Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2009 list of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians." The list, in alphabetical order, includes:
Washington, DC -- December 31, 2008
Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2008 list of Washingtons "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians." The list, in alphabetical order, includes:
Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY): Let's start with the fact that Hillary Clinton is constitutionally ineligible to serve as Secretary of State in the Obama administration. According to the Ineligibility Clause of the United States Constitution, no member of Congress can be appointed to an office that has benefited from a salary increase during the time that Senator or Representative served in Congress. A January 2008 Executive Order signed by President Bush during Hillary Clinton's current Senate term increased the salary for Secretary of State, thereby rendering Senator Clinton ineligible for the position. (Congressional "fixes" do not address the constitutional issue. Her appointment would be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.) And then, of course, there is the long history of corrupt behavior that follows Hillary wherever she goes, including Chinagate, Filegate, pardons for terrorists, pardons for cash (for her brothers), White House fundraising coffees, Whitewater, Travelgate lies, doing business with the State of Arkansas while her husband was governor, Web Hubbell, smear campaigns, false financial disclosure forms, John Huang, Chinese generals, the Lippo Group, paid sleepovers in the Lincoln Bedroom, cattle futures fraud, and stealing White House furniture. (This corruption is still going strong. In 2008, Hillary also received an illegal foreign campaign contribution in the form of a fundraising concert by music icon Elton John.)
Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT): Question: Which member of the U.S. Senate took the most campaign money from corrupt institutions Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac? Answer: Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Given this fact there is little reason to wonder why Senator Dodd blocked reform proposals for Fannie and Freddie, calling them "ill advised." Dodd's willingness to protect Fannie and Freddie would alone merit a spot on the "ten most corrupt list," but there is much more. Dodd was also nabbed for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial. The Connecticut Senator admitted earlier this year that he was told in 2003 when he refinanced two properties that he was being placed in Countrywide's "VIP Program," but said he believed this was simply a courtesy that had nothing to do with his position in the U.S. Senate. This is either a blatant lie or horribly na´ve for a man who has served in the Senate for more than 25 years and currently chairs the Senate Banking Committee that regulates the mortgage industry. We're not buying it.
Obama Advisor Valerie Jarrett (D-IL): CBS News once called Chicago politician Valerie Jarrett "the other side of Barack Obama's brain." Residents of a housing project in Chicago simply know her as "slumlord." Jarrett is the former manager of Grove Parc Plaza, a controversial low-income housing project located in Obama's former state senate district. According to the Boston Globe, the housing complex was considered "uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage... In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale - a score so bad the buildings now face demolition." According to documents uncovered by Judicial Watch, Jarrett is also linked to a series of other shady real estate scandals involving convicted felon and former Obama fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko. Jarrett has also been caught up in the Blagojevich scandal as Obama's Candidate #1 for his senate seat. Most of Blagojevich's corrupt negotiations with the Obama team centered on the possible Jarrett appointment. She remains mum on the scandal.
Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA): Rep. Lewis may share a name with a world-renowned comedian, but there's nothing funny about his addiction to influence peddling and earmarking. Lewis, the senior Republican on the House Appropriations Committee, is under investigation for approving hundreds of millions of dollars in federal projects to benefit clients of one of his best friends, lobbyist and former Congressman Bill Lowery. According to press reports, Lowery, partners in his company and their clients donated approximately 37% of the funds collected by Lewis' campaign PAC over a six-year period (an estimated $480,000) in return. Lowery has benefited handsomely from his relationship to Lewis. His company more than tripled its income between 1998 and 2004 with help from Lewis, while increasing its client base from 21 clients to 101 over that same time period. Despite these allegations, Lewis maintains his high-ranking position on the House Appropriations Committee.
President-Elect Barack Obama (D-IL): As Barack Obama assumes the presidency he already brings to the White House a large amount of ethical baggage. Obama's presidential campaign had some of the ethical trimmings of a Chicago ward election. It was marked with enormous corruption issues, ranging from its alliance with the sleazy ACORN operation's "voter registration" and "get out the vote" efforts to its acceptance of untraceable, and in too many cases, illegal online contributions. There are also Obama's corrupt dealings with convicted felon Tony Rezko and unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, his below-market rate mortgage loans, his stock dealings and related "earmark" votes in the U.S. Senate, and his missing or non-existent official papers from his years in the Illinois State Senate. His ongoing cover up of his and his team's role in the Blagojevich "pay-to-play" scandal is ruining his presidency even before he takes the oath of office.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): Last year House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made the "most corrupt" list for sneaking a $25 million earmark for her husband into a $15 billion Water Resources Development Act passed by Congress. This year, Pelosi ran afoul of federal election law by participating in an illegal advertising campaign funded by Al Gore's non-profit Alliance for Climate protection. The advertisement featuring Pelosi ran at least 300 times nationally, including in the House speaker's district, during campaign season, representing an illegal in-kind contribution to her campaign. Perhaps more disturbing than this incident, however, is the fact that Speaker Pelosi has allowed corruption to run rampant in Congress and has ignored serious incidents of crooked behavior within her own party. Pelosi promised a new era of ethics enforcement during the 2006 campaign and she has failed to deliver. Instead, she continues to protect the worst of the worst of political corruption in the House of Representatives.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): Rep. Charles Rangel, Chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee, took the unusual step of filing an ethics complaint against himself in 2008 related to scandals involving unpaid taxes and rent-controlled apartments. This act was clearly a publicity stunt, but regardless, the House Ethics Committee took the New York congressman up on his request, and even took things a step further by expanding the scope of its investigation. The initial transgressions that led to the ethics panel probe involve: Rangel's failure to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income he earned from his off-shore rental property; his efforts to use his influence to keep hold of highly coveted rent-controlled apartments in Harlem; and misusing his congressional office to fundraise for his private Rangel Center. Now Congress is looking into whether or not Rangel preserved a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for funding for the Rangel Center as well.
Former Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ): Three-term Republican congressman Rick Renzi was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2008 for conspiracy, extortion, money laundering and wire fraud. He allegedly used his influence on a House Natural Resources Committee to orchestrate a land swap with the federal government that financially benefited himself and his associates. The 49-year-old lawmaker, who owns an insurance business, is also charged with embezzling more than $400,000 from insurance clients to fund his congressional campaign. A 26-page federal indictment lays out how the legislator and his business associates conspired to obtain federal government land by swapping land they owned together because the coveted public land sits above underground copper deposits. The indictment says that the congressman concealed nearly $1 million that he made for using his influence to seal the land deals. No wonder Renzi decided to retire this year.
Former Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK): "Uncle Ted" Stevens, the face of Alaska politics for 40 years and formerly the longest serving Republican in the U.S. Senate, was narrowly defeated in his campaign for re-election in November. But that's the least of his problems. Just days before the November election, Stevens was convicted on seven felony counts for accepting illegal gifts and then lying about it. The establishment of both political parties came to Stevens' defense, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and Democratic Senator Daniel Inouye, but to no avail. The jury found Stevens guilty on all counts. And now Stevens faces the possibility of a 35-year prison sentence.
Rep. Don Young (R-AK): Carrying on Alaska's legacy of corruption, Rep. Don Young is also the subject of an influence peddling investigation. (You may recall it was Young who attempted to push through the $200 million "Bridge to Nowhere" boondoggle.) Well the Justice Department is also investigating the 18-term congressman for his corrupt ties to an oil services company, VECO, ironically the same company that furnished illegal gifts to Senator Ted Stevens. VECO allegedly used golf tournaments and pig roasts to illegally funnel cash to Young, which the 18-term congressman then failed to report on his financial disclosure forms. VECO Vice President Rick Smith has already pleaded guilty to bribing lawmakers to support oil-friendly legislation. The Alaska Republican also added a $10 million earmark for the construction of short stretch of road in Florida that benefited a wealthy campaign contributor. Real estate developer, Daniel Aronoff, had raised $40,000 for Young shortly before the earmark was inserted.
Former Senator John Edwards (D-NC): By day, former North Carolina Senator and Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards repeatedly professed his love for his cancer-stricken wife during media interviews and campaign speeches. By night, Edwards was carrying on an illicit sexual affair with a former campaign consultant, Rielle Hunter. Of course, Edwards denied the affair (calling it "tabloid trash") even after he was trapped in the basement of the Beverly Hilton hotel by reporters from the National Enquirer during one of his late-night liaisons with Ms. Hunter. While Edwards did finally admit to violating his marriage vows, questions remain as to whether or not he broke any laws. Edwards' former National Finance Chairman (who just passed away) paid large sums of money to Ms. Hunter, as much as $15,000 per month, in addition to covering Hunter's moving expenses. Were these "hush funds" paid out of Edwards' campaign coffers?
Former Rep. William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson (D-LA): William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson was nabbed in a sting operation accepting a $100,000 bribe from an FBI informant to broker business deals in Africa. During his conversation with the informant, who was wired, Jefferson famously remarked, "All these notes we're writing to each other, as if the FBI is watching." Well, the FBI was watching (and listening) and during a subsequent search of Jefferson's home, investigators found $90,000 in cash stuffed in the congressman's freezer. (The marked bills were later recovered by federal authorities.) Jefferson allegedly intended to use the money to bribe a Nigerian official over a business deal that would have enriched himself and his family. Jefferson was widely expected to return to Congress despite these serious allegations. However, in a December 2008 special election surprise, voters decided instead to send "Dollar Bill" into retirement.
(Washington, DC) Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2007 list of Washingtons Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians. The list, in alphabetical order, includes:
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 Hillarys 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 mens 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 didnt 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 Watchs 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 mayors 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 Giulianis 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: [Huckabees] 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 governors office. And what was Governor Huckabees 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 companys 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 Pelosis 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 Reids 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 fathers office to talk about how to obtain the proper EPA permits, a clear conflict of interest.
Judicial Watch is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Judicial Watch neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office. For more information, visit www.judicialwatch.org.
December 19, 2007