Congressman Charles Boustany joined a lot of other desperate members of Congress last week in giving away to charity dollars that came from the tainted accounts of Jack Abramoff, his clients and political action committees of indicted or otherwise tainted Republican Congressmen Tom DeLay, Randy 'Duke' Cunningham and Bob Ney.
Like his other colleagues with deep ties to the corrupt Republican money machine, Boustany made a big show of saying that the money was contributed legally, but that he was giving it away in order to close the book on attempts to link him to the corruption scandals that are engulfing his party' and the leadership to which he has been such a reliable vote.
If Boustany is being honest about his desire to separate himself from his party's ethical scandals, he's got more giving to do!
For starters, there is the matter of the $1,000 contribution to Boustany's campaign in October of 2004 from the wife of one of the men implicated in the bribery of admitted bribe recipient and now resigned member of Congress Duke Cunningham. That would be Georgia Kontogiannis, wife of Long Island, New York, developer Thomas T. Kontogiannis. Reporter and blogger Laura Rozen has covered the Cunningham scandal in great detail, raising the possibility that U.S. national security might well have been compromised by the scandal. Rozen has this information about Kontogiannis's role in the scandal and the contributions of Mrs. Kontogiannis to 19 Republican congressional candidates, including our man Chuck.
Certainly this money raises questions of propriety. In order to eliminate those questions, Boustany should give this money to charity.
Boustany also received significant contributions from Roy Blunt, the Republican House Whip who is now seeking to become the elected replacement of DeLay as House Majority Leader. In 2004, Blunt's Rely on Your Beliefs PAC (ROYPAC) gave Boustany's campaign $15,000. In the current election cycle, ROYPAC has given Boustany's campaign $9,672. Blunt has his own ethical problems, including deep ties to DeLay and Abramoff and, as it turns out, ties to the bribers of Duke Cunningham, too.
If Boustany is serious about cutting all ties to Republican corruption, then the $24,672 his campaign got from ROYPAC needs to go to charity, too.
Then, there's the money Boustany got from California Republican Congressman Jerry Lewis's Lewis for Congress PAC. Lewis has been linked to a lobbying group headed by a former congressman who has made very generous contributions to Lewis' PAC over the years and, coincidentally, his clients have been beneficiaries of Lewis' position on the House Appropriations Committee. Boustany got $3,000 from Lewis in the 2004 cycle.
Again, if Boustany's serious about cutting his ties to corrupt Republican leaders, the money from Lewis will be charity-bound, too.
The fact is that these dollars from Republican congressional leaders who are deeply implicated in the scandals now rumbling through Washington bought Boustany's allegiance on votes – as the money from DeLay certainly did on Boustany's vote on changing the House Rules governing the operations of the Ethics Committee that had the effect of protecting DeLay from further ethics charges.
As the dimensions of the culture of corruption that has developed during the decade of Republican leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives becomes known, Boustany's claims that the money did not influence him become more difficult to believe.
So far, Boustany is using the Jessica Rabbit defense: he's not corrupt, he's just drawn that way. The movie was funny; Boustany's deep ties to the corrupt leadership of his party are not.