Sunday, June 19, 2011

From Weekly Standard: The Democrats’ ‘Culture of Corruption’ | The Weekly Standard

FANTASTIC article by Mark Hemingway!! 
"Anthony Weiner undoubtedly felt pressured these last few weeks to resign his House seat over his dishonesty and online sexual indiscretions. The leaders of his party, everyone from President Obama to House minority leader Nancy Pelosi on down, were publicly in agreement that he should go.

But from Weiner’s vantage point, the question must be asked in all sincerity: Why should he be the one to resign?
The recent history of congressional scandals suggests Weiner had little reason to bow to party leaders, and every reason to stick it out. The Democratic leadership has shown an amazing capacity to tolerate and even encourage corruption that far exceeds Weiner’s misdeeds.
Remember Rep. Charles Rangel? A quick recap of his rap sheet: The onetime chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, which writes the nation’s tax laws, was guilty of massive tax evasion. The Sunlight Foundation catalogued “28 instances in which Rangel omitted assets worth between $239,026 and $831,000 that were either purchased, sold, or held from his financial disclosures.”
He further solicited millions for the Charles B. Rangel Center for Public Service at City College directly from his congressional office—even from a number of interests that had business before his powerful committee. There’s also his illegal use of rent-controlled apartments and the House parking garage, as well as other infractions too numerous to name. Rangel has been reelected and is still in office after being censured by the House Ethics Committee.
And what about Rep. Maxine Waters? The House Ethics Committee charged the California Democrat with three violations for helping secure a $12 million TARP bailout for OneUnited Bank, even though her husband was a former board member and had a substantial financial interest in the bank. The president of OneUnited was also revealed to be a cocaine abuser, and the foundering bank was paying for his $6.4 million Malibu home and Porsche even as Waters was securing his bank a taxpayer bailout.
After the scandal broke, Waters was unrepentant. She sent members of her staff to protest at an event featuring Nancy Pelosi, where they held up signs that read “Let’s fight for Maxine Waters.” Questioned about the tactic, Waters blamed her persecution on racism. “It’s about black people .  .  . These signs will show up wherever large numbers of African Americans gather,” she said.
Waters’s ethics trial was supposed to begin last fall, but it was postponed after new evidence emerged that she had been dishonest with congressional investigators. She has yet to have an ethics trial, and the Democratic leadership has been largely mum on the matter.
In January, Paul Magliocchetti was sentenced to 27 months in prison for campaign finance violations. Magli-occhetti was the head of the PMA lobbying firm, best known for funneling $2.3 million to the late John Murtha, the Democrat from Pennsylvania who secured millions in earmark spending that benefited PMA clients. The PMA scandal had been dragging on for years, and Murtha’s legendary corruption dated all the way back to his role in the Abscam scandal in 1980, when the FBI videotaped him saying he was open to taking a $50,000 bribe. Despite this, Murtha died in office last year as the House’s top defense appropriator.
Then there’s Rep. Gregory Meeks, another New York Democrat, who was under investigation by a grand jury and the FBI last year for a secret $40,000 personal loan from a wealthy businessman in his district. Meeks was also investigated for promoting a charity for Hurricane Katrina victims that can’t account for almost $30,000 of the $31,000 it raised.
Following reports he was stashing his yacht in a tax haven, Democratic senator John Kerry of Massachusetts paid up only after the matter became public last year, even though his wife has a net worth surpassing that of a good many island nations. West Virginia Democratic senator Joe Manchin was under federal investigation for corruption last fall. After raising millions for the Clinton and Obama campaigns, Democratic fundraiser Hassan Nemazee was sentenced last July to 12 years for bank and wire fraud. And multiple lawmakers were caught last year directing Congressional Black Caucus scholarship funds to friends and relatives.
Obama may have said that Weiner should resign, but when it comes to ethics, the White House is a glass house. It may well have violated a number of laws in the last election by dangling jobs before Rep. Joe Sestak and Andrew Romanoff in order to entice them out of their Democratic primary races in Pennsylvania and Colorado respectively.
Last year, Democrats tried to replace Illinois senator Roland Burris, accused of buying his seat from now-convicted former governor Rod Blagojevich, with Illinois state treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, famous for running his family bank into the ground. In 2006, Giannoulias oversaw millions in loans to Michael “Jaws” Giorango, convicted bookmaker and prostitution ring promoter, that went to casinos allegedly connected to the mob. He later lied repeatedly about the loans after being questioned by the press. Despite this, Giannoulias, an old friend of Obama’s, was invited to the White House. Obama endorsed his unsuccessful Senate candidacy, saying, “You can trust him.”
House minority leader Pelosi also called for Weiner’s resignation, though she’s been oddly silent on all of the previously noted scandals—especially her own. Last year, it was revealed that the former speaker was ferrying around her grandchildren in military aircraft at taxpayer expense. More recently, it appears that Pelosi went out of her way to secure Obamacare waivers for businesses in her district.
Recall that Democrats assumed control of Congress after the 2006 election by campaigning against a GOP “culture of corruption” in the wake of scandals surrounding Majority Leader Tom Delay, lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and Rep. Mark Foley. It was a damning and fair charge.
Prior to assuming the speakership in 2007, Pelosi famously promised to “drain the swamp” in order to create “the most ethical Congress in history.” When House majority leader Steny Hoyer was asked whether Democrats had in fact “drained the swamp” heading into last year’s election, he demurred, saying, “I didn’t use that term.”
While the Republican party is hardly free of corruption, the sheer amount of Democratic scandal in the last few years is breathtaking. (Note that the words “unions” and “John Edwards trial” haven’t even been mentioned to this point.) The only casualty? Eric Massa—another New York Democrat!—who resigned after physical harassment allegations arose involving a male coworker. (Massa initially admitted to groping the aide but later said he only “tickled him until he couldn’t breathe.”) Otherwise, the Democratic leadership has been content to let everyone skate.
And oddly enough, no one in the media ever talks about a Democratic “culture of corruption.” In 2006,Time and Newsweek offered 15 pages and cover stories dedicated to the Mark Foley scandal (i.e., his harassment of underage pages) in the first 12 days after the story broke. During the first 12 days of the Weiner scandal, those same magazines devoted about 160 words to the matter.
NBC Nightly News host Brian Williams said he wouldn’t cover the Weiner story because it was crowding out more important news stories—such as the release of nearly 25,000 pedestrian emails from Sarah Palin’s tenure as Alaska governor, which NBC Nightly News promptly covered.
Democratic party leaders had no real moral standing to forcefully condemn Weiner’s behavior. Assuming he didn’t care about personal honor and shame—this is Congress, after all—what reason did Anthony Weiner really have to resign?"
Mark Hemingway is the online editor of The Weekly Standard.