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If Democrats are truly sincere about cleaning up Congress, they need to prove it by purging their own collections of crooks, thieves and con-artists.
Corruption’s bi-partisanship reared its ugly head this weekend when FBI agents raided the Capitol Hill office of crooked Representative William Jefferson (D-LA) and revealed they caught the bribe-taking Congressman accepting 100 grand from an undercover agent.
Washington insiders have known for years that Jefferson was dirty yet Democrats continued to tolerate his presence in their midst just like Republicans turned a blind-eye to crooks like Randy "Duke Cunningham" (now in jail) and former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (headed there soon).
Jefferson isn’t the only dirty Dem. West Virginia’s Allan Mollohan finally gave up his seat on, of all things, the House Ethics Committee when even his fellow party members could no longer ignore his many ethical lapses.
But the Dems have yet to do anything about Corrine Brown, the fast-talking con artist who left a trail of failed businesses, bad checks and betrayed business partners in Florida. After coming to Washington, Rep. Brown continued her criminal ways, accepting homes, cars and cash from fatcat supporters.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi promises to "clean up" Congress if her party regains control in the November mid-term elections but I’m more than a little skeptical given her reluctance to start cleaning house within her own party ranks. Mollohan’s ethical problems were known for months before she started pressuring him to resign. An investigation of Jefferson only began last week after months of negotiations with Republicans and only after the GOP offered up one of their own (Bob Ney of Ohio) as a quid pro quo for joint investigation.
Pelosi promises an immediate probe of George W. Bush’s behavior if Dems win control. Others in her party want to launch immediate impeachment proceedings – an act of revenge for the GOP-engineered and botched impeachment of Bill Clinton. Extracting revenge on Republicans for their mismanagement of Congress is not true reform. Neither is replacing one set of crooks with another.
Those who march to a partisan flag often defend their own party’s transgressions by claiming the other side is dirtier, that their crimes are greater, and that minor corruption is acceptable when your ultimate goal is the "greater good."
That’s bullshit. You are either honest or you are not. You either serve the public trust or your own greed. You either apply the same standards to everyone or you are just another partisan shill who puts party politics above the best interests of the nation.
George W. Bush and his gang that controls both the House and Senate have committed many crimes against this nation. They have shredded the Constitution, trampled without mercy on freedom and individual rights and plunged the country into deep, possibly uncontrollable, debt. Their first round of punishment for their crimes should come at the hands of voters in November.
But if the voters hand control of Congress to the Democrats, they must prove themselves worthy of the public trust. They must insist that their own kind live by the same ethical standards they seek to impose on others. They should adopt a "zero tolerance" policy regarding fellow Democrats and impose that policy now, proving before November that they can make the hard choices needed to clean up Congress.
Unless they do, promises of reform will be just empty campaign rhetoric and life in Congress under a new Democratic leadership will be just business as usual.