Democrat Dirty Laundry: Associated Press: “Democrats mired in swamp they vowed to drain”

March 5, 2010

Associated Press: “Democrats mired in swamp they vowed to drain”

Eight Months from November, Dems Sink Deeper into Muck of Deceit and Hypocrisy


SPIN CYCLE: Pelosi Once Promised to ‘Drain the Swamp’ and Sweep Corruption out of Washington


“‘Drain the swamp’ means to turn this Congress into the most honest and open Congress in history. That’s my pledge — that is what I intend to do,’ Pelosi stated in an interview with NBC’s  Brian Williams.” (Brian Williams, “Rep. Pelosi poised to make history”, NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, 11/08/2006)


RINSE CYLCE: Democrats Stand Knee-Deep in ‘Culture of Corruption’ Eight Months from Election Day


A rash of ethics lapses has given Democrats an election-year headache: how to convince skeptical voters that they’re any cleaner than Republicans they accused of fostering a “culture of corruption” in 2006.


From the conduct of governors in Illinois and New York to back-room deals over President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, Democrats are drawing their own criticism when it comes to the ethics of public officials.


The party that pledged to “drain the swamp” if given control of Congress finds itself sinking in the muck nine months from Election Day, when every member of the House and 36 Senate seats will be chosen.


The sword of sanctimony cuts both ways, warns a Republican felled by his own scandal in the weeks before the 2006 elections, as then-Rep. Nancy Pelosi led the campaign cry to end “the culture of corruption that has thrived under this Republican Congress.”



Between now and November can be several lifetimes in political terms. But there are plenty of scandalous developments that could pop in the interim. The closer to the balloting, the tougher it is to stem the damage.


Democrats say they should get credit—or at least not be punished at the polls—for trying to clean up Capitol Hill with an independent ethics office that didn’t exist under Republican rule.


“I think we’ve come a long way since I became speaker with the outside ethics groups and now we have a functioning ethics committee, bipartisan and independent of the speaker,” Pelosi told reporters Thursday.


But because Democrats gained control of the White House and Congress in part by vowing to cleanse the institutions of government, breaches by party members high and low raise questions of hypocrisy.


The list is long.



Dark-of-night dealmaking and misbehaving members are traditions as old as government itself, the price of putting ambitious human beings in positions of power and showering them with privileges unknown to most people they govern. “There must be some sort of greed virus that attacks those in power,” U.S. District Judge T.S. Ellis III said in November when sentencing former Democratic Rep. William Jefferson of Louisiana to 13 years in prison for taking bribes. The judge called public corruption “a cancer on the body politic.”


And winning seats, not cleansing candidates or the legislature, is the top priority of party leaders.



More ethics news is in store for Democrats. Rangel, for example, still faces decisions over his conduct.


Democratic discomfort over that matter was clear in the immediate aftermath of his decision to step aside as chairman. Pelosi and other leaders stayed silent on the automatic promotion of the Democrat next in line: Rep. Pete Stark, the volatile Californian, whose conduct also was the subject of an ethics probe in which he was eventually cleared of wrongdoing. Early Thursday, he stepped aside to allow the congenial Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan to take the gavel. (Laurie Kellman and Larry Margasak, “Democrats mired in swamp they vowed to drain,” Associated Press, 3/04/2010)


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