Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Republican Congressman Pleads Guilty to Accepting $2.4 Million in Bribes

A conservative Republican Congressman from California plead guilty on Monday to accepting $2.4 million in bribes to help friends win military contracts.

Congressman Randy "Duke" Cunningham admitted he was guilty of one count of tax evasion and one count of conspiracy to commit bribery, tax evasion, wire fraud and mail fraud.

Cunningham was no back-bencher. Here's how he is described in Tuesday's New York Times:
Mr. Cunningham, who is known for his combative conservatism and his emotional outbursts, served on the defense subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee and as chairman of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence.
Using the Appropriations and Intelligence committees as gateways to riches?

Here's what the prosecutor said about Cunningham:
"He did the worst thing an elected official can do," Carol C. Lam, the United States attorney, said in a statement. "He enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there."
Cunningham's plea adds to the pantheon of Republican perp walks that has become the near-signature of the party that a mere five years ago boasted of its moral rectitude.

The New York Times provides a handy run-down of Republican criminal and ethical lapses currently under investigative scrutiny:
In the Senate, Bill Frist, Republican of Tennessee and the majority leader, is under scrutiny by the Securities and Exchange Commission for the timing of his trades in the stock of his family's health care company. In the House, Representative Tom DeLay, Republican of Texas, was forced to step down as majority leader after he was indicted on conspiracy and money laundering charges in his home state.

In a separate Justice Department investigation, Michael Scanlon, a former spokesman for Mr. DeLay, pleaded guilty last week to bribery. Prosecutors said Mr. Scanlon was part of a conspiracy to defraud Indian tribes and win legislative favors from lawmakers in return for campaign donations, meals, entertainment and other benefits. A former White House aide has also been indicted in that investigation, which is centered around Jack Abramoff, a lobbyist and ally of Mr. DeLay who worked with Mr. Scanlon. As part of his plea, Mr. Scanlon agreed to cooperate in the investigation.

In addition, I. Lewis Libby Jr., the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was indicted last month for perjury and false statements in the investigation of the leaking of the name of a C.I.A. operative. Other White House officials, including the senior political adviser Karl Rove, remain under investigation in that case.
Cunningham's plea is the latest evidence that Republicans in the Bush/Cheney/DeLay era have cultivated a culture of corruption in Washington.

Thanks to the fact that under Republican control, Congress has completely abandoned its oversight and investigative functions, the biggest scandal of all is not mentioned on this list. That scandal? The manipulation of intelligence by the Bush administration to take this country into an unprovoked war.

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