Frist, Burns, Santorum among most corrupt members of Congress

Seventeen Republicans and three Democrats rank as the 20 most corrupt members of Congress according to a public interest citizen group’s annual report.  An additional four Republicans and one Democrat are on a "watch list" because of potential ethical problems.

The list includes Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, scandal-tainted Montana Sen. Conrad Burns and controversial Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum. The "watch list" includes House Speaker Dennis J. Hastert and Pennsylvania Congressman John Murtha.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Thursday released its second annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress entitled Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and five to watch).

This encyclopedic report on corruption in the 109th Congress documents the egregious, unethical and possibly illegal activities of the most tainted members of Congress. CREW has compiled the members’ transgressions and analyzed them in light of federal laws and congressional rules.

"CREW created this exhaustive go-to guide on corruption in Congress to expose and hold accountable those members of Congress who believe they are above the law," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. "The officials named in this report have chosen to enrich themselves and their families and friends by abusing the power of their office, rather than work for the public good. Their collective corruption affects all Americans."

An August 2006 Harris poll shows that 77 percent of Americans have a negative view of Congress and a May 2006 Gallup poll indicates that 83 percent of Americans consider corruption a serious issue.

Sloan continued, "Congress persists in abdicating its constitutional responsibility to police itself, opting to ignore the ethical and legal transgressions of its members. Luckily for the public, at least the Department of Justice still believes that political corruption is worth pursuing."

Several other members’ careers have been tarnished or destroyed by their corrupt activities. In addition to Reps. Ney and Cunningham, former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas) has been indicted in Texas and is facing possible federal indictment in the Jack Abramoff scandal and Reps. William Jefferson (D-La.), Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.), as well as Sens. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) are now under federal investigation.

Two members have been removed from last year’s list of 13. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Calif.) is now serving an eight-year jail term for bribery and Rep. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) has agreed to plead guilty to crimes that will likely result in a minimum two-year prison term.

CREW has also re-launched the report’s tandem website, http://www.beyonddelay.org. The site offers short summaries of each member’s transgressions as well as the full-length profiles and all accompanying exhibits.

CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress:

Senate:

  • Conrad Burns (R-Mont.)
  • Bill Frist (R-Tenn.)
  • Rick Santorum (R-Pa.)

House:

  • Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
  • Ken Calvert (R-Calif.)
  • John Doolittle (R-Calif.)
  • Tom Feeney (R-Fla.)
  • Katherine Harris (R-Fla.)
  • William Jefferson (D-La.)
  • Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.)
  • Gary Miller (R-Calif.)
  • Alan Mollohan (D-W.V.)
  • Marilyn Musgrave (R-Colo.)
  • Richard Pombo (R-Calif.)
  • Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.)
  • Pete Sessions (R-Texas)
  • John Sweeney (R-N.Y.)
  • Charles Taylor (R-N.C.)
  • Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)
  • Curt Weldon (R-Pa.)

Five Members to Watch:

  • Chris Cannon (R-Utah)
  • J.D. Hayworth (R-Ariz.)
  • Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.)
  • John Murtha (D-Pa.)
  • Don Sherwood (R-Pa.)

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit, legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions.