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November 14, 2006

Comments

We have a long, long way to go before we approach GOP levels of corruption, but this is, to put it mildly, not a good start.

I'll step in and take the other side. Does anyone here think that considering to take a bribe from oil rich Arabs in the 70's must translate into someone who is willing to sell out to Haliburton or whoever. Perhaps, but given the deep ties Murtha has forged with those in the military, it is difficult to imagine him doing something to sell them or this country out in the current situation we are in. It is sometimes better to have someone who has an idea of what lies on the other side than to have someone so clean that they can't really imagine the pressures and stresses involved.

In that case, Mr. Murtha was among lawmakers caught on film being offered bribes by F.B.I. agents posing as Arab businessmen. Mr. Murtha, a protégé of Speaker Thomas P. O’Neill Jr., refused a bribe, saying he was not interested “at this point.”

I'd hesitate to condemn someone for turning down a bribe in those terms - especially if the person being offered a bribe believed they were being offered a bribe by businessmen whose normal mode of operation includes bribery.

There's no doubt, though, that Republicans will pick on everything - and this is something for them to pick on.

Murtha: Ugh

Hey! ;-)

Given her “Clean House Team”, running against the “Republican Culture of Corruption”, and her pledge to give us the cleanest House ever – I don’t call this an auspicious start. First Hastings, now Murtha – I would think you would want to start out with people who were squeaky clean.

Frankly, it seems to be more about petty vindictiveness than anything else.

OTOH, this started my day with a chuckle: (via Insty)

-Assume the GOP ends up with 203-or so-seats when all the recounts are over. And say all 203 of those Republican Members of the House were to tell Steny Hoyer that they feel his pain over the Pelosi/Murtha thing and they have decided to vote for him for Speaker.

-If Hoyer went into the election for Speaker with 203 GOP votes, he would only need to find 15 Democrats who don't like or trust Pelosi (not exactly a stretch) to get to the magic number of 218 - an absolute majority of the 435 Members - and Mrs. Pelosi would be a very important member of the House Appropriations Committee. Period.

-Republicans could look the Popular Press squarely in the eye and say: "What higher level of bipartisanship can there be than crossing over the aisle to vote for the other party?"

OCSteve: Given her “Clean House Team”, running against the “Republican Culture of Corruption”, and her pledge to give us the cleanest House ever – I don’t call this an auspicious start. First Hastings, now Murtha – I would think you would want to start out with people who were squeaky clean.

True. *grins* Is there anybody squeaky clean in Washington? ;-)

On the one hand: If all there is against Murtha is that, on being offered a bribe, he didn't turn it down as firmly as he should have, that's not so very bad - he did turn it down, after all, in an entrapment situation. (How strongly were the FBI agents offering to bribe him?) I agree with Hilzoy that:

Conceivably, Pelosi has gotten some assurances that Murtha would support serious ethics reform; if he is, in fact, on board for a strong ethics package, that would be good, but I'll reserve judgment on that one until I see the package in question.
Absolutely, the important thing for the Democratic party is a strong reform platform: if Murtha's on board with that (and has a good strong answer about how he responded to the FBI agents trying to entrap him into accepting a bribe) then that could work.

What's Murtha's record been since then?

I've just gotten home from aikido, so just a few observations not backed up by Google searches. Murtha was caught up, iirc, in Abscam, and (again iirc) the probe was stopped not because they had pulled out all of the bad apples, but because if they had continued, they would have depopulated both Houses of Congress (I believe that the comment was that the probe was stopped because it would have changed the political landscape) It was a sting, which always raises questions of motivations and abscam was run by a convicted con artist in a con that resembles a lot of spam we get (help this sheik get his money out of the country)

While I admit that being cleaner than the Republicans is far too low a bar to clear, I think that there is a reasonably high bar that would nonetheless not demand that the Dems have nothing but Eagle Scouts and saints.

Over at TPM, one reader suggests that this is Pelosi making a bid to impose party discipline, so in this light, I can say it is about damn time. Yes, it is personal (as is taking Harman off the intelligence subcommittee), but that party discipline is, as we have seen with the Republicans, only workable is there is a realization that the political is personal, and no one gets a free pass.

if Abscam becomes a big issue, there's a certain balding Senator from AZ who could use some attention, too...

I don't think you can have a Murtha conversation that references Abscam without a link to the full-length video.

It looks to me as if Murtha is spending a great deal of time clarifying the terms of a future exchange of services for cash. I'd be interested in how others see it.

It looks to me as if Murtha is spending a great deal of time clarifying the terms of a future exchange of services for cash. I'd be interested in how others see it.

Sounds like a taxable transaction to me, although as an individual who acconts for transactions on a cash basis, Murtha wouldn't owe any taxes until he was paid.

"Murtha: Ugh

Hey! ;-)"

I thought it was an SAT-type analogy. As in:

Murtha: Ugh :: _____ : hilzoy

A. John Kerry.
B. George W. Bush.
C. Nancy Pelosi.
D. Steny Hoyer.

Jes: True. *grins* Is there anybody squeaky clean in Washington?

Unfortunately, likely not anyone who has been there long enough to have the seniority for these positions.

On the one hand: If all there is against Murtha is that, on being offered a bribe, he didn't turn it down as firmly as he should have, that's not so very bad - he did turn it down, after all, in an entrapment situation.

That is what the short snippet making the rounds shows. But the whole reel is a little more damning.

Before that snippet, he says (paraphrasing), “I want to deal with you a while first… I might change my mind after we’ve done some business… brags about his clout… raises concerns that down the road someone gets nabbed and rolls over on him… let me find out a reasonable figure to get their attention… ”. Then the snippet. Then again, “let’s do business for a while first, then you make me an offer, it may change my mind”.

He doesn’t come across as turning it down out of principal, he comes across as I don’t trust you yet and it is not enough money.

Also, recall that the government prosecutor quit on the spot when the committee voted not to indict.

Again, I don’t do dictation and I haven’t found a complete transcript that I can link (a source you wouldn’t discount) – so watch the video for yourself.

What's Murtha's record been since then?

1997:
Amendment to disallow non-Members of Congress from filing ethics complaints, require all ethics complaints be sponsored by a sitting member.

2005:
KSA Consulting – still unresolved?

2006: CREW (left-leaning) adds him to their “Most Corrupt Members of Congress Report”.

And the man is known for dealing pork.

Anyway, squeaky clean is tough to find. So how about someone with fewer ethical questions in their past?

OCSteve: That is what the short snippet making the rounds shows. But the whole reel is a little more damning.

Fair enough.

Amendment to disallow non-Members of Congress from filing ethics complaints, require all ethics complaints be sponsored by a sitting member.

Ah. Well, that's pretty damning in and of itself - and is a lot more recent than the bribery issue.

just for record, count me among those who simply cannot believe the Dems would do this - not because they're above it, but simply because they just won an election riding on the public's disgust of House corruption.

are they all really too stupid to see how nominating these corrupt scumbags is exactly the opposite of what people wanted when they voted D instead of R ?

are they all really too stupid to see how nominating these corrupt scumbags is exactly the opposite of what people wanted when they voted D instead of R ?

Exactly.

Well, at least our sleazebags aren't as dumb as the Republican ones. After all Murtha didn't take the bribe. What would Cunningham, Delay, or Ney have done?

On a more serious note--this may be a tempest in a teapot. Pelosi has some loyalty to Murtha but Hoyer has the votes. So she lets this letter get out to make Murtha feel affrimed, but lets Hoyer get elected. Everybody is happy. Or at least that's how the folks at Tapped see it.

1997:
Amendment to disallow non-Members of Congress from filing ethics complaints, require all ethics complaints be sponsored by a sitting member.

errr, are you suggesting that this was a sneaky attempt by Murtha? Because I believe it was actually part of the 'truce' that arose after Gingrich was ousted in early 97 because of ethical violations and a bipartisan effort to try and prevent a MAD scenario. By stopping non-members from filing ethical complaints, they could hold members accountable and avoid proxies with plausible deniability from filing such complaints. If you accept that 527s have become a problem in political discourse, then you can't claim that this step was somehow an underhanded move to insulate the House, because it was taking into account precisely the problematic forces that have emerged.

What would Cunningham, Delay, or Ney have done?

Tough call. Buy the new boat or the house? Offshore account in the Caymans or the Bahamas? Damn, this legislat’in is tough.

they could hold members accountable and avoid proxies with plausible deniability from filing such complaints

I recall viewing it as more of a ‘we can police our own’ measure. I do see your point, but I felt that if any government official, even any citizen is willing to file a complaint and then face the full scrutiny of the Ethics Committee to support that complaint, they should be allowed to do so.

Just to clarify OCSteve's CREW link, Murtha is not one of CREW's 20 most corrupt members of Congress. He's listed as one of the 5 members to watch. Not that that's much better.

I just updated to include the pice lily mentioned, cited by TAPPED. It cites people saying: this is something Pelosi had to do because Murtha is her friend, but she knows that Hoyer has the votes and Murtha won't win.

If that's right, I'm baffled as to why Pelosi would have publicly come out for Murtha as strongly as she did. But I'd much rather be puzzled by that than be puzzled about why she'd actually bring about a Murtha victory.

Still, we shall see.

Well, at least our sleazebags aren't as dumb as the Republican ones

Ah, modern government: Dumb and less Dumb. At this rate, we'll have the government all cleaned up just in time for the Rapture.

Which will be any day now, I hear.

Meanwhile, interesting that the whole of Josh Marshall's initial commentary on Pelosi's selection of Murtha was:

All I can say is, that's bold. She's making a play to really rule the place.

It's not as if Murtha's past hasn't been dragged out extensively, or that the Abscam video was tightly-protected, was it? Ruling the place, though, is what's important.

Which, of course it is. Question is, how far out along the Tom Delay axis is just far enough?

"this is something Pelosi had to do because Murtha is her friend, but she knows that Hoyer has the votes and Murtha won't win."

Now I don't know much about parliamentary power, but that is a really strange thing to do when you are an untested, soon-to-be Speaker of the House. Having the very first exercise of your power fail, can't be good. And if you make it clear that you knew it would fail (to avoid questioning your power) it can't be much of a useful gesture "for a friend". Sounds more like spin than strategy. I guess we shall see.

"Conceivably, Pelosi has gotten some assurances that Murtha would support serious ethics reform; if he is, in fact, on board for a strong ethics package, that would be good, but I'll reserve judgment on that one until I see the package in question."

I'll not-particularly go out on a limb on this one. There won't be serious ethics reform. This is not an indictment of the Democrats per se, but rather an indictment of Congress as an institution. Exactly like 'campaign finance reform', 'ethics reform' in Congress is all about covering their butts.

Murtha is not one of CREW's 20 most corrupt members of Congress. He's listed as one of the 5 members to watch.

True – I should have noted the distinction. He didn’t make the top 20. I guess that is like (dis)Honorable Mention.

JFTR I thought that bit about redeploying to Okinawa was outstandingly stupid, too, but let's hope it doesn't get to the point where said redeployment makes an appearance on the political scene as a serious proposal.

Uh, I'm pretty lukewarm about Murtha-as-leader, but I actually watched the video and learned three things: a) Murtha cusses like a marine, b) he is very full of himself, and c) he was, from day one, singlemindedly focused on bringing money into his district.

In 1980. In Pennsylvania.

Oh and he's actually a lot more honest than I expected. I mean what exactly did you expect him to say? He tries repeatedly to tell the guy that he (the guy) doesn't need any legislation or favors; then he tries repeatedly to get the guy to be specific about what he wants... And the guy just keeps rambling. What the hell would you expect Murtha to say at that point? You do realize that about 65% of that conversation is about getting the Sheiks to invest in Murtha's district, right?

Murtha's initial advice to the agent is basically "you don't have to do anything." (the agent is trying to get Murtha to introduce legislation and/or influence the WH to protect the wealth of some Sheiks who want to plunder their countries' treasury and bring the proceeds to the US) Murtha goes so far as to say that he's "not being flip," but that people with money never have trouble getting into the country and that their Sheiks will be just fine even if they do nothing. After about twenty minutes, he even says, in so many words, that what he really wants is for the Sheiks to invest in his district -- to put their money in PA banks and eventually invest in PA mines (yes, this is sleazy and depressing in and of itself).

Basically, after about five minutes of trying to tell the agent that the agent's clients will be fine without any help from Murtha, followed by about 15 minutes of trying to figure out what exactly the agent wants Murtha to do, Murtha realizes that the agent is jerking him around and asking for an open commitment (i.e. that agent wants to "own" Murtha's future help instead of simply getting his assistance with a particular task that Murtha has already explained will be trivial). So Murtha switches gears and tries to get them to invest in his district.

Slart, Sebastian, OCSteve, that video is an hour long, guys. I'd be very surprised to hear that you watched the whole thing yourselves, but if you have, then let me know what you think the most incriminating parts are and we can drill down into the details.

But if you're going to claim that the incriminating parts are in the context, then let's be clear what the context is in this case. This is a Congresscritter who runs across a mark (somebody with more money than brains) and spends an hour trying to get the mark to commit his wealthy employers to investing in worthless terribly valuable banks and coal mines in the Congresscritter's district in exchange for a favor that the Congresscritter has tried to explain up front that the mark really doesn't need performed.

"Maybe I'll be innocent and maybe I won't" and the similar quotes were -- to my surprise -- less incriminating when listened to in context. By that point in the conversation, about half an hour in, the agent is furiously (and very transparently) trying to get Murtha to say something -- anything -- incriminating, while Murtha is furiously (and very transparently) trying to milk the agent into creating hundreds of mining jobs in Murtha's district.

It's sleazy and awful and a sucky way to do the people's business, but it's about as honest as the process gets nowadays.

" but I'll reserve judgment..."

This statement is the best thing about the Democratic win in Congress.

Finally, rational thought returns. How much more we could have accomplished if so many would have exercised that ability the previous 6 years. I guess BDS was just too powerful and now we atleast we know what the cure for it is.

It's a shame that some people can't be rational and in the minority at the same time.

bril: How much more we could have accomplished if so many would have exercised that ability the previous 6 years.

Interesting assertion. What exactly do you think that the Republican administration and the Republican-controlled Congress would have accomplished if not for the Democratic minority in Congress?

Just another example of the Democrats being held to a standard that the holder exempts the Republicans from, d'you think?

"I want to get the [deleted] jobs in the area."

"I think I can do more by being completely independent."

"It's hard for me -- it's hard for me to say, you know, just the hell with [the money], but I think this is the way I can do the best -- the most good."

"It's not even a matter of being nervous, it's a matter of, if I'm gonna get it done, I don't think I can pursue it the same way, because in politics, it's too easy to... as long as you got nothing to worry about you can go forward, you can make speeches on the floor and anything else..."

By the end, the agent is pretty much climbing the walls, trying to get Murtha to take the money: "We're going around and around about this whole thing." "I'm here to do business with him." "Y'know I don't like this." He makes a big deal about the safety of having only two people in the room ("That way it's just hearsay") and insists on sending in "Tony" to talk with Murtha.

He wants Murtha to give him the names of the banks, and tell him how much money to put in the banks. Murtha won't even do that.

Murtha replies "What we'll talk about though, is getting jobs in the district." "What I'll give you is a number of companies, that could provide jobs, that could give me a link to the district..."

Make no mistake. Murtha is definitely cutting a sleazy deal with these guys, after telling them up front that he doesn't think they need his help in the first place. And he's going to great lengths to explain that he's no boy scout. Mind you, "Howard" has told him before the meeting that the agents would refuse to make any deals unless Murtha was willing to take a direct and explicit bribe.

Watch the whole thing. Listen carefully.

Is there any provision for training new Congresspeople in how to deal with lobbyists and how to advocate for one's district ethically? Or are the newbies just to supposed to stubble around until someone (Murtha, perhaps) shows them the ropes?

I guess BDS was just too powerful and now we atleast we know what the cure for it is.

physician, heal thyself - that Liberal Derangement Syndrome can lead to some nasty things, if not treated.

Maybe I'll be innocent and maybe I won't" and the similar quotes were -- to my surprise -- less incriminating when listened to in context.

Yes I did watch it all, and I’ll agree with you that a) the agent is too obviously trying to get him to say something dead to rights incriminating and, b) Murtha is very aware that there is a bribe on the table but he is not going to come out with the words the agent is looking for. He smells a rat, but he is not willing to close the door either.

If I can get you to agree to that much then I’ll leave it at that, and just say that he should have went to the FBI – he was on the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct at the time. Instead of going to the FBI, he ended up being named a co-conspirator, testified against 2 other Members, but was never indicted himself.

I’m willing to say he learned his lesson and never got that close to outright corruption again.

I am just not happy to see the new House starting out this way. I voted against the corruption in my own party. After the promises made and winning the election based on cleaning up the corruption (at least in part), Democrats should not even be giving the perception that they are going to let anyone with a tainted past assume these types of positions. It has been less than a week since the polls closed…

Make no mistake. Murtha is definitely cutting a sleazy deal with these guys, after telling them up front that he doesn't think they need his help in the first place.

Oh, sure. If I'd thought Murtha had actually committed a crime, I'd be saying different things; things to the effect that Murtha was a crook. As it is, Murtha was, by all appearances, having a conversation for possibility of bigger and better things, without having those pesky other guys around to horn in on the action. I did not say that he's committed a crime. Just that stringing the let's-make-a-deal conversation on for an hour with a guy who's overtly trying to bribe you...well, only an idiot could possibly miss that there's a crime in the offing.

So, not exactly your poster boy for second rank in the Axis of Ethics. Or, possibly more accurately, not my poster boy.

And just so I’m not beating solely on the Dems today – my so-called party has not made me any happier. They’ve made me angrier in fact.

Rove sandbags Steele because he wasn’t on board with Bush’s (McCain-Kennedy actually) “comprehensive reform plan”. So instead we get Martinez for RNC chair. Make that part-time RNC chair, because he is not even giving up his Senate seat.

That should settle any doubts on what kind of immigration ‘reform’ we are going to see within 2 years. You didn't even need the majority to get it - Bush and Rove handed it to you.

Mr. Steele – don’t take HUD if they offer it to you. Go back home and get ready to run for Governor in a few years.

The Republican House caucus? Let’s re-elect the same people (Boehner/Blunt) to leadership positions. Those folks who did so well as majority leaders? Surely they’ll be great as minority leaders.

Ugh!

I meant to ask, OCSteve, if you had any reason for describing CREW as "left-leaning" other than the fact that they'd identified more Republicans as corrupt than Democrats. I mean, even if politicians of both parties are equally corruptible, I'd expect the majority party to have more corruption, so I'd expect a neutral reporter to find results something like CREW's. But then I guess we're back to the facts having a well-known liberal bias.

I'm also surprised at your continued enthusiasm for Steele and his bused-in homeless people handing out lying flyers at the polls. It doesn't seem to fit with your concern about ethics.

speaking of corrupt Dems, Abramoff says he has the goods on a half-dozen seriously corrupt Democratic Senators.

yipe

I meant to ask, OCSteve, if you had any reason for describing CREW as "left-leaning" other than the fact that they'd identified more Republicans as corrupt than Democrats. I mean, even if politicians of both parties are equally corruptible, I'd expect the majority party to have more corruption, so I'd expect a neutral reporter to find results something like CREW's.

I’d agree with that. It’s based more on their Who We Are page. It doesn’t mean they don’t attempt to be non-biased, but their inherent cant is going to be leftward.

I'm also surprised at your continued enthusiasm for Steele and his bused-in homeless people handing out lying flyers at the polls. It doesn't seem to fit with your concern about ethics.

As I said in that thread (not the topic but it came up) his involvement is not clear to me, it seemed to be more about Ehrlich, he had been using ”Steele Democrats” throughout, the pamphlet was from a third party committee, etc. While not clear any crime was committed I agreed it was sleazy. If it’s tied back to him I will reconsider, but I’m not ready to throw him overboard just yet.

he had been using ”Steele Democrats” throughout,

and "Steele / Democrat" (no 's')

This post would be better with the title 'Murtha: Ugh. Hoyer: Ugh.'

Lily, for better or for worse this isn't just a gesture of endorsement by Pelosi. She's actively backing Murtha, making calls and twisting arms.

It'll be a bad start if she loses. But she's her dad's daughter, so I'm not betting against her. It'll take turnarounds from some of the chairs Hoyer had lined up to pull it off...

If I can get you to agree to that much then I’ll leave it at that, and just say that he should have went to the FBI

Oh yes, I agree wholeheartedly and unreservedly -- de facto he's an accessory to a crime. At the absolute frigging least he should have immediately notified both the FBI and the State Department. His testimony about that conversation would have been plenty to start an investigation, though presumably not enough for indictments. And if he didn't get timely results he should have filed an ethics complaint, on his own, against Thompson, and also contacted the DC Bar about both Howard and his lawyer friend. Etc etc. And a pony.

A younger me would be disappointed, but I've long since realized that this is how the sausage is made. That exact same conversation (sans the offer of cash perhaps) happens ten or twelve times a day every day that the Circus is in season. And right now all I care about is restoring the Constitution.

speaking of corrupt Dems, Abramoff says he has the goods on a half-dozen seriously corrupt Democratic Senators.

I could live with that. Despite the appearance of partisanship my defense of Murtha might suggest, I think seeing a few Dems hauled offstage along with the Pubs would be good for the country. Heck, maybe one of them will be Murtha or Hastings, and the "reasonable righties" can have nice little happy dance.

I thought the bit where Abramoff was "about to provide information about Bush administration officials, including Karl Rove, "accepting things of value" from Abramoff" was pretty interesting too...

Man I'm feeling popular on this thread.

OCSteve, the flyer says at the bottom "Paid and Authorized by Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee / Paid and Authorized by Steele for Maryland, Inc." I've been looking for a copy online, but I may have to post the one a friend sent me.

Cleek, if Abramoff really has the goods on half a dozen seriously corrupt Democratic senators, I find it impossible to believe that he doesn't also have the goods on a dozen or two seriously corrupt Republican senators -- not that that necessarily means Gonzales's Justice Department will do anything about it.

Ah, here it is.

Cleek, if Abramoff really has the goods on half a dozen seriously corrupt Democratic senators, I find it impossible to believe that he doesn't also have the goods on a dozen or two seriously corrupt Republican senators

oh, sure. and the article says he got info about "dozens" of people, including those Dems...and Rove.

OCSteve, the flyer says at the bottom "Paid and Authorized by Bob Ehrlich for Maryland Committee / Paid and Authorized by Steele for Maryland, Inc." I've been looking for a copy online, but I may have to post the one a friend sent me.

I could see parts of that, not much – overlaid by ads – maybe an IE thing?

So assuming that is true, the question I have to answer is, do I forgive this as par for the course, likely no laws broken, still slimy? Does that rise to the level of corruption, which has really made me mad? Is there a difference between pretty standard dirty tricks to get elected, (please, if someone doesn’t know the party, policy agendas, even the names of the candidates, please – stay home) vs. corruption once you are elected? Does one make the other easier? Is ‘dirty tricks’ a pathway drug to corruption (I’m inclined to say yes)?

As has been pointed out here today – there are no saints in this game. Should I hold out for one? Should I dump this guy for this? You raise very good points KCinDC – but you have to know that if I hold him to this standard, I expect the same from you.

I’ll give your points serious consideration. Can you help me delineate between ethical concerns and corruption? Seriously, I’ll take the advice. But it has to apply across the board. Can you give me a list of candidates you support that are in fact squeaky clean? Seriously – I will consider supporting them.

A younger me would be disappointed, but I've long since realized that this is how the sausage is made

Sigh. This is what we settle for. You and me both. D and R and in between. It is not so much “Who is corrupt” – it is “Who gets away with it the best”. Rather, who is least likely to get caught at an inopportune time?

What a sad state of affairs.

OCSteve: [re Steele and bused-in homeless people handing out lying flyers at the polls]
...
his involvement is not clear to me, it seemed to be more about Ehrlich, he had been using ”Steele Democrats” throughout, the pamphlet was from a third party committee, etc. While not clear any crime was committed I agreed it was sleazy. If it’s tied back to him I will reconsider...

What third party committee was that? Is there an organization named at the bottom of those sample ballots handed out election day as having paid for them?

The lying glossy flyers mailed to black voters on Monday before the election are certainly tied to Steele. The disclosure line says 'Paid and authorized by Steele for Maryland, Inc.', his campaign committee. (See flyer).

The flyers not only outright lie in representing that Kweisi Mfume and Prince Georges' County Exec Jack Johnson endorse Steele and Ehrlich, but use the men's images in doing so, above text saying "These are OUR choices." Followed by a list in which all other candidates are Democrats.

Classy.

OCSteve, I don't have the answers, and we all must live in the real world. I was just pointing out a possible inconsistency in your tolerance for sliminess. Also, I think there's a difference between being willing to vote for someone (perhaps holding your nose) and affirmatively wishing for him to come back and run for governor.

And I think the deception fits with with the way Steele ran his whole campaign. There's nothing wrong with running as an independent, but don't pretend to be an independent (or a Democrat) when you're running as a Republican.

OCSteve,

Webb is squeaky clean, even if it's only as a result of being brand new. ;>

He said early on that he wouldn't take business lobby PAC contributions, and he didn't do half the personal calling for money that most Senate or even many Congressional candidates do. He starts out as one of the least bought Senators I can imagine.

The FEC reports are out there if anyone wants to try to find a couple of counterexamples, but I'd put the Webb donor base up against any other Senator's sight unseen for representing citizens, not interests.

Just my two cents; I'm sure others here will be putting forward more candidates for your consideration.

Nell:
What third party committee was that? Is there an organization named at the bottom of those sample ballots handed out election day as having paid for them?

I thought there was, from the (philly) newspaper reports I saw at the time. Now I have seen a scan, but it was overlaid by ads. Now I have seen your link at DKos, that is clearer. I’ll admit, it makes the case for ethics questions. The question remains – do I throw him overboard for this? It is a question for me to answer – does this rise to the level of the corruption I have been upset with? Not really. Is this indicative of corruption to come? Unfortunately, I think that is quite possible.

So I am disappointed. At this point – that goes for the whole damned shooting match.


Webb is squeaky clean, even if it's only as a result of being brand new. ;>

I can’t actually vote for him, living in MD :) Get him on the national ticket – I could go there. The netroots are not going to like what they have here though :) You have to get him through the primary…

Man I'm feeling popular on this thread.

Ugh – you are popular on every thread :)

I'msurprised by Abramof's comment abouut six or seven corrupt Dem Senators. I thought thhe whole point of thhe K Street Project was that it was supposed to exclusively help Republicans. But I want the corrupt ones to go regardless of party.

I hope that the people behind the robocalls get prosecuted. That kind of corruption is maybe worse than the money stuff.

John Fund on John Murtha:

A few moments later in the tape, Mr. Murtha continues his discussion of how "a business commitment" in his district would be structured: "A business commitment that makes it imperative for me to help him. Just, let me tell you something. I'm sure if--and there's a lot of things I've done up here, with environmental regulations, with all kinds of waivers of laws and regulations. If it weren't for being in the district, people would say, 'Well that [expletive], I'm gonna tell you something this guy is, uh, you know, on the take.' Well once they say that, what happens? Then they start going around looking for the [expletive] money. So I want to avoid that by having some tie to the district. That's all. That's the secret to the whole thing."

It appears that what Mr. Murtha was referring to was a form of investment not for the sake of investment, but because "that's the secret" to how you can take a bribe and get away with it. Mr. Murtha was never indicted for his role in Abscam, even though he testified in federal court that he had called his "immigration guy" to determine what could be done to help the fake sheik with his immigration problems.

But in 1981, the House Ethics Committee became concerned that Mr. Murtha had, at a minimum, violated House rules that required he report any attempt at bribery, which he had not. A special prosecutor, Barrett Prettyman, was appointed to oversee the committee's investigation. He soon expanded his probe beyond the six House members who were directly involved and began moving against Rep. Murtha. He was also rumored to be offering deals in exchange for testimony that would take the scandal inside the office of Speaker O'Neill.

That was the final straw from the irascible O'Neill. He determined to shut the investigation down, and the story of how he did it makes up a fascinating part of Mr. Crile's book, "Charlie Wilson's War" (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003). Crile died earlier this year of cancer, but his story of how the larger-than-life Rep. Charlie Wilson of Texas single-handedly steered money from the defense subcommittee that Rep. Murtha chaired to the anti-Soviet mujahadeen in Afghanistan is so riveting that it is being made into a major motion picture produced by Mike Nichols and starring Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.

And of course, there's lots, lots more.

Ugh: Man I'm feeling popular on this thread.

Blecch.

OCSteve: It is not so much “Who is corrupt” – it is “Who gets away with it the best”. Rather, who is least likely to get caught at an inopportune time?

There's an old maxim [paraphrased, and badly, by yours truly] from the service industry that I remember with distaste: "Everyone steals; the point is to keep your theft within reasonable limits." IOW, as long as you only scam a little bit -- an order of breadsticks here, a free drink there, etc. -- the owners are (usually) willing to look the other way. This, to me, seems to be the appropriate standard for Congress: as long as they keep their ethical flimflammery within reasonable limits -- an extra mile of highway here, a new hospital there -- we should probably give them a pass. It's only when their corruption reaches "unreasonable" levels that we should kick them to the curb.

I should add, incidentally, that part of the reason that I hated that maxim was that I didn't steal. Ever. In fact, I was always known as the most ethically rigid at any bar where I worked, a fact that often got me into trouble with the management since they either a) couldn't believe I was that honest, or b) kept changing their damn minds about what the rules were or how much discretion I was allowed to have without actually bothering to notify me first. Good times.

Despite Pelosi pushing Murtha (boo), he lost (hooray).

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