer, Havey Whittemore, clear obstacles for a profitable real estate deal. As the project advanced, the Times reported, “Reid received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Whittemore.” Whittemore also hired one of Reid’s sons (Leif) as his personal lawyer and then promptly handed the junior Reid the responsibility of negotiating the real estate deal with federal officials. Leif Reid even called his father’s office to talk about how to obtain the proper EPA permits, a clear conflict of interest.
Here’s a few more Honorable Mentions.
Dick Cheney. He should really be number one but he managed to stay under the radar. Despite his role in the outing of Valerie Plame Scooter Libby fell on his sword for him. Cheney continued to rake in millions from Halliburton due to the war he started. Dick Cheney was indicted on corruption charges this November for his involvement with a prison company, the GEO group. With the Vice President is profiting from incarcerated inmates, its no wonder there are so many black men in jail.
Elliot Spitzer. While Elliot Spitzer may not be the first politician to take in the services of a hooker, he is probably the biggest hypocrite who did. Spitzer spent his career trying to clean up New York in the name of decency and the law. He then broke the law in a very indecent way.
Rod Blagojevich: At a time when America was given a new faith in politics and politicians, Blagojevich did a lot to reverse that trend. Blagojevich reinforced the stereotype that all politicians were self interested hypocrites. By publicly trying to trade Obama’s vacated Senate seat, for his own personal interest, Blagojevich reminded us of the old politicians of old who would jerk the public and lose their integrity for money and power.
William J. Jefferson
Rep. Charles B. Rangel (D-NY)
Most politicians bend the laws of the land and steal money or solicit bribes because they need the funds to support networks of patronage. Others do it in order to reward their nearest and dearest or to maintain a lavish lifestyle when their political lives are over.
But these mundane reasons fail to explain why some officeholders go on a rampage and binge on endless quantities of lucre. All rationales crumble in the face of a Mobutu Sese Seko or a Saddam Hussein or a Ferdinand Marcos who absconded with billions of US dollars from the coffers of Zaire, Iraq, and the Philippines, respectively.
These inconceivable dollops of hard cash and valuables often remain stashed and untouched, moldering in bank accounts and safes in Western banks. They serve no purpose, either political or economic. But they do fulfill a psychological need. These hoards are not the megalomaniacal equivalents of savings accounts. Rather they are of the nature of compulsive collections.
Erstwhile president of Sierra Leone, Momoh, amassed hundreds of video players and other consumer goods in vast rooms in his mansion. As electricity supply was intermittent at best, his was a curious choice. He used to sit among these relics of his cupidity, fondling and counting them insatiably.
While Momoh relished things with shiny buttons, people like Sese Seko, Hussein, and Marcos drooled over money. The ever-heightening mountains of greenbacks in their vaults soothed them, filled them with confidence, regulated their sense of self-worth, and served as a love substitute. The balances in their bulging bank accounts were of no practical import or intent. They merely catered to their psychopathology.
These politicos were not only crooks but also kleptomaniacs. They could no more stop thieving than Hitler could stop murdering. Venality was an integral part of their psychological makeup.
Kleptomania is about acting out. It is a compensatory act. Politics is a drab, uninspiring, unintelligent, and, often humiliating business. It is also risky and rather arbitrary. It involves enormous stress and unceasing conflict. Politicians with mental health disorders (for instance, narcissists or sychopaths) react by decompensation. They rob the state and coerce businessmen to grease their palms because it makes them feel better, it helps them to repress their mounting fears and frustrations, and to restore their sychodynamic equilibrium. These politicians and bureaucrats “let off steam” by looting.
Kleptomaniacs fail to resist or control the impulse to steal, even if they have no use for the booty. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR (2000), the bible of psychiatry, kleptomaniacs feel “pleasure, gratification, or relief when committing the theft.” The good book proceeds to say that ” … (T)he individual may hoard the stolen objects …”.
As most kleptomaniac politicians are also psychopaths, they rarely feel remorse or fear the consequences of their misdeeds. But this only makes them more culpable and dangerous.