Going after the crooks

If Congress has its jockey shorts, briefs and panties in a twist now over the FBI raid of a crooked Congressman’s office, just wait until they see what awaits them on the campaign trail this year.

Writes Alexander Bolton in The Hill:

Federal law-enforcement officials say they witnessed a dramatic jump in campaign-finance and other election-related crimes in the 2004 presidential election year and are determined to beef up their policing of candidates running for federal and local office around the country this year.

Illegal fundraising schemes appear to have grown in number and sophistication as candidates have needed to raise more and more money to be competitive. Several members of Congress have recently found themselves caught up in fundraising controversies.

In the past year and a half, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has reassigned nearly 200 agents to the problem of public corruption, bringing to 600 the total number of agents working on public-integrity cases.

While the Justice Department’s increased focus on public corruption has been talked about in Washington, the FBI’s elevation of such crimes among its priorities is less known. Even less noticed has been the FBI’s new focus on violations of election law, which for years law-enforcement officials considered minor crimes, lawyers specializing in the field said.

But that is changing as candidates and their supporters have become bolder and more creative in skirting fundraising and election law. Furthermore, legislation Congress passed in 2002 making many election-law violations felonies has given law-enforcement officials greater incentive to investigate and prosecute.

Oh well. Candidates are always claiming they run on their records.