'Culture of Corruption' Backfires Again

How are the Democrats ever going to gain any traction with their “culture of corruption” message if they’re unable to keep from embarrassing themselves?

Up until now, the Democrats’ problems were limited to a few rotten apples in the House. Representatives William Jefferson (D.-La.), Cynthia McKinney (D.-Ga.) and Alan Mollohan (D.-W.Va.) all had their share of problems, but none rose to the level of being a household name.

That’s about to change. With the news that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D.-Nev.) was bought off with front-row tickets to a boxing match (see photo below) by the gaming industry, Democrats are left with no choice but to drop the issue that they made a centerpiece of their campaign to oust Republicans from controlling Congress.

Here’s the AP’s report:

Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.

Reid, of Nevada, took the free seats for Las Vegas fights from 2003 to 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada‘s agency feared might usurp its authority.

A quick scan of LexisNexis news stories using the term “culture of corruption” shows a significant drop from January, when Democrats (including Reid) began their Republicans-have-no-ethics campaign.

  • January: 1,204
  • February: 465
  • March: 321
  • April: 562
  • May: 502

And what should be most alarming for Democrats is the use of the terms in stories about members of their party. The Associated Press, for instance, cited Reid’s use of the term attacking Republicans with connections to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. However, in the same story, the AP outlines the suspect relationship Reid enjoyed with Abramoff:

Reid had separate meetings in June 2003 in his Senate offices with two Abramoff tribal clients and Edward Ayoob, a former staffer who went to work lobbying with Abramoff.

The meetings occurred over a five-day span in which Ayoob also threw a fund-raiser for Reid at the firm where Ayoob and Abramoff worked that netted numerous donations from Abramoff’s partners, firm, and clients.

Senate ethics rules make clear the problems of such a relationship. But for Harry Reid, what do ethics matter? After all, as long as it makes a good talking point to bash the GOP, maybe no one will notice the hypocrisy, right? That’s starting to change.