May 28, 2006
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi rails against the GOP “culture of corruption.”
And in the most boneheaded political move of 2006, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., just handed her extra rope.
This has been a sorry year for congressional ethics. Cunningham pleaded guilty. Under indictment and with news reports linking him to Abramoff, Rep. Tom DeLay has announced his resignation. When he pleaded guilty, Abramoff implicated Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio. Last month, Alan Mollohan, D-W.V., stepped down from the House ethics committee after The Wall Street Journal reported that he was under investigation for directing federal spending to nonprofits with which he has financial ties. So when the FBI raided the office of Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., Hastert should have kept his head down and, for a change, let Pelosi do the squirming.
Instead, Hastert and Pelosi issued a joint statement demanding that the federal government return “the papers it unconstitutionally seized.” Bush responded by sealing the seized records for 45 days.
Be it noted that the FBI had a subpoena and the House raid followed a search of Jefferson’s home last August that netted $90,000 stashed in Jefferson’s freezer — money that allegedly came from a $100,000 bribe captured on videotape. The feds had tried to get Jefferson to honor the subpoena for months — but to no avail.
Sen. David Vitter, R-La., told The Washington Times, “Make no mistake, the American people will come to one conclusion — that congressional leaders are trying to protect their own from valid investigation.” That’s certainly how I see it.