13 challenged over ethics
A watchdog group, naming what it calls "the 13 most corrupt members of Congress," is calling for ethics investigations of some of the most...
Los Angeles Times
WASHINGTON — A watchdog group, naming what it calls "the 13 most corrupt members of Congress," is calling for ethics investigations of some of the most prominent political leaders on Capitol Hill in a report to be released tomorrow.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) claims in its report that the 13 members violated a variety of congressional ethics rules, among them Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt.
The bipartisan list includes three Californians — House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, a conservative Republican; Rep. Maxine Waters, a staunch liberal Democrat; and Republican Rep. Duke Cunningham.
Cunningham is one of two House members whose residences have been searched as part of separate federal criminal investigations. The other, Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., also is named on CREW's list.
Three of the people on the list — Sen. Conrad Burns, R-Mont.; Rep. Robert Ney, R-Ohio; and Rep. Tom Feeney, R-Fla., are cited for their dealings with one time super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff who is the subject of congressional and federal grand-jury investigations.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW, criticized both parties for failing to police ethics.
Representatives for some of the 13 congress members dismissed the report as "pure politics."
The report is called "Beyond DeLay: The 13 Most Corrupt Members of Congress" and is based, CREW said, on news articles and other documents. The group has been outspoken in criticizing House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, for what Sloan calls his ethical lapses.
The 13 congressional figures recommended for investigation by the watchdog group are:
• Sen. Frist, R-Tenn.: The report accused him of violating federal campaign-finance laws in how he disclosed a campaign loan. It also called for an inquiry over his recent sale of stock in HCA, his family's hospital corporation. The sale has raised questions about possible insider dealing. Frist aides confirmed Friday that the SEC is investigating.
• Rep. Blunt, R-Mo.: He was criticized for trying to insert provisions into bills that in one case would have benefited a client of his lobbyist son and, in the other case, the employer of his lobbyist girlfriend, now his wife.
• Sen. Burns: Questions arose over $3 million in appropriations he earmarked for a Michigan tribal client of lobbyist Abramoff. The senator received substantial campaign contributions from Abramoff and various clients.
• Rep. Ney: The chairman of the House Administration Committee went on a golf outing to Scotland in 2002 arranged by Abramoff at a time when the congressman was trying to insert a provision into legislation to benefit one of Abramoff's tribal clients. The tribe arranged for funds to pay a portion of the trip.
But Ney reported to the House that the trip was paid entirely by the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank that denied paying any of the costs.
• Rep. Feeney: He incorrectly reported that a golf outing to Scotland with Abramoff in 2003 was paid for by the National Center for Public Policy Research, which denied it. A Feeney aide said the Congressmen was misled
• Rep. Pombo: He paid his wife and brother $357,325 in campaign funds in the last four years. He also supported the wind-power industry before the Department of Interior without disclosing that his parents received hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties from wind-power turbines on their ranch.
• Rep. Waters: The report cites a December 2004 Los Angeles Times investigation disclosing how members of the congresswoman's family have made more than $1 million in the past eight years by doing business with companies, candidates and causes that Waters has helped.
• Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa.: The senator encountered controversy over disclosures that local Pennsylvania taxpayers paid for his children's schooling while they lived in Virginia. Santorum maintained he did nothing wrong, and he has since pulled his children out of the school, according to news reports.
• Reps. Cunningham and Jefferson: Both are under federal investigation. Cunningham, who has announced he will not run for re-election, faces questions over his dealings with a defense contractor who allegedly overpaid him when he purchased Cunningham's house. Jefferson is under scrutiny for his role in an overseas business deal.
• Rep. Charles Taylor, R-N.C.: Questions have been raised about his private business interests, including a savings and loan in Asheville and business interests in Russia.
• Rep. Marilyn Musgrave, R-Colo., and Rep. Rick Renzi, R-Ariz.: Musgrave was accused of misusing her congressional office for campaign purposes. Renzi was accused of financing portions of his 2002 campaign with improper loans.
When vice president of Sub Pop Records Megan Jasper isn't running things at the office, she's working in her garden at her West Seattle home where she and her husband Brian spend time relaxing.
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