Den Of Thieves

“It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native criminal class except Congress.” —Mark Twain

“Being elected to Congress is regarded as being sent on a looting raid for one’s friends.”—George Will

Someone, most likely a Congressman or one of his victims, once observed that you can steal more money with a pen than you can with a pistol—after all, no one is more adept at larceny than the bi-partisan grifters working Capitol Hill.  Washington Post reporters David S. Fallis, Scott Higham, Kimberly Kindy and researcher Bobbye Pratt followed the trail of the boodle, comparing 10 years worth of Congressional financial disclosure forms with public records

[…] The resulting snapshot was then matched to earmarks and other spending provisions members sought for pet projects. The process uncovered nearly 50 members who helped direct millions of dollars in earmarks to projects that either held the potential to enhance the surroundings of a lawmaker’s own property, or aided entities connected to their immediate family. Lawmakers said their earmarks and spending provisions were done to benefit the public, not their private interests.

And if you believe that last bit, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn I’d like to sell you.  A half-dozen of the notables:

Sen. James M. Inhofe (R – Okla.) Senator Inhofe has grabbed about $1.8 million  to study the widening of a road near a commercial property in Tulsa co-owned by Mrs. Imhofe. A spokesman for the senator insisted that local officials requested the funding and that the roadwork “is a highly beneficial project that will create new jobs and do much to strengthen Oklahoma’s economy.”

Rep. Darrell Issa (R – Calif.) Rep. Issa appropriated $815,000 between 2007 and 2009 to widen a road near a medical building in California that Issa had purchased for $16.6 million in 2008. “Rep. Issa’s request for the widening project was made on behalf of local leaders and predated his purchase of the medical center building,” a spokesman said.”

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D – Tex.) The charming Mrs. Jackson-Lee grabbed approx-imately $5.3 million for the University of Houston in 2009 and 2010. Her husband, Dr. Elwyn Lee, was coincidentally vice president of student affairs and vice chancellor of student affairs for the university at the time. Jackson-Lee would not respond to WaPo’s requests for comment.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R – Alaska) Murkowski earmarked $6.9 million between 2005 and 2009 for road improvements that began, strangely enough, near a property she had purchased from a friend and real estate developer at a reduced price. Murkowski said through a spokesman that she had  the support of local and state officials. “All my efforts and actions were proper on this project.”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.) San Fran Nan funneled $50 million toward a light-rail project providing direct access to San Francisco’s Union Square and Chinatown for neighborhoods south of Market Street. Pelosi’s husband owns a four-story commercial building nearby. A spokesman for Pelosi said the project was requested by community leaders…

Rep. Bennie Thompson (D – Miss.) Thompson used $900,000 in earmarks to repave roads in Hind County, Mississippi, one of which coincidentally is where Bennie and his daughter own homes. “I didn’t say, “Do the street that I live on,” Thompson said. “The earmark went to the county…”

Congressional flim-flammers have ensured that following the money is a diffficult and tedious business:

[…] For instance, they are not required to disclose the location or value of their personal residences or of properties that do not generate income. They are not required to disclose the addresses of properties held in partnerships, limited-liability companies and corporations.

Lawmakers are also not required to list the employment of their children or parents, or the work titles, job descriptions or salaries of their spouses. Forms are submitted on paper and cannot be electronically searched.

Embezzlement is a legal term for the illegal appropriation of funds or other items of value. In the legislature, this is referred to as an “earmark.”

Can anybody say, “Term limits?”


About Bob Mack

Retired since 2003. Military Service: U.S. Army, 36th Artillery Group, Babenhausen, Germany 1966-67; 1st Signal Brigade, Republic of Vietnam, 1967-68 Attended University of Miami, 1969-73
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14 Responses to Den Of Thieves

  1. This is outrageous. I don’t understand why these officials aren’t required to disclose the locations/values of their properties, partnerships and corporations. Just another figurative cog in the machine driving the rich towards getting richer. Where is the so-called transparency in government?

  2. boudicabpi says:

    Reblogged this on Boudica BPI Weblog and commented:
    Neither party has a monopoly on this.
    Bob A.

  3. Probably the greatest error made by the Founders was to leave the door open politics becoming a career. I would have liked to have seen the constitution limit service to one six year term in any of the branches of government.

    • Bob Mack says:

      I agree … and even six years might be six too many.

    • AFVET says:

      I have always felt that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
      After FDR ran this country into the ground due to his fiscal policies, congress passed the 22nd Amendment, limiting the president to two terms.
      I think the same rule should apply to congress and the Supreme Court.
      Lifetime appointments in the supreme court are ridiculous.
      RBG is a recent example.
      It is obvious to me that she is no longer qualified to represent the United States.

  4. Bob Mack says:

    According to the Washington Examiner,

    43 percent of likely voters believing that a random name pulled from the White Pages would be better than the gang they’ve installed in Congress.

    On the other hand, these are the same likely voters that installed Barack Obama in the Oval Office.

  5. cosmoscon says:

    100 years ago we would’ve stormed DC and drug these people out into the street.

    • Bob Mack says:

      Tarred & feathered, COS, then run out of town on a rail.

    • AFVET says:

      We can’t do that now,….but we can vote them back into the private sector they have created for us.
      One of the Founding Fathers stated, and I paraphrase, to congress, “Never vote a rod against yourself.”
      Nowadays, the members of congress never live under the laws that they create until they’re multimillionaires, and are essentially immune from the onerous regulations we have had to live under while they are accumulating the massive retirement benefits that they will ride until they die.
      They have exempted themselves from the mundane minions that pay for their extravagances.
      As far as term limits go, how dare the peons even think of restricting our rule to term
      limits !
      Term limits are needed, good luck on getting them passed in congress.
      Vote the suckers out.

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