A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS
[BuzzFlash note: We decided to update this article, originally posted last Monday, after a reader noted two glaring omissions to our list, Gov. Matt Blunt and Rep. Roy Blunt of Missouri. Since we obviously can't include every Republican scoundrel, please feel free to add your own comments below if you can think of anyone else who ought to be mentioned.]
We all know about the various laws Tom DeLay has broken, but not everyone is aware of many of the other examples of corruption by other Republican officials across the country. Most of them don't even come from the White House, although the Bush Administration certainly has its share.
For the benefit of our readers, BuzzFlash has compiled a list of just a few of the most recent and egregious offenders. Please note that this collection is hardly comprehensive, as it would take a full dissertation to justly examine Republican transgressions.
Gov. Matt Blunt (MO)
As Secretary of State in 2004, spent $48,000 in federal money on statewide advertising - featuring his name and picture - encouraging people to vote in the upcoming elections, in which he ran for governor. Received thousands from out-of-state donors trying to appease his father, Rep. Roy Blunt (see below). Awarded $3.6 million in state no-bid contracts to the wife and brother-in-law of the US Attorney investigating him for corruption.
Rep. Roy Blunt (MO), House Republican Whip
Inserted provision benefiting Philip Morris into the bill creating the Homeland Security Department just hours after becoming Whip without telling anyone. Turns out his son was a Philip Morris lobbyist, as was his girlfriend (and future wife), and the company gave his PAC $32,400 days later. He also introduced a bill unfairly benefiting UPS, who the same son then worked as a lobbyist for, and who also gave his campaign tens of thousands of dollars. Participated in money-laundering scheme with Tom Delay in 2000 to divert thousands for his son, Matt Blunt's (see above), campaign for Secretary of State. Received contributions from Jack Abramoff and his clients, who he often supported in Congress.
Gov. Ernie Fletcher (KY)
Exercised blatant favoritism in state employment hiring based on partisan loyalties. Many top Republican officials were indicted in the scandal, including the Transportation Secretary and Deputy Secretary, State GOP Chairman, and Fletcher's Personnel Advisor, Deputy Personnel Secretary, and Deputy Chief of Staff. Fletcher was issued 29 indictments, including for conspiracy, official misconduct and political discrimination. He issued a blanket pardon to everyone involved in the case so that they would not testify against him, which may have led to the deal he got last week dropping the charges.
Gov. Bob Taft (OH)
Promised wealthy donors giving $25,000-50,000 to the Ohio GOP that they would get "access to key GOP officeholders," seats in his private box for football games, and full anonymity. He called this club of participants "Team Ohio." Taft was convicted for failing to disclose $5,800 in gifts from lobbyists, and his approval rating dropped as low as 6.5%.
Secretary of State Ken Blackwell (OH)
During 2004 presidential election, was co-chair of Committee to Re-elect Bush in Ohio despite being Ohio's Chief Elections Officer (think Katherine Harris, but better looking in a dress). Responsible for massive vote suppression through uneven machine allocation and exclusion of provisional ballots, as well as his refusal to accept voter registration forms printed on anything lighter than 80-lb paper (such as normal typing or copier paper).
Rep. Bob Ney (OH)
Used his power to grant favors to the Jack Abramoff lobbying team in exchange for gifts, including a free trips to the Super Bowl, Northern Marianas Islands, Scotland, the use of luxury boxes at sporting events, and concerts and meals. Under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for bribery, he recently decided not to seek reelection.
Ralph Regula (OH)
Earmarked more than $2 million as senior member of Appropriations Committee to create the First Ladies National Historic Site in his district, to be headed by his own wife. He also accepted thousands of dollars from Abramoff and Rep. Ney.
GOP official and fundraiser Thomas Noe (OH)
Funneled $45,400 to Bush's 2004 campaign using two dozen people as conduits, for which he later pled guilty to several counts for illegal campaign contributions. Central figure of "Coingate," where he was given $50 million to invest for the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation through rare coin funds, of which he lost $13 million.
Gov. Frank Murkowski (AK)
Appointed own daughter, Lisa Murkowski, to complete his Senate term after becoming governor. Bought a private jet with government funds after being denied by the legislature and told not to by the federal government. Allowed BP to not maintain their oil equipment, leading to the leaks and corrosion that caused the recent shutdown of an oil field. He was just creamed in GOP gubernatorial primary, coming in third with just 19% of the vote.
Rep. Randall "Duke" Cunningham (CA)
Pled guilty to accepting at least $2.4 million in bribes and underreporting his income for 2004. He also pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud, wire fraud, and tax evasion. He resigned in disgrace last year.
Rep. Jerry Lewis (CA)
Used position as Appropriations Committee chairman (and formerly Defense Appropriations Subcommittee chairman) to steer hundreds of millions of dollars to clients of the lobbying firm of his good friend. These clients have given the firm millions of dollars, and hundreds of thousands to Lewis' campaign and political action committees (which he used to buy the support of his colleagues to attain the Appropriations chairmanship).
Rep. John Doolittle (CA)
Pays his wife 15% commission for fundraising for his own reelection campaigns. During the last two election cycles, she has received this commission for every dollar raised, and in total has been paid nearly $180,000 so far. Also, Jack Abramoff and his clients have given tens of thousands of dollars to Doolittle and his wife.
Rep. Richard Pombo (CA)
Spent $68,081 in taxpayer money to send partisan leaflets to swing states just before the 2004 election. Charged the government $5,000 for a two week family vacation. Paid 25% of campaign funds raised to wife and brother over last two election cycles, totaling $357,325. His staff has tried to remove critical information about his ties to Jack Abramoff from Wikipedia.
Rep. Ken Calvert (CA)
Earmarked $9.5 million in federal funding to improve land near property he had owned for less than a year, and then quickly sold the property for nearly double what he paid for it. Arrested for solicitation of prostitution in 1993 but still voted to impeach Clinton.
Sen. Bill Frist (TN)
Fined by FEC for failing to disclose a $1.44 million loan in his 2000 reelection campaign. (Incorrectly) diagnosed Terry Schiavo based on old, edited videotapes. Claimed not to know if his blind trust contained stock from HCA (the lucrative health care company founded by the Frist family), when he was in fact provided with regular updates on the status of his assets. Sold his HCA stock two weeks before a negative company report caused a substantial drop in share price, leading to investigations over insider trading. To avoid paying estate taxes, he transferred $2 million in inherited HCA stock to own nonprofit (of which Frist and his wife are the only trustees), whose only substantial contribution was a $877,000 to his old elite Nashville high school, which now has a building bearing his name. Started a charity, World of Hope, saying it was for AIDS treatment, but did not hire experts or professionals. "Instead, World of Hope served as a resting place for Republican political staff and Frist campaign alumni," according to the DNC.
State Treasurer Lorelee Byrd (NE)
Wrote 12 government checks totaling $300,000 and stashed them in her safe before voiding them after the Legislative session ended so nobody would notice. Forced to resign.
As we noted, these are just a few of many examples of recent Republican corruption. And this doesn't even include the White House! For a party that continues to use Bill Clinton's personal indiscretions as a scapegoat for all their failures, no matter how unrelated, the Republican party has an appalling number of its own transgressions.
But is anyone really surprised?
A BUZZFLASH NEWS ANALYSIS