House ethics panel legalizes bribery

Congressional "pay for play" program

The House Committee on Standards and Official Conduct ruled Friday that bribing a member of Congress is legal as long as that member can come up with another excuse for earmarking money for a campaign contributor.

The panel cleared seven lawmakers who added pork barrel earmarks to bills to spend hundred of millions of dollars of taxpayer funds on behalf of companies that poured huge campaign donations into their political warchests.

The 305-page whitewash of a report said it’s OK to accept campaign cash and reward the donor with contracts and earmarks as long as the lawmaker can claim the action was “criteria independent” of the payoff.

The ruling is a slap in the face to a few honest members of Congress who have tried to limit the growing use of earmarks to award those who pump large sums of money into the campaign coffers of elected officials who are willing to perform when paid for services.

With a recent Supreme Court ruling that allows corporations now to spend virtually unlimited amounts on behalf of candidates, the ethics committee ruling opens the door for even more widespread abuse.

“Simply because a member sponsors an earmark for an entity that also happens to be a campaign contributor does not, on these two facts alone, support a claim that a member’s actions are being influenced by campaign contributions,” said the report.

The report cleared Reps. Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio), James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.), Todd Tiahrt (R-Kan.), Peter J. Visclosky (D-Ind.), C.W. Bill Young (R-Fla.) and John P. Murtha (D-Pa), who died this month.

The seven were charged with steering $112 million worth of earmarks for clients of the PMA Group, a lobbying firm, after that firm raised more than $350,000 worth of campaign contributions for the members.

The Justice Department still has an open investigation on PMA and the bribes and the FBI raided the lobbying firm’s office and seized its records. PMA folded after the raid.

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21 Responses to "House ethics panel legalizes bribery"

  1. Sandune  February 27, 2010 at 4:25 am

    It will be interesting to see if these House members will be reelected. Murtha probably won’t but the others have shown a lack of ethics that will insure their places in our government. This next election will show the world the true integrity of the American voters. I see no reason to vote again. We keep the bastards in office and we have no reason to complain…..

  2. Lauren Yates  February 27, 2010 at 9:55 am

    Of course Murtha won’t be re-elected. He’s dead. That salient fact was pointed out in the story.

  3. Sandune  February 27, 2010 at 10:17 am

    We have had many House members reelected even when they are in prison. The American voters are not what I would call well informed. Cool it down Ms Yates.

    • Doug Thompson  February 27, 2010 at 10:34 am

      You cool down Sandy. You got caught in a mistake. Attacking someone for pointing that out is out of bounds. Admit your mistake and move on.

      • Sandune  February 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm

        I wrote about Murtha’s death somewhere here and explained that on a Conservative site he was called a whore. I have an enormous respect for Murtha and how he tired to stop the fiasco in Iraq. I was trying a little humor but again was nitpicked and called wrong. I am out of style here as usual. Sorry…..Time to go again.

        • Doug Thompson  February 27, 2010 at 12:34 pm

          If your attempt at humor was misunderstood it would have been appropriate to point it out. Jumping down someone’s throat for pointing out what they saw as a mistake was over the top. You complain that people do that to you and then tell someone else to “cool it down.” You’re guilty of a double-standard here Sandy and that’s what always gets you into trouble.

          • Sandune  February 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm

            Chief, you thought I had made a mistake too and after all these years my humor went over your head. Time for another time out. I’m involved with a ton of local Arizona stuff starting with the 2nd Amendment and illegal aliens. I’m working on actions, not silly comments.

    • Lauren Yates  February 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm

      My apologies if I offended you. I thought you had made a mistake. I’m new here and did not mean to cause any trouble.

      • Sandune  February 27, 2010 at 1:26 pm

        Lauren, no problem. I’m out of step with most people here. 14 years of whining and no desire for action has done me in. I’m very old and running out of time knowing nothing I have suggested has been successful. Individual freedoms are far more important than anything else the Congress has to offer. I apologize….

        Sandy

      • b mcclellan  February 27, 2010 at 5:37 pm

        Heck Lauren the way conservatives resurrect Reagan every election cycle it would not surprise to see Miraculous Murtha stalking the halls of power for years to come, Har. Welcome to the Zoo Ms. Yates..

  4. Warren  February 27, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Here’s a link to the Committee report. The fun part of the conclusions are several paragraphs on pages 3 and 4. It’s basically self-contradictory. It says, in summary:

    1) It’s OK for a congressman to take huge campaign donations from a special interest and then earmark vast amounts of taxpayer money for interest of the donor, as long as the congressman can parrot the rationale offered by the donor for why it’s good for the congressman’s constituents.

    2) In any event, it’s OK to take the contributions as long as the congressman doesn’t know he’s being bribed. (Ridiculous in this case since the congressmen were being played like marionettes, even told which fund-raisers to go to, which the report points out.)

    Read pages 3 and 4 for some amusement. Doug nailed it. “Whitewash.”

    —W—

  5. Issodhos  February 27, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    If I recall correctly, after decades of Democratic Party rule, it was the use of the Hosue post office as a personal piggybank that helped bring Gingrich and crowd into power. I guess some patterns never change.:-)
    Yours,
    Issodhos

    • Ant-Fascist  February 27, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      It was the house bank, where Democrats overdrew their accounts because they could. Democrats never learn not to spit in the faces of the gullible and stupid voters. Bailouts and bonuses, Bribes and exoneration. Spit, spit spit.
      Repubs don’t care. They can steal all the money from their voters as long as the say they are Patriotic and love Jesus. Obama and the Dems think that they are more patriotic if they add to the defense budget

  6. John  February 27, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    SCOTUS ruled money is “free speech”. Politicians call it a “campaign contribution”.

    Us Joe and Jane Sixpacks call it what it really is: A BRIBE to a self-legitemized criminal enterprise that has no intention of cleaning up it’s act as long as they make the rules and can get away with it.

  7. Ralph nPHX  February 27, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    Olbermann is pathetic. However, for better or worse, he is the face of MSNBC. I think they need a face lift.

  8. AustinRanter (AKA Gregg)  February 28, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    According to the statistics…and I don’t know who, how, when, or where the statistics come from, but apparently we re-elect 85% of the politicians that we spend two to four years bitching and moaning about.

    We’re committed to the status quo. It’s the path of least resistence.

  9. Carl Nemo  February 28, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    AustinRanter it’s all linked to the tasty “pulled pork sandwiches” pitched back to the braindead, greedy folks in Mayberry,USA courtesy of the U.S. Treasury “deli” and the facilitators of such, their incumbent crimpols.

    They’ve been brainwashed to the fact that incumbency is paramount in that their rep gets to sit on committees that control the earmarks; ie., “pork”. In our end times, “tasty, pulled pork” is far more important than stinkin’ freedom and values…no?!

    Carl Nemo **==

  10. Warren  February 28, 2010 at 9:50 pm

    Hey, Carl, there are some places in this country where one should not cast aspersion on pulled pork sandwiches. #;->

    —W—

    • Carl Nemo  March 1, 2010 at 2:54 am

      Me too Warren, in fact it’s one my favorite things; ie,a barbecued pulled pork sandwich on a ciabatta bun, but not of the kind I was referencing…: )

      Carl Nemo **==

      • Warren  March 1, 2010 at 8:12 pm

        There’s the bun of course, but it’s the sauce that makes it. “Secret”. Just tangy enough, just sweet enough, just spicy enough. Oh, and the fries; *just* crispy on the outside while still soggy on the inside. Fried in grease of questionable origin that hasn’t been changed for six months. And the slaw; cabbage, a bit of carrot for color, some dill and basil, pepper and vinegar. None of that white stuff. Dang. Now I’m hungry.

        —W—

        • Carl Nemo  March 1, 2010 at 11:36 pm

          Reading your description of this yummy sandwich along with the sides one can understand why crimpols and their constituents back home in Mayberry lick their ever-greedy chops when they think of the ‘pulled pork’ coming their way courtesy of the Treasury deli.

          Best yet for them, they never consider who’s going to pay for the meal. / : |

          Carl Nemo **==

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