It is that time of year again: Time for the Judicial Watch annual roster of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians.” The purpose of the list, which is widely distributed in the press, is to put the spotlight on some of DC’s most unethical politicians who have undermined the rule of law and abused the public trust. This list is a powerful tool to educate Americans about the bipartisan problem of corruption in Washington and about Judicial Watch’s critical work in holding corrupt politicians accountable to the rule of law.
The “Top Ten” list for 2011, in alphabetical order, includes: Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL); Former Senator John Ensign (R-NV); Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL); Attorney General Eric Holder; Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL); President Barack Obama; Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA); Rep. Don Young (R-AK); Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA); and Rep. David Rivera (R-FL).
Now, after reviewing the year’s top scandals, we just could not stop at ten corrupt politicians so we’ve added seven additional names in a category we call “Dishonorable Mentions.” And they include in alphabetical order: Former Senator John Edwards (D-NC); Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA); Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA); Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano; Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA); Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY); Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.
Now the list below, remember, is in alphabetical order:
WASHINGTON’S TOP TEN “MOST WANTED CORRUPT POLITICIANS:
Spencer Bachus (R-AL): He has become the face of a congressional “insider trading” scandal that has rocked the Washington establishment as 2011 draws to a close. Rep. Spencer Bachus, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, was one of the principal targets of a 60 Minutes investigative report on the scandal, which aired on CBS in September 2011.
The report was based, at least in part, on the book Throw Them All Out by author Peter Schweizer, which outed a slew of members of Congress who allegedly profited in the financial markets by trading on insider information. Bachus was not the only congressman cited by 60 Minutes – others included Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi – but the Alabama Republican stood out for his remarkable “good fortune” in shorting the stock market.
- Casa De Maryland To Raise $10 Mil For Campaign To Defend DREAM Act — December 29, 2011
- New Obamacare Tax To Help Govt. Ration Healthcare — December 29, 2011
- DOL To Enforce Illegal Immigrants’ Federal “Rights” — December 28, 2011
- Another $845 Mil For Fraud-Infested Welfare Program — December 27, 2011
According to the allegations made by Schweizer and 60 Minutes, Congressman Bachus at the time the ranking Republican on the Financial Services Committee, traded short-term stock options in 2008 after receiving a private briefing for congressional leaders by Secretary of the Treasury Hank Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke. The subject of the briefing: the pending meltdown in the global economy. Those privileged to attend the meeting reportedly sat around a table in Pelosi’s office, having left their cell phones outside the room to avoid leaks.
Congressman Bachus’s aggressive trading practices, in which he was able to benefit by betting on falling stock prices, reportedly earned him substantial profits from some of the 40 trades placed during the months of July through November 2008, many of the trades occurring after the September meeting.
In the wake of the congressional insider trading scandal, legislation banning insider trading is under consideration in Congress. The Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee advanced a bill banning insider trading on December 14, 2011. Similar legislation (pushed by Rep. Bachus himself, obviously to deflect criticism) has stalled in the House. Critics have suggested, and so has the House Ethics Committee, that the law already prohibits insider trading by members of Congress.
Former Senator John Ensign (R-NV): John Ensign, former U.S. Senator from Nevada and former Chairman of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, was forced to resign from office in May 2011 as the result of an investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. In a scandal that first broke in 2009, Senator Ensign publicly admitted to an affair with the wife of long-time staffer Douglas Hampton. Ensign then allegedly tried to cover up the affair by bribing the couple with lucrative gifts and political favors.
According to The New York Times, after Hampton discovered the affair involving his wife Cynthia, the senator bought his silence by giving him “a strong boost into a lobbying career.” Ensign asked political backers to find Hampton a job. “Payments of $96,000 to the Hamptons also were made by Senator Ensign’s parents, who insist this was a gift, not hush money. Once a lobbying job was secured, Senator Ensign and his chief of staff continued to help Mr. Hampton, advocating his clients’ cases directly with federal agencies.”
These lobbying activities seemingly violated the law related to the Senate’s “cooling off” period for lobbyists. According to Senate rules, former Senate aides “may not lobby the Member for whom he worked or that Member’s staff for a period of one year after leaving position.” Hampton began to lobby Ensign’s office immediately upon leaving his job on Capitol Hill.
In November 2010, the Federal Election Commission dismissed a complaint that Ensign had violated campaign-finance laws, and in December, the Obama Department of Justice (DOJ) announced that it would file no criminal charges against the senator. Ensign, however, was unable to avoid the ongoing investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee. In May 2011, the Senate Ethics Committee issued a devastating report that summarized the evidence against Ensign and made the extraordinary recommendation that the DOJ reopen a criminal investigation.
Attorney General Eric Holder: Attorney General Eric Holder now operates the most politicized and ideological DOJ in recent history. And revelations from the Operation Fast and Furious scandal suggest that programs approved by the Holder DOJ may have resulted in the needless deaths of many, including a federal law enforcement officer.
Fast and Furious was a DOJ/Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) “gun-running” operation in which guns were sold to Mexican drug cartels and others, apparently in hopes that the guns would end up at crime scenes. This reckless insanity seems to have resulted in, among other crimes, the murder of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was killed in a shootout with Mexican criminals in December 2010. Fast and Furious guns were found at the scene of his death.
The Fast and Furious operation by itself should have resulted in Holder’s resignation, but it is the cover-up that has prompted serious calls for Holder’s ouster.
On May 3, 2011, in a House Judiciary Committee hearing chaired by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Holder testified: “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” Newly released documents show he was receiving weekly briefings on Fast and Furious as far back as July 5, 2010. It appears Holder lied to Congress. (Judicial Watch sued the DOJ and the ATF to obtain Fast and Furious records. The Judicial Watch investigation continues.)
Unfortunately, when it comes to Holder corruption and abuse of office, Fast and Furious is just the tip of the iceberg.
On February 23, 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that DOJ lawyers would no longer defend the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), as applied to homosexual couples. DOMA had passed Congress by a vote of 85-14 in the Senate and a vote of 342-67 in the House. President Clinton signed the act into law on September 21, 1996.
Judicial Watch filed two Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuits against the DOJ (including one on behalf of the Family Research Council) for records related to this pro-homosexual marriage decision. This failure to defend this federal law is unprecedented and raises serious questions as to whether President Obama and Eric Holder are upholding their oaths of office and following the Constitution’s command to “take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
The DOJ continues to stonewall the release of information regarding Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan’s participation in Obamacare discussions when she served as Solicitor General. In addition to forcing Judicial Watch to file a lawsuit to obtain this information, Holder’s DOJ thumbed its nose at Congress by failing to release this material to the Senate Judiciary Committee during Kagan’s judicial confirmation hearing. Holder continues to personally resist requests from Judicial Watch and Congress for additional information on this controversy. Kagan’s role in these discussions is especially significant now that the U.S. Supreme Court has announced it will consider challenges to the constitutionality of Obamacare in Spring 2012.
New revelations emerged in 2011 about the DOJ’s Black Panther scandal. Judicial Watch uncovered evidence that the liberal special interest group National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) may have had an inappropriate amount of influence on the DOJ’s decision to drop its voter intimidation lawsuit against the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense. This comes on the heels of sworn testimony that the Civil Rights Division of the Holder DOJ makes enforcement decisions based upon race.
Most recently, Judicial Watch obtained shocking documents suggesting the Holder DOJ is conspiring with scandal-ridden Project Vote (President Obama’s former employer and ACORN front) to use the National Voter Registration Act to increase welfare voter registrations. One former ACORN employee (and current Project Vote Director of Advocacy), Estelle Rogers, is even helping to vet job candidates for the DOJ’s Voting Rights Division! (ACORN and Project Vote have a long record of voter registration fraud.)
Seeming to affirm ACORN’s hijacking of the DOJ, Holder recently said in a speech that he plans to use “the full weight” of the agency in 2012 to attack states that are enforcing laws that protect against fraud in the voting booths. This speech ended the pretense that the DOJ is independent from the Democratic National Committee and the Obama campaign – as it repeated almost verbatim the partisan arguments made by the Democratic Party against voter ID laws.
Holder must go. Pick your reason – Black Panthers, race-based decision making, abandoning the Defense of Marriage Act, Fast and Furious killings and lies, or turning the DOJ into an arm of the radicalized left – but Holder must go.
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL): In a year full of shocking congressional sex scandals, perhaps none is more serious than that involving Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings, who allegedly sexually harassed a female government employee and then engaged in a cruel campaign of retaliation when she rebuffed his advances. (On March 7, 2011, Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against Hastings on behalf of the victim, Ms. Winsome Packer.)
The alleged harassment and retaliation began in 2008 when Hastings (formerly an impeached federal judge) served as Chairman of the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Ms. Packer served as his employee. According to Judicial Watch’s complaint, “Mr. Hastings’ intention was crystal clear: he was sexually attracted to Ms. Packer, wanted a sexual relationship with her, and would help progress her career if she acquiesced to his sexual advances.”
These advances included: Making multiple demands that Ms. Packer allow Rep. Hastings to stay in her apartment while she served as the Commission’s lead staff representative overseas; subjecting Ms. Packer to unwanted physical contact, including hugging her with both arms while pressing his body against her body and his face against her face; inviting her on multiple occasions to accompany him alone to his hotel room; making sexual comments and references to Ms. Packer; and asking Ms. Packer humiliating and inappropriate questions in public, such as “What kind of underwear are you wearing?”
In addition, Hastings seems to have abused his office by using government travel as a cover for sightseeing and by soliciting gifts and campaign contributions from congressional staff.
On November 28, 2011, The House Ethics Committee announced that it will take an additional 45 days to determine whether to launch a full investigation into the allegations against Hastings.
Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) and the Blagojevich Co-Conspirators: It took more than two years and two trials, but disgraced former Illinois Governor Rod “Blago” Blagojevich was finally brought to justice on June 27, 2011, for a number of crimes, including his efforts to “sell” President Obama’s vacant Senate seat to the highest bidder. He became the state’s fourth governor, and one of at least 79 Illinois public officials, to be found guilty of a crime since 1972, proving that Illinois has certainly lived up to its reputation as a cesspool of corruption.
As the trial unfolded, it became clear that many hands were dirty in the Blago scandal. (See Chicago Mayor and former Obama Chief of Staff Rahm “Rahmbo” Emanuel, who was finally forced to testify during this second Blago trial – for a whopping five minutes – and President Obama himself, who was interviewed by the FBI in the scandal even before he took office.)
But all of the focus now seems to center on Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.
The House Ethics Committee announced on December 2, 2011, that it will continue its investigation into allegations that “Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. or someone acting on his behalf offered to raise campaign cash for then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich in exchange for a Senate appointment in 2008….The committee also released an initial report from the Office of Congressional Ethics that said there was “probable cause” to believe that Jackson either directed a third party or had knowledge of a third party’s effort to convince the since-convicted Blagojevich to appoint Jackson Jr. in exchange for campaign cash.
The evidence suggests Jackson, Jr. attempted to bribe his way into the U.S. Senate. And it will take a monumental lack of attention on the part of the House Ethics Committee to overlook the Illinois Congressman’s role in this serious scandal.
President Barack Obama: President Obama makes Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted” list for a fifth consecutive year. (The former Illinois Senator was also a “Dishonorable Mention” in 2006.) And when it comes to Obama corruption, it may not get any bigger than Solyndra. Solyndra was once known as the poster child for the Obama administration’s massive “green energy” initiative, but it has become the poster child for the corruption that ensues when the government meddles in the private sector. Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September 2011, leaving 1,100 workers without jobs and the American taxpayers on the hook for $535 million thanks to an Obama administration stimulus loan guarantee.
Despite the Obama administration’s reticence to release details regarding this scandal, much is known about this shady deal. White House officials warned the president that the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program was “dangerously short on due diligence,” nonetheless the Obama administration rushed the Solyndra loan through the approval process so it could make a splash at a press event. The company’s main financial backer was a major Obama campaign donor named George Kaiser. While the White House said Kaiser never discussed the loan with White House officials, the evidence suggests this is a lie. And, further demonstrating the political nature of the Obama administration’s activities, the Energy Department pressured Solyndra to delay an announcement on layoffs until after the 2010 elections. Despite the public outrage at this scandalous waste of precious tax dollars, President Obama continues to defend the indefensible and has refused to sack anyone over the Solyndra mess.
President Obama continues to countenance actions by his appointees that undermine the rule of law and constitutional government:
- Despite a ban on funding that Obama signed into law, his administration continues to fund the corrupt and allegedly defunct “community” organization ACORN. In July 2011 Judicial Watch uncovered a $79,819 grant to AHCOA (Affordable Housing Centers of America), the renamed ACORN Housing which has a long history of corrupt activity. In absolute violation of the funding ban, Judicial Watch has since confirmed that the Obama administration has funneled $730,000 to the ACORN network, a group that has a long personal history with President Obama. In 2011, JW released a special report entitled “The Rebranding of ACORN,” which details how the ACORN network is alive and well and well-placed to undermine the integrity of the 2012 elections – evidently with the assistance of the Obama administration.
- Barack Obama apparently believes it is his “prerogative” to ignore the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law when it comes to appointing czars. According to Politico: “President Barack Obama is planning to ignore language in the 2011 spending package that would ban several top White House advisory posts.” Obama said this ban on “czars” would undermine “the President’s ability to exercise his constitutional responsibilities and take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” In other words, Barack Obama believes he must ignore the U.S. Constitution to protect the U.S. Constitution. Many Obama administration czars have not been subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate as required by the U.S. Constitution. In 2011, JW released a first-of-its-kind comprehensive report on the Obama czar scandal, entitled “President Obama’s Czars.”
- In a historic victory for Judicial Watch and an embarrassing defeat for the Obama White House, a federal court ruled on August 17, 2011 that Secret Service White House visitor logs are agency records that are subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. U.S. District Judge Beryl Howell issued the decision in Judicial Watch v. Secret Service (No. 09-2312). The Obama administration now will have to release all records of all visitors to the White House – or explain why White House visits should be kept secret under the law. The Obama White House continues to fight full disclosure and has stalled the release of records by appealing the lower court decision. Judicial Watch gave Obama a “failing grade” on transparency in testimony before Congress in 2011. (Read the testimony in full as well as additional congressional testimony during a hearing entitled “White House Transparency, Visitor Logs and Lobbyists.”)
- In 2011, the Obama National Labor Relations Board sought to prevent the Seattle-based Boeing Company from opening a $750 million non-union assembly line in North Charleston, South Carolina, to manufacture its Dreamliner plane. Judicial Watch obtained documents from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) showing this lawsuit was politically motivated. Judicial Watch uncovered documents showing NLRB staff cheerleading for Big Labor, mouthing Marxist, anti-American slurs and showing contempt for Congress related to the agency’s lawsuit against Boeing, including email correspondence attacking members of Congress. And it starts at the top. Obama bypassed Congress and recess-appointed Craig Becker, who is connected to the AFL-CIO, the SEIU and ACORN, to the NRLB.
- Obama’s corrupt Chicago dealings continued to haunt him in 2011. Obama’s real estate partner, campaign fundraiser and Obama pork recipient Antoin “Tony” Rezko was finally sentenced to jail this year as was former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, who is now set to serve 14 years for attempting to sell Obama’s former Senate seat to the highest bidder. The FBI continues to withhold from Judicial Watch documents of its historic interview of then-Senator Obama about the Illinois corruption scandal. The FBI interview was conducted in December, 2008, about one month before Obama was sworn into the presidency.
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA): A first-timer on Judicial Watch’s “Ten Most Wanted” list, Rep. Laura Richardson is in hot water for reportedly misusing her congressional staff for personal and political gain. Rep. Richardson is now under investigation by the House Ethics Committee regarding allegations by former staff member Maria Angel Macias. Macias alleges that she was required by Richardson to order other staffers to run personal errands for the Democrat congresswoman – such as picking up her dry cleaning – and to work on her re-election campaign at taxpayer expense.
Richardson’s alleged behavior would violate federal law, which protects federal employees from “being forced by job-related threats or reprisals to donate to political candidates or causes.” House ethics rules also specify that “in no event may a member or office compel a House employee to do campaign work.”
Macias indicated to the Committee that Richardson regularly directed her to call staff members outside of office hours to “make them work at campaign events.” According to former employees, they were required to work the extended hours “under threat of dismissal,” and reportedly, were even required to act as servers at such events. Shirley Cooks, chief of staff for Representative Richardson, was also directed to ensure that staff members “volunteered” for off-hour campaign projects.
Rep. Richardson has responded by denying that she has ever forced employees to volunteer on campaigns, and then played the “race card,” claiming she is being targeted because she is black and because she is a woman. Richardson has further indicated that she would explore whether the Ethics Committee “has engaged in discriminatory conduct,” which is a blatant attempt to intimidate committee members and undermine the investigation.
Richardson is not new to controversy and investigations of ethics violations. Complaints against her include commandeering emergency helicopters in her California district for use as sightseeing vehicles for her staff and of her receiving special treatment when a bank rescinded the sale of a foreclosed home Rep. Richardson owned in Sacramento and then restructured her mortgage. (This was the third home on which Rep. Richardson had missed payments.)
The House Ethics Committee failed to punish her over the foreclosure deal (no surprises there) and approximately one year later Richardson again defaulted on her payments. True to form, however, Richardson failed to take responsibility for her actions, claiming the default was due to a “clerical error.”
Rep. David Rivera (R-FL): Rep. David Rivera, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 25th congressional district, is mired in numerous ethics controversies stemming from charges of money laundering and tax evasion schemes initiated when Rivera served in the Florida House of Representatives. The Republican congressman, serving his first term, is currently under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, the Miami-Dade Police public corruption unit, and the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s office.
Of particular interest is the investigation by the FBI and the IRS regarding Rep. Rivera’s dealings with the Flagler Dog Track, now known as the Magic City Casino. The basis for the investigation relates to payments reportedly totaling as much as $1 million made by the casino to Millennium Marketing in the guise of a consulting contract. Most of the money is said to have been paid in 2008.
Millennium Marketing is owned by Rivera’s mother and godmother, and Rivera supposedly benefited from the arrangement, and is thus the subject of a tax evasion inquiry. Income from the consulting contract was never reported by Rivera on his tax forms, nor did he mention the Millennium deal in financial disclosure forms filed with the Florida Ethics Commission. Instead, Rivera indicated that he had worked as a consultant for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in addition to being a member of the Florida House of Representatives. He reported no income for USAID, however, and the agency had no record of his having ever worked there.
For a long time, Rep. Rivera denied ever receiving any income from the dog track, but just before heading to Congress, Rivera admitted receiving $132,000 in “undisclosed loans” from Millennium. He claims he paid the money back.
Participating in the dog track inquiry – and at one time having had the lead on the case – is the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, assisted by the Miami-Dade Police. Investigators are also taking a close look at Rivera’s campaign spending, including $75,000 he paid in 2010 “to a now-defunct consulting company owned by the daughter of a top aide.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA): Rep. Maxine Waters is one of the most senior and one of the most outspoken members of Congress. She is also one of the most corrupt.
In August 2010, an investigative subcommittee of the House Ethics Committee charged Rep. Waters with three counts of violating House rules and ethics regulations in connection with her use of power and influence on behalf of OneUnited Bank. She was expected to face an ethics trial in late 2010, but the committee delayed the trial indefinitely on November 29, 2010, citing newly discovered documentary evidence that may impact proceedings.
The delay apparently has less to do with evidence and more to do with infighting on the panel. Ultimately, an outside counsel was retained and a recommendation was expected by January 2, 2012. However, the Committee announced that the Waters probe will be extended until July 31, 2012.
According to The Associated Press, the charges currently under the House Ethics Committee microscope “focus on whether Waters broke the rules in requesting federal help [bailout money] for a bank where her husband owned stock and had served on the board of directors.” At the time she requested the help, Waters neglected to tell Treasury officials about her financial ties to OneUnited Bank.
Without intervention by Waters (and a big assist from her co-conspirator Rep. Barney Frank), OneUnited was an extremely unlikely candidate for Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funding. The Treasury Department indicated that it would only provide bailout funds to healthy banks to jump-start lending. However, Judicial Watch uncovered documents detailing the deplorable financial condition of OneUnited at the time of the cash infusion. In fact, just prior to the bailout, OneUnited received a “less than satisfactory rating.”
Aside from OneUnited, there was yet another scandal with Waters’ fingerprints all over it.
According to The Washington Times: “A lobbyist known as one of California’s most successful power brokers while serving as a legislative leader in that state paid Rep. Maxine Waters’ husband $15,000 in consulting fees at a time she was co-sponsoring legislation that would help save the real-estate finance business of one of the lobbyist’s best-paying clients…”
“Real-estate finance businesses,” such as the one helped by Waters’ influence, were labeled a “scam” by the IRS in a 2006 report.
Despite all of her ethical woes, Maxine Waters seeks to take over the retiring Barney Frank’s position as the ranking Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee. It is quite obvious that Rep. Waters has neither the integrity nor the ethics necessary to hold such a position of public trust.
Rep. Don Young (R-AK): Rep. Don Young may have achieved a new level of corruption in 2011. The House Ethics Committee announced just before Christmas that the Alaska Republican Congressman was cleared of allegations by the House Ethics Committee that he exceeded the limit on campaign donations to his legal defense fund – which was set up to defend Young against an entirely different set of corruption charges! There was good reason the House Ethics Committee released this decision after most of official Washington left for the Christmas holiday: because the Committee’s “exoneration” is a joke.
House ethics rules prohibit contributions from any single source that exceed $5,000. Young received $63,000 from “twelve companies that…were in fact owned by Gary Chouest, his wife, and his five children, or some combination of those seven individuals.” Despite an independent analysis by the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) that the shell-game was a rather transparent violation of the contribution limit, the House Ethics Committee gave Young a free pass because the 12 companies controlled by essentially one individual were “separate legal entities!”
On July 24, 2007, the Wall Street Journal reported that Young was under federal investigation for taking bribes, illegal gratuities, and unreported gifts from VECO Corporation, an Anchorage, Alaska- based company. Two executives in the company, including former company CEO Bill Allen, had already pled guilty to bribing members of the Alaska legislature. Reportedly, Young received $157,000 from VECO.
Rep. Young has developed a legendary reputation for steering federal dollars to Alaska. As The New Republic put it, Rep. Young is “well known for his sharp elbows and generous appetite for legislative pork,” including the $223 million he secured to build the so-called “Bridge to Nowhere.” Eventually, lawmakers responded to the mounting criticism and the bridge was defunded.
Over the years, Rep. Young has been linked to lobbyist Jack Abramoff‘s illegal efforts to lease government property, and he has been criticized for adding a $10 million earmark to a transportation bill for a short piece of road in Florida near Fort Myers, called Coconut Road. The local real estate developer who owned 4,000 acres along the road helped raise $40,000 for Young’s campaign, which might go a long way toward explaining why the Alaska congressman aggressively pushed to build a road in Florida.
Former Senator John Edwards (D-NC): Former Senator John Edwards, who was the Democratic nominee for Vice President in 2004 and candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008, was indicted on June 3, 2011 by a grand jury in North Carolina on six felony charges, attributable – at least initially – to the cover-up of an extramarital affair with Rielle Hunter, who had been hired as a filmmaker for his campaign. After years of lies denying the relationship, Edwards finally admitted to the affair in the summer of 2008, but continued to claim until January 2010 that a child conceived out of wedlock, Frances Quinn Hunter, was not his child.
According to campaign aide Andrew Young, Edwards had pleaded with him to claim that he, Young, was the father and not Edwards. ABC news reported that Young stated in an interview that Edwards asked him to: “Get a doctor to fake the DNA results… and to steal a diaper from the baby so he could secretly do a DNA test to find out if this indeed his child.”
As is so often the case when politicians get involved with sexual shenanigans, it is the cover-up, not necessarily the transgression, which now has Edwards in legal hot water. John Edwards is alleged to have diverted campaign funds for his personal use to hide the affair.
On May 25, The New York Times reported that the DOJ had conducted a two-year investigation into the use of more than $925,000 in political donations to hide the affair. Edwards was indicted on June 3, 2011. Should Edwards be convicted, he could be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison and fined as much as $1.5 million. The trial date has been set for January 30, 2012.
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA): Another perennial member of JW’s list of Washington’s “Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians” will soon be saying goodbye to Congress.
Rep. Barney Frank blamed redistricting for his decision to leave office, but the congressional ethics investigation of the OneUnited Bank scandal also implicating California Rep. Maxine Waters must have helped make it easier for him to flee the capital. Both Frank and Waters improperly intervened to secure taxpayer TARP bailout money for the corruptly-run Massachusetts bank, earning them placements on the 2010 “Most Wanted” list.
When asked about the scandal, Frank admitted that he spoke to a “federal regulator” but, according to The Wall Street Journal, “he didn’t remember which federal regulator he spoke with.” That seemed a lie at the time, so Judicial Watch investigated. Sure enough, according to explosive Treasury Department emails uncovered by Judicial Watch in 2010, it appears this nameless bureaucrat was none other than then-Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson!
Frank will forever be tied to the implosion at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – and the resulting collapse of the housing market. Frank, a key member of Congress on the “take” from Fannie and Freddie, resisted any effort to subject the two Government Sponsored Enterprises to any effective oversight.
For example, during a hearing on September 10, 2003, before the House Committee on Financial Services considering a Bush administration proposal to further regulate Fannie and Freddie, Rep. Frank stated: “I want to begin by saying that I am glad to consider the legislation, but I do not think we are facing any kind of a crisis. That is, in my view, the two Government Sponsored Enterprises we are talking about here, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not in a crisis…I do not think at this point there is a problem with a threat to the Treasury.” Frank received $42,350 in campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between 1989 and 2008.
Frank’s corrupt behavior earned the attention of his congressional colleagues in 1990, when the House voted 408-18 to reprimand him for abusing his office to “fix” 33 parking tickets for Stephen Gobie, an acknowledged prostitute and former boyfriend of Barney Frank who had accumulated the tickets while driving Frank’s car. Frank wrote a memo intended to shorten probation for Gobie, who had been convicted of the sex and drug crimes of operating a gay prostitution ring out of the apartment he shared with Frank.
Frank also admitted in the book Reckless Endangerment that he helped yet another boyfriend gain a lucrative position with Fannie and Freddie, which is yet another abuse of office. When confronted on the controversy, Frank said, “If it is a [conflict of interest] then much of Washington is involved in .”
That might be the most factual statement Barney Frank has ever made.
Former House Speaker and Current Presidential Candidate Newt Gingrich: Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has a career plagued by scandal and corruption.
Perhaps most notably, on January 22, 1997, by a vote of 395 to 28, the House of Representatives voted to reprimand Speaker Gingrich for “intentional…or reckless” disregard for House rules and ordered him to pay an unprecedented penalty of $300,000 for ethical wrongdoing. It was the first time in the 208-year history of the House that such a step against a Speaker had been taken. (Gingrich had faced a raft of charges for alleged ethics violations during his tenure in the House.)
Following a scathing special counsel report to the House Ethics Committee detailing the charges against Gingrich, the former Speaker admitted to providing “inaccurate, incomplete and unreliable” statements to congressional investigators. In a written statement, Gingrich stated that his actions “brought down on the people’s house a controversy which could weaken the faith people have in their government.”
During the current presidential campaign, Gingrich has continuously misled the American people about how he, like many retired politicians, participated in DC’s lucrative influence-peddling industry.
Gingrich insinuated during one presidential debate that some members of Congress who took money from Fannie and Freddie should go to jail. And yet, over a span of eight years, according to Bloomberg News, The Gingrich Group was paid between $1.6 and $1.8 million by the home mortgage company. At the same time, Freddie Mac was engaged in massive fraud. Gingrich suggested he was a “historian” for Freddie Mac. But the evidence clearly shows he was “throwing his weight” behind the two Government Sponsored Enterprises to prop them up, saying in one interview that Fannie and Freddie provided a more “liquid and stable housing finance system than we would have” without them. Ironically, President Obama, the man who Gingrich is seeking to oust from office, is keeping secret each and every Freddie Mac (and Fannie Mae) document, including those that could shed light on Gingrich’s relationship with Freddie.
Gingrich also has claimed, “I have never done lobbying of any kind.” However, as documented by the Washington Examiner’s Timothy Carney, Gingrich was a hired gun for the drug lobby who “worked hard to persuade Republican congressmen to vote for the Medicare drug subsidy that the industry favored.” Carney reports that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America confirmed that they paid Gingrich. Bloomberg News “cited sources from leading drug companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer saying that those companies had also hired Gingrich.”
Gingrich has also sustained heavy criticism for his troubled personal life, including the admission by Gingrich that he cheated on his second wife while serving as Speaker of the House with then-House employee and current wife, Callista Bisek.
Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano: While Attorney General Eric Holder was busy attacking states seeking to protect themselves from uncontrolled illegal immigration in 2011, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano presided over a campaign to bypass Congress and provide amnesty to millions of illegal alien lawbreakers all in an obvious attempt to garner more Hispanic votes for Obama’s re-election.
At first, Napolitano’s campaign was begun in stealth. But in 2011 the Obama administration finally admitted that illegal alien amnesty is now the official policy of the United States of America, courtesy of Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS). According to The New York Times:
The Department of Homeland Security will begin a review on Thursday (November 17, 2011) of all deportation cases before the immigration courts and start a nationwide training program for enforcement agents and prosecuting lawyers, with the goal of speeding deportations of convicted criminals and halting those of many illegal immigrants with no criminal record.
Don’t believe for a second DHS’s line that criminal illegal aliens won’t find themselves “outside the department’s priorities.” This is an outright lie.
In 2011, Judicial Watch uncovered documents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) proving that immigration officials were urged to use “prosecutorial discretion” to dismiss deportation proceedings against a wide variety of illegal alien criminals – including those convicted of serious crimes such as sexual assault, solicitation of murder, aggravated assault, assaulting a police officer, and kidnapping, as well as numerous drug charges.
And to highlight the depth of this amnesty scheme, consider the case of Carlos Martinelly-Montano, the drunk-driving illegal immigrant from Bolivia who killed a Catholic nun and severely injured two others in Prince William County, Virginia, on August 1, 2010. Napolitano ordered an investigation into Montano’s background but initially refused to release the agency’s findings – until Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit. On March 3, 2011, Judicial Watch finally got hold of the “cleaned up” version of the Homeland Security report (after a lengthy back-and-forth with DHS.)
And what did Judicial Watch uncover? Montano should have been deported, but thanks to the illegal alien sanctuary policies of the federal government, local authorities and the courts, he was allowed back onto the streets.
Evidently, Janet Napolitano believes her agency may simply choose to ignore illegal immigration laws to help Obama get reelected. Moreover, the DHS seems more than willing to stonewall and obfuscate in order to conceal its questionable activities. As some key of members of Congress wrote Napolitano:
This new [backdoor amnesty] policy undermines the rule of law and intrudes on the role of Congress to make the law, while denigrating the role of the executive to carry out the laws enacted by Congress.
Napolitano’s attempt to rewrite immigration law on her own is an affront to constitutional government.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA): Despite the media firestorm over her military travel abuses ignited by a Judicial Watch investigation, Nancy Pelosi continued to use the United States Air Force as her own personal travel agency right up until her final days as House Speaker according to documents Judicial Watch uncovered from the Air Force in 2011.
Pelosi used Air Force aircraft for 43 flights from January 1 to October 1, 2010. By comparison, Nancy Pelosi logged 47 flights in the previous nine-month period, April 1, 2009, to January 1, 2010, according to previous documents uncovered by Judicial Watch. In other words, she did not back off at all from her pattern of abuse.
In fact, these documents show Pelosi not only receiving special treatment on military flights (chocolate covered strawberries for her birthday, for example), but also ferrying her family back and forth on military aircraft, including her husband, daughter, granddaughters and son-in-law. (The following is a link to records detailing one such flight with her daughter Christina.)
Pelosi was also caught up in the insider trading scandal that exploded into the news in November 2011 courtesy of author Peter Schweizer and his book, Throw Them All Out.
As detailed by Bloomberg, “Pelosi and her husband, Paul, with a net worth estimated at $40 million, bought shares in the initial public offering of credit-card company Visa Inc. in 2008, when Pelosi was speaker of the House… They bought the shares just before legislation died that would have limited the fees credit-card issuers could charge retailers. The shares more than doubled in the next two months.”
Pelosi has also invited San Francisco investment banker William Hambrecht to serve as an expert at economic forums on Capitol Hill on multiple occasions, even speaking to reporters by his side at the U.S. Capitol, without disclosing the fact that Hambrecht is her son’s boss and her husband Paul’s business partner. One of the business deals struck by Paul Pelosi and Hambrecht yielded more than $100,000 in income for the Pelosi family in 2010.
While serving as Speaker of the House, Pelosi repeatedly overlooked corruption by her fellow partisans. The evidence suggests this “ethics blind spot” extends too frequently to her own activities. Pelosi’s penchant for abusing the perks of her office is reprehensible.
Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY): One year after the House of Representatives voted 333-79 to “censure” Rep. Charles Rangel for serious incidents of corruption, Rangel remains in Congress. And, in fact, the very colleagues who shamed him in the well of Congress for his ethics violations, including Rep. Nancy Pelosi, now stand by his side.
What does this prove? That Rangel did not receive proper punishment for the 13 violations articulated in the House Ethics Committee report, including the following allegations:
- Forgetting to pay taxes on $75,000 in rental income he earned from his off-shore rental property. (Rangel was formerly in charge of the committee responsible for writing tax policy.)
- Misusing his congressional office, staff and resources to raise money for his private Rangel Center for Public Service, to be housed at the City College of New York. (He also put the squeeze on donors who had business before his House Ways and Means Committee, and used the congressional “free mail” privilege to solicit funds.)
- Misusing his residentially-zoned Harlem apartment as a campaign headquarters.
- Failing to report $600,000 in income on his official congressional financial disclosure reports, which contained “numerous errors and omissions.”
And these are just the ethics violations under the Ethics Committee’s microscope. The Committee did not even consider other serious corruption charges against Rangel. For example, it has been alleged that Rangel preserved a tax loophole for an oil company in exchange for a Rangel Center donation and used improper influence to maintain ownership of his highly coveted rent-controlled apartment – the same apartment he improperly used for campaign activities.
Rangel should have been expelled from the House of Representatives a year ago. Instead he remains in power and on Judicial Watch’s “Most Wanted” list as a “Dishonorable Mention.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: What did Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius discuss during all of those secret Obamacare meetings she held with Vice President Biden and Big Labor leaders? Obamacare waivers would be an excellent guess.
In September 2011, HHS announced an arbitrary cut-off to waiver applications, which had skyrocketed to 1,472 unions and companies seeking to get out from underneath the Obama administration’s healthcare overhaul. At the time of the cut-off, approximately 50% of the waivers granted covered employees of unions, even though union workers represent about 12% of the total workforce!
From the beginning, HHS has kept these waivers shrouded in secrecy. Judicial Watch filed a lawsuit against HHS on December 30, 2010, and yet the agency refuses to explain to the American people how decisions were made regarding which organizations received or did not receive a waiver.
While HHS was disproportionately doling out waivers to unions, Judicial Watch also obtained documents from HHS that provide new details on a massive, taxpayer-funded, multimedia campaign designed to promote Obamacare. The total cost of this campaign, which notably targets Obama’s electoral coalition, could reach as much as $200 million over the next five years.
And this is how HHS describes the key to success for this campaign: “Health and program-related messages are processed by the target audience according to a particular reality, which he or she experiences. Attitudes, feelings, values, needs, desires, behaviors and beliefs all play a part in the individual’s decision to accept information and make a behavioral change.” In other words, the Obama administration is paying hired guns a lot of your money to manipulate American taxpayers into “accepting” the Obama way and “changing” their behavior.
This is certainly what HHS was trying to do with a series of three Medicare television advertisements featuring actor Andy Griffith. As Judicial Watch uncovered through FOIA, the Obama administration spent $3,184,000 in taxpayer funds to produce and air the advertisements on national television in September and October of 2010. According to FactCheck.org, a project of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, the advertisements intentionally misinformed the American people.
And then there’s healthcare rationing. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare (CMS), which is under the auspices of HHS, proposed that Provenge, a Food and Drug Administration-approved treatment for prostate cancer, be placed under a controversial “review”. After enormous public scrutiny, CMS relented and recommended the potentially lifesaving drug be covered by insurance. According to a Judicial Watch investigation, while the Obama administration claimed the cost of Provenge had nothing to do with their review process, records obtained by JW suggest otherwise. (Medicare, the FDA, and private companies are legally prohibited from denying approval of a medical treatment based solely on cost.)
And then there is Sebelius’s war on the Catholic Church and other “conservative” religious organizations. Sebelius’s HHS has written Obamacare regulations to punish long-held religious views that don’t comport with liberal ideology, and would force hundreds of religious institutions to drop insurance coverage or risk running afoul of Sebelius’s pro-abortion Obamacare regulatory scheme.
The constitutionality of Obamacare may ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. But in the meantime, Kathleen Sebelius has turned HHS into a political machine, using underhanded tactics to stack the deck in favor of Obamacare, while greasing Big Labor and other Obama political campaign allies.
As we head into the new year, I just want to thank you for all you do to support Judicial Watch. Certainly, as demonstrated by this year’s Top Ten list, we face a stiff challenge in our campaign to clean up the pervasive corruption in Washington. But together we achieved some significant victories in 2011. And I look forward to working with you to build on these successes in the coming year.
A Happy New Year to you and yours.
Until next week…
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life.