Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2009

Washington, DC

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:

  1. Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT): This marks two years in a row for Senator Dodd, who made the 2008 "Ten Most Corrupt" list for his corrupt relationship with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and for accepting preferential treatment and loan terms from Countrywide Financial, a scandal which still dogs him. In 2009, the scandals kept coming for the Connecticut Democrat. In 2009, Judicial Watch filed a Senate ethics complaint against Dodd for undervaluing a property he owns in Ireland on his Senate Financial Disclosure forms. Judicial Watch's complaint forced Dodd to amend the forms. However, press reports suggest the property to this day remains undervalued. Judicial Watch also alleges in the complaint that Dodd obtained a sweetheart deal for the property in exchange for his assistance in obtaining a presidential pardon (during the Clinton administration) and other favors for a long-time friend and business associate. The false financial disclosure forms were part of the cover-up. Dodd remains the head the Senate Banking Committee.
  2. Senator John Ensign (R-NV): A number of scandals popped up in 2009 involving public officials who conducted illicit affairs, and then attempted to cover them up with hush payments and favors, an obvious abuse of power. The year's worst offender might just be Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign. Ensign admitted in June to an extramarital affair with the wife of one of his staff members, who then allegedly obtained special favors from the Nevada Republican in exchange for his silence. According to The New York Times: "The Justice Department and the Senate Ethics Committee are expected to conduct preliminary inquiries into whether Senator John Ensign violated federal law or ethics rules as part of an effort to conceal an affair with the wife of an aide…" The former staffer, Douglas Hampton, began to lobby Mr. Ensign's office immediately upon leaving his congressional job, despite the fact that he was subject to a one-year lobbying ban. Ensign seems to have ignored the law and allowed Hampton lobbying access to his office as a payment for his silence about the affair. (These are potentially criminal offenses.) It looks as if Ensign misused his public office (and taxpayer resources) to cover up his sexual shenanigans.
  3. Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): Judicial Watch is investigating a $12 million TARP cash injection provided to the Boston-based OneUnited Bank at the urging of Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank. As reported in the January 22, 2009, edition of the Wall Street Journal, the Treasury Department indicated it would only provide funds to healthy banks to jump-start lending. Not only was OneUnited Bank in massive financial turmoil, but it was also "under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses, including owning a Porsche for its executives' use." Rep. Frank admitted he spoke to a "federal regulator," and Treasury granted the funds. (The bank continues to flounder despite Frank's intervention for federal dollars.) Moreover, Judicial Watch uncovered documents in 2009 that showed that members of Congress for years were aware that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were playing fast and loose with accounting issues, risk assessment issues and executive compensation issues, even as liberals led by Rep. Frank continued to block attempts to rein in the two Government Sponsored Enterprises (GSEs). For example, during a hearing on September 10, 2003, before the House Committee on Financial Services considering a Bush administration proposal to further regulate Fannie and Freddie, Rep. Frank stated: "I want to begin by saying that I am glad to consider the legislation, but I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis. That is, in my view, the two Government Sponsored Enterprises we are talking about here, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not in a crisis. We have recently had an accounting problem with Freddie Mac that has led to people being dismissed, as appears to be appropriate. I do not think at this point there is a problem with a threat to the Treasury." Frank received $42,350 in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 1989 and 2008. Frank also engaged in a relationship with a Fannie Mae Executive while serving on the House Banking Committee, which has jurisdiction over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
  4. Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner: In 2009, Obama Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admitted that he failed to pay $34,000 in Social Security and Medicare taxes from 2001-2004 on his lucrative salary at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), an organization with 185 member countries that oversees the global financial system. (Did we mention Geithner now runs the IRS?) It wasn't until President Obama tapped Geithner to head the Treasury Department that he paid back most of the money, although the IRS kindly waived the hefty penalties. In March 2009, Geithner also came under fire for his handling of the AIG bonus scandal, where the company used $165 million of its bailout funds to pay out executive bonuses, resulting in a massive public backlash. Of course as head of the New York Federal Reserve, Geithner helped craft the AIG deal in September 2008. However, when the AIG scandal broke, Geithner claimed he knew nothing of the bonuses until March 10, 2009. The timing is important. According to CNN: "Although Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told congressional leaders on Tuesday that he learned of AIG's impending $160 million bonus payments to members of its troubled financial-products unit on March 10, sources tell TIME that the New York Federal Reserve informed Treasury staff that the payments were imminent on Feb. 28. That is ten days before Treasury staffers say they first learned 'full details' of the bonus plan, and three days before the [Obama] Administration launched a new $30 billion infusion of cash for AIG." Throw in another embarrassing disclosure in 2009 that Geithner employed "household help" ineligible to work in the United States, and it becomes clear why the Treasury Secretary has earned a spot on the "Ten Most Corrupt Politicians in Washington" list.
  5. Attorney General Eric Holder: Tim Geithner can be sure he won't be hounded about his tax-dodging by his colleague Eric Holder, US Attorney General. Judicial Watch strongly opposed Holder because of his terrible ethics record, which includes: obstructing an FBI investigation of the theft of nuclear secrets from Los Alamos Nuclear Laboratory; rejecting multiple requests for an independent counsel to investigate alleged fundraising abuses by then-Vice President Al Gore in the Clinton White House; undermining the criminal investigation of President Clinton by Kenneth Starr in the midst of the Lewinsky investigation; and planning the violent raid to seize then-six-year-old Elian Gonzalez at gunpoint in order to return him to Castro's Cuba. Moreover, there is his soft record on terrorism. Holder bypassed Justice Department procedures to push through Bill Clinton's scandalous presidential pardons and commutations, including for 16 members of FALN, a violent Puerto Rican terrorist group that orchestrated approximately 120 bombings in the United States, killing at least six people and permanently maiming dozens of others, including law enforcement officers. His record in the current administration is no better. As he did during the Clinton administration, Holder continues to ignore serious incidents of corruption that could impact his political bosses at the White House. For example, Holder has refused to investigate charges that the Obama political machine traded VIP access to the White House in exchange for campaign contributions – a scheme eerily similar to one hatched by Holder's former boss, Bill Clinton in the 1990s. The Holder Justice Department also came under fire for dropping a voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party. On Election Day 2008, Black Panthers dressed in paramilitary garb threatened voters as they approached polling stations. Holder has also failed to initiate a comprehensive Justice investigation of the notorious organization ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which is closely tied to President Obama. There were allegedly more than 400,000 fraudulent ACORN voter registrations in the 2008 campaign. And then there were the journalist videos catching ACORN Housing workers advising undercover reporters on how to evade tax, immigration, and child prostitution laws. Holder's controversial decisions on new rights for terrorists and his attacks on previous efforts to combat terrorism remind many of the fact that his former law firm has provided and continues to provide pro bono representation to terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Holder's politicization of the Justice Department makes one long for the days of Alberto Gonzales.
  6. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL)/ Senator Roland Burris (D-IL): One of the most serious scandals of 2009 involved a scheme by former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to sell President Obama's then-vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. Two men caught smack dab in the middle of the scandal: Senator Roland Burris, who ultimately got the job, and Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, emissaries for Jesse Jackson Jr., named "Senate Candidate A" in the Blagojevich indictment, reportedly offered $1.5 million to Blagojevich during a fundraiser if he named Jackson Jr. to Obama's seat. Three days later federal authorities arrested Blagojevich. Burris, for his part, apparently lied about his contacts with Blagojevich, who was arrested in December 2008 for trying to sell Obama's Senate seat. According to Reuters: "Roland Burris came under fresh scrutiny…after disclosing he tried to raise money for the disgraced former Illinois governor who named him to the U.S. Senate seat once held by President Barack Obama…In the latest of those admissions, Burris said he looked into mounting a fundraiser for Rod Blagojevich -- later charged with trying to sell Obama's Senate seat -- at the same time he was expressing interest to the then-governor's aides about his desire to be appointed." Burris changed his story five times regarding his contacts with Blagojevich prior to the Illinois governor appointing him to the U.S. Senate. Three of those changing explanations came under oath.
  7. President Barack Obama: During his presidential campaign, President Obama promised to run an ethical and transparent administration. However, in his first year in office, the President has delivered corruption and secrecy, bringing Chicago-style political corruption to the White House. Consider just a few Obama administration "lowlights" from year one: Even before President Obama was sworn into office, he was interviewed by the FBI for a criminal investigation of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's scheme to sell the President's former Senate seat to the highest bidder. (Obama's Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and slumlord Valerie Jarrett, both from Chicago, are also tangled up in the Blagojevich scandal.) Moreover, the Obama administration made the startling claim that the Privacy Act does not apply to the White House. The Obama White House believes it can violate the privacy rights of American citizens without any legal consequences or accountability. President Obama boldly proclaimed that "transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency," but his administration is addicted to secrecy, stonewalling far too many of Judicial Watch's Freedom of Information Act requests and is refusing to make public White House visitor logs as federal law requires. The Obama administration turned the National Endowment of the Arts (as well as the agency that runs the AmeriCorps program) into propaganda machines, using tax dollars to persuade "artists" to promote the Obama agenda. According to documents uncovered by Judicial Watch, the idea emerged as a direct result of the Obama campaign and enjoyed White House approval and participation. President Obama has installed a record number of "czars" in positions of power. Too many of these individuals are leftist radicals who answer to no one but the president. And too many of the czars are not subject to Senate confirmation (which raises serious constitutional questions). Under the President's bailout schemes, the federal government continues to appropriate or control — through fiat and threats — large sectors of the private economy, prompting conservative columnist George Will to write: "The administration's central activity — the political allocation of wealth and opportunity — is not merely susceptible to corruption, it is corruption." Government-run healthcare and car companies, White House coercion, uninvestigated ACORN corruption, debasing his office to help Chicago cronies, attacks on conservative media and the private sector, unprecedented and dangerous new rights for terrorists, perks for campaign donors — this is Obama's "ethics" record — and we haven't even gotten through the first year of his presidency.
  8. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): At the heart of the corruption problem in Washington is a sense of entitlement. Politicians believe laws and rules (even the U.S. Constitution) apply to the rest of us but not to them. Case in point: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and her excessive and boorish demands for military travel. Judicial Watch obtained documents from the Pentagon in 2009 that suggest Pelosi has been treating the Air Force like her own personal airline. These documents, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, include internal Pentagon email correspondence detailing attempts by Pentagon staff to accommodate Pelosi's numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker's 11th hour cancellations and changes. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also came under fire in April 2009, when she claimed she was never briefed about the CIA's use of the waterboarding technique during terrorism investigations. The CIA produced a report documenting a briefing with Pelosi on September 4, 2002, that suggests otherwise. Judicial Watch also obtained documents, including a CIA Inspector General report, which further confirmed that Congress was fully briefed on the enhanced interrogation techniques. Aside from her own personal transgressions, Nancy Pelosi has ignored serious incidents of corruption within her own party, including many of the individuals on this list. (See Rangel, Murtha, Jesse Jackson, Jr., etc.)
  9. Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) and the rest of the PMA Seven: Rep. John Murtha made headlines in 2009 for all the wrong reasons. The Pennsylvania congressman is under federal investigation for his corrupt relationship with the now-defunct defense lobbyist PMA Group. PMA, founded by a former Murtha associate, has been the congressman's largest campaign contributor. Since 2002, Murtha has raised $1.7 million from PMA and its clients. And what did PMA and its clients receive from Murtha in return for their generosity? Earmarks -- tens of millions of dollars in earmarks. In fact, even with all of the attention surrounding his alleged influence peddling, Murtha kept at it. Following an FBI raid of PMA's offices earlier in 2009, Murtha continued to seek congressional earmarks for PMA clients, while also hitting them up for campaign contributions. According to The Hill, in April, "Murtha reported receiving contributions from three former PMA clients for whom he requested earmarks in the pending appropriations bills." When it comes to the PMA scandal, Murtha is not alone. As many as six other Members of Congress are currently under scrutiny according to The Washington Post. They include: Peter J. Visclosky (D-IN.), James P. Moran Jr. (D-VA), Norm Dicks (D-WA.), Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL.) and Todd Tiahrt (R-KS.). Of course rather than investigate this serious scandal, according to Roll Call House Democrats circled the wagons, "cobbling together a defense to offer political cover to their rank and file." The Washington Post also reported in 2009 that Murtha's nephew received $4 million in Defense Department no-bid contracts: "Newly obtained documents…show Robert Murtha mentioning his influential family connection as leverage in his business dealings and holding unusual power with the military."
  10. Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): Rangel, the man in charge of writing tax policy for the entire country, has yet to adequately explain how he could possibly "forget" to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income he earned from his off-shore rental property. He also faces allegations that he improperly used his influence to maintain ownership of highly coveted rent-controlled apartments in Harlem, and misused his congressional office to fundraise for his private Rangel Center by preserving a tax loophole for an oil drilling company in exchange for funding. On top of all that, Rangel recently amended his financial disclosure reports, which doubled his reported wealth. (He somehow "forgot" about $1 million in assets.) And what did he do when the House Ethics Committee started looking into all of this? He apparently resorted to making "campaign contributions" to dig his way out of trouble. According to WCBS TV, a New York CBS affiliate: "The reigning member of Congress' top tax committee is apparently 'wrangling' other politicos to get him out of his own financial and tax troubles...Since ethics probes began last year the 79-year-old congressman has given campaign donations to 119 members of Congress, including three of the five Democrats on the House Ethics Committee who are charged with investigating him." Charlie Rangel should not be allowed to remain in Congress, let alone serve as Chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, and he knows it. That's why he felt the need to disburse campaign contributions to Ethics Committee members and other congressional colleagues.

 

Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington's "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2008

Washington, DC -- December 31, 2008

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2008 list of Washington’s "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.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS

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.

 

Judicial Watch Announces List of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” for 2007

(Washington, DC) – Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, today released its 2007 list of Washington’s “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 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.

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

http://www.judicialwatch.org/judicial-watch-announces-list-washington-s-ten-most-wanted-corrupt-politicians-2007

0homefly.gif (8947 bytes)