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Fifteen seats have some connection to scandal

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Will Corruption Cost the GOP Congress?

Fifteen seats have some connection to scandal

With just days to go before the midterm elections, the Washington Post noted last week that at least 15 Republican House seats are in jeopardy because of the issue of congressional corruption alone:  “Four GOP House seats have been tarred by lobbyist Jack Abramoff’s influence-peddling scandal. Five have been adversely affected by then-Rep. Mark Foley’s unseemly contacts with teenage male House pages. The remaining half a dozen or so could turn on controversies including offshore tax dodging, sexual misconduct and shady land deals,” the Post reported.
 
The 1994 “revolution” that swept Republicans into power in the first place was caused, in part, by a decade of congressional scandals on the Democrats’ watch. House Speaker Jim Wright (D.-Tex.), under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for obtaining bogus book royalties, was forced to resign in shame. So too was House Majority Whip Tony Coelho (D.-Calif.) for his alleged participation in a junk bond scheme. And then there was the “check kiting scandal” which resulted in an 18-month prison sentence for Rep. Dan Rostenkowski (D.-Ill.).
 
“Throw the bums out!” was the rallying cry of voters in 1994.
 
As the levers of power in Congress were changing hands, Bill Clinton was two years into the most corrupt presidency in our nation’s history. We warned Democrats back then that Clinton’s behavior was not only corrupt, but bad for the long-term fortunes of their party. They continued to defend him anyway and lost the presidency.
 
The bottom line: In 1993 Democrats ran the House, the Senate and the White House. By 2000, they had lost it all due to their addiction to corruption. Republicans didn’t learn from Democratic mistakes and countenanced corruption in their ranks. Now they face the prospect of losing one or both houses of Congress on Tuesday.
 
The liberal media, of course, is attempting to portray congressional corruption as a “Republican-only problem.”  This is nonsense. Democratic Representatives William Jefferson and John Conyers, along with Democratic Senators Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton (to name a few) have much for which to answer. A few corrupt office holders may lose their seats this year, but many more—from both parties—will be reelected or continue to serve.
 
Neither party corners the market on corruption so I don’t think the culture of corruption here in DC will change with a new party gaining control of Congress. That’s why Judicial Watch will continue to serve as a watchdog against corrupt politicians.
 
NSA Wiretapping Case Ruling ‘Hasty and Injudicious’
 
Recently, Judicial Watch filed an amicus curiae brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit in the National Security Agency wiretapping case, stating that Judge Anna Diggs Taylor’s ruling was “hasty and injudicious” (ACLU et. al v. National Security Agency). As you may recall, the government initiated the “Terrorist Surveillance Program” to monitor conversations of individuals suspected of being involved with al Qaeda. Judge Diggs Taylor ruled the program unconstitutional on August 16. Here’s an excerpt from our brief, filed on October 24:
 
“[The District Court] attempted to decide … very important constitutional questions without the benefit of anything approaching a well-developed factual record, conflated the plantiffs’ alleged First and Fourth Amendment injuries, and disregarded well-established precedent and ordinary rules of procedure. The result was not only the hasty and injudicious entry of a permanent injunction against an ongoing foreign intelligence gathering operation during a time of war, but also the patently flawed entry of summary judgment against the government.”
 
Judicial Watch’s legal argument focused on the fact that none of the plaintiffs in the case had “standing” to bring the lawsuit. In other words, they could not prove that their conversations were ever actually monitored by the government. The “injuries” they claimed, therefore, were merely speculative and could not properly be considered by the court.
 
The court stretched to find standing so it could have jurisdiction to rule against the program. This smacks of results-oriented jurisprudence and is one of the reasons the lower court’s decision was so roundly criticized.
 
One would think, given the enormous importance of this lawsuit, and the amount of attention it received, that Judge Diggs Taylor would have been more careful. This is too serious and too important an issue to have been handled so irresponsibly. Obviously, we believe the appellate court should vacate the decision.
 
As I’m sure you remember, in August, Judicial Watch discovered a potential conflict of interest on the part of Judge Anna Diggs Taylor related to this very lawsuit. The judge serves as a Secretary and Trustee for a foundation that donated funds to the ACLU of Michigan, a plaintiff in the case. Judicial Watch discovered the potential conflict of interest after reviewing Judge Diggs Taylor’s financial disclosure statements, leading to a barrage of press coverage.
 
Next up, the Sixth Circuit hears oral argument sometime soon and then a ruling. Stay tuned.

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Written By

Mr. Fitton is the president of Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law.

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