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Friday, December 28, 2007

Judicial Watch's Top Ten Most Corrupt Politicians

Hat tip to Weekly Standard which after reading it led me to the Judicial Watch's article naming the "Ten Most Wanted Corrupt Politicians" for 2007.

The list mentions Hillary Clinton (D-NY), John Conyers (D-MI), Larry Craig (R-ID), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), Rudy Giuliani (R-NY), Mike Huckabee (R-AR), I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, (D-IL) Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Harry Reid (D-NV).

Judicial Watch is a conservative, non partisan educational foundation that promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in Government, politics and law. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations and public outreach.

Overall, Judicial Watch spokespersons have made hundreds of appearances on virtually every major news network, and have participated in hundreds of interviews on radio stations nationwide. Judicial Watch investigations and legal actions have been covered in every major print publication.

Although they call themselves conservative, as you can see from the list above, they go after both Republican and Democratic politicians with equal intensity if they see corruption, to hold them accountable.

Number one on their list this year is Hillary Clinton:

In addition to her long and sordid ethics record, Senator Hillary Clinton took a lot of heat in 2007 – and rightly so – for blocking the release her official White House records. Many suspect these records contain a treasure trove of information related to her role in a number of serious Clinton-era scandals. Moreover, in March 2007, Judicial Watch filed an ethics complaint against Senator Clinton for filing false financial disclosure forms with the U.S. Senate (again). And Hillary’s top campaign contributor, Norman Hsu, was exposed as a felon and a fugitive from justice in 2007. Hsu pleaded guilt to one count of grand theft for defrauding investors as part of a multi-million dollar Ponzi scheme.

The portions in bold above, I am providing links to the news articles (which Judicial Watch did not provide, relating to those claims.

Ethics Complaint about financial disclosures:

According to the Washington Post, Hillary and Bill Clinton both run the family charity since 2001 and she has failed to report it in her Senate financial disclosures on five occasions.

The Ethics in Government Act requires members of Congress to disclose positions they hold with any outside entity, including nonprofit foundations. Hillary Clinton has served her family foundation as treasurer and secretary since it was established in December 2001, but none of her ethics reports since then have disclosed that fact.

The foundation has enabled the Clintons to write off more than $5 million from their taxable personal income since 2001, while dispensing $1.25 million in charitable contributions over that period.

Clinton's spokesman claims the failure to list this was an "oversight".

Norman Hsu:

Mr. Hsu was one of the top Clinton "bundlers" (gathers contributions and sends them to the campaign).

In late August, Norman Hsu came to everyones attention in connection with the Paw family, who donated $45,000 to the Hillary Clinton campaign, where reporters dug up the fact that their residence was also used by Norman Hsu as a home address, according to public records.

From there reports came in showing that Norman Hsu was a fugitive from the law for 15 yrs, which prompted politicians to start returning his contributions in an attempt to distance themselves from him.

On December 4, 2007 it was reported that Norman Hsu was indicted from a federal grand jury for cheating investors out of $20 million in a ponzi scheme as well as violating campaign finance laws.

You can read his full indictment here.

Next on Judicial Watch's list is John Conyers:

Conyers reportedly repeatedly violated the law and House ethics rules, forcing his staff to serve as his personal servants, babysitters, valets and campaign workers while on the government payroll. While the House Ethics Committee investigated these allegations in 2006, and substantiated a number of the accusations against Conyers, the committee blamed the staff and required additional administrative record-keeping and employee training. Judicial Watch obtained documentation in 2007 from a former Conyers staffer that sheds new light on the activities and conduct on the part of the Michigan congressman, which appear to be at a minimum inappropriate and likely unlawful. Judicial Watch called on the Attorney General in 2007 to investigate the matter.

In 2004 complaints were filed against Conyers which caused an informal investigation which suddenly stopped and was reopened in 2006, for the reasons listed above, but the Ethics Committe closed the investigation, simply making him agree to "clarify work rules with his staff to ensure his office complies with ethics regulations."

Third on Judicial Watch's list is Larry Craig:

In one of the most shocking scandals of 2007, Senator Craig was caught by police attempting to solicit sex in a Minneapolis International Airport men’s bathroom during the summer. Senator Craig reportedly “sent signals” to a police officer in an adjacent stall that he wanted to engage in sexual activity. When the police officer showed Craig his police identification under the bathroom stall divider and pointed toward the exit, the senator reportedly exclaimed 'No!'” When asked to produce identification, Craig presented police his U.S. Senate business card and said, “What do you think of that?” The power play didn’t work. Craig was arrested, charged and entered a guilty plea. Despite enormous pressure from his Republican colleagues to resign from the Senate, Craig refused.

At the end of August, reports hit the news of Larry Craig pleading guilty to disorderly conduct, which resulted in him resigning from Mitt Romney's campaign, announcing his own resignation, then changing his mind, because of an arrest for allegedly making sexual advances in a mens room at a Minneapolis airport.

Sgt. Dave Karsnia stated in the police report "At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area."

The Idaho Statesman wrote an article with the results of a five month investigation, which can be found here.

Fox has also provided the PDF of the full police report on Craig's arrest.

Fourth on Judicial Watch's list is Dianne Feinstein:

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee's subcommittee on military construction, Feinstein reviewed military construction government contracts, some of which were ultimately awarded to URS Corporation and Perini, companies then owned by Feinstein's husband, Richard Blum. While the Pentagon ultimately awards military contracts, there is a reason for the review process. The Senate's subcommittee on Military Construction's approval carries weight. Sen. Feinstein, therefore, likely had influence over the decision making process. Senator Feinstein also attempted to undermine ethics reform in 2007, arguing in favor of a perk that allows members of Congress to book multiple airline flights and then cancel them without financial penalty. Judicial Watch’s investigation into this matter is ongoing.

The San Francisco Chronicle did an in depth article into this situation, in 2003, discussing how Feinstein's spouse, Blum, did benefit from military related contracts.

In January of 2007, MetroActive weighed in with some more relevant information about Feinstein, Blum and her position on the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee where she was voting for contracts that benefited her husbands companies.

As chairperson and ranking member of the Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee (MILCON) from 2001 through the end of 2005, Feinstein supervised the appropriation of billions of dollars a year for specific military construction projects. Two defense contractors whose interests were largely controlled by her husband, financier Richard C. Blum, benefited from decisions made by Feinstein as leader of this powerful subcommittee.

She lobbied Pentagon officials in public hearings to support defense projects that she favored, some of which already were or subsequently became URS or Perini contracts. From 2001 to 2005, URS earned $792 million from military construction and environmental cleanup projects approved by MILCON; Perini earned $759 million from such MILCON projects.

That appears to be a serious conflict of interest and in March of 2007, after MetroActive's exposé, Dianne Feinstein resigned as chair of a powerful military construction committee after reports that for years she abused her position to award her husband's companies billions of dollars in government contracts.

Number 5 on Judicial Watch's top ten list is Rudy Giuliani:

Giuliani came under fire in late 2007 after it was discovered the former New York mayor’s office “billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons…” ABC News also reported that Giuliani provided Nathan with a police vehicle and a city driver at taxpayer expense. All of this news came on the heels of the federal indictment on corruption charges of Giuliani’s former Police Chief and business partner Bernard Kerik, who pleaded guilty in 2006 to accepting a $165,000 bribe in the form of renovations to his Bronx apartment from a construction company attempting to land city contracts.

Billing obscure agencies:

In November of 2007 reports came to light that Rudy Giuliani had previously billed "obscure" agencies tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses while starting his affair with Judith Nathan, via The Politico and

Under New York's Freedom of Information Law, The Politico was able to obtain documents showing "that the mayoral costs had nothing to do with the functions of the little-known city offices that defrayed his tabs, including agencies responsible for regulating loft apartments, aiding the disabled and providing lawyers for indigent defendants."

The Politico had also obtained American Express bills, and a letter written by
City Comptroller William Thompson wrote of the expenses from fiscal year 2000, which covers parts of 1999 and 2000.

Police Vehicle provided to Judith Nathan:

ABC's The Blotter first reported that Rudy Giuliani provided a police driver and city car for his mistress Judith Nathan and that she used the Police Department as her "personal taxi service".

Giuliani did not answer questions asked of him by the Daily News about that.

Bernard Kerik corruption charges:

November 10, 2007, Washington Post reported that Bernard Kerik was indicted on corruption charges which he plead not guilty to.

Here is the PDF for Kerik's indictment.

Number six on Judicial Watch's top ten corrupt politicians is Mike Huckabee:

Governor Huckabee enjoyed a meteoric rise in the polls in December 2007, which prompted a more thorough review of his ethics record. According to The Associated Press: “[Huckabee’s] career has also been colored by 14 ethics complaints and a volley of questions about his integrity, ranging from his management of campaign cash to his use of a nonprofit organization to subsidize his income to his destruction of state computer files on his way out of the governor’s office.” And what was Governor Huckabee’s response to these ethics allegations? Rather than cooperating with investigators, Huckabee sued the state ethics commission twice and attempted to shut the ethics process down.

Some of those ethics complaints were highlighted by many media organizations, one of which was MSNBC and another The Politico.

The ethics commission fined Huckabee $1,000 for failing to report that he paid himself $14,000 from his 1992 U.S. Senate campaign and $43,000 from his 1994 lieutenant governor's campaign.

Huckabee also failed to disclose $23,500 he received from a nonprofit organization set up to handle his speaking engagements.

According to Huckabee’s disclosure reports, he accepted more than 300 gifts worth at least $130,000, ranging from $3,700 cowboy boots to a $600 chainsaw and $250 worth of dental care.

Those are just a small sample of some of the ethics complaints listed against Huckabee.

Other complaints involve Action America, more undisclosed gifts, his Governors Mansion, his wedding registry, and computer drivers.

Number seven on the Judicial Watch's list was Scooter Libby and considering the news influx that surrounded his trial, I think that one is self explanatory.

Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dick Cheney, was sentenced to 30 months in prison and fined $250,000 for lying and obstructing the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation. Libby was found guilty of four felonies -- two counts of perjury, one count of making false statements to the FBI and one count of obstructing justice – all serious crimes. Unfortunately, Libby was largely let off the hook. In an appalling lack of judgment, President Bush issued “Executive Clemency” to Libby and commuted the sentence.

Number eight on Judicial Watch's corrupt politicians list is Barack Obama:

In 2006, it was discovered that Obama was involved in a suspicious real estate deal with an indicted political fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko. In 2007, more reports surfaced of deeper and suspicious business and political connections It was reported that just two months after he joined the Senate, Obama purchased $50,000 worth of stock in speculative companies whose major investors were his biggest campaign contributors. One of the companies was a biotech concern that benefited from legislation Obama pushed just two weeks after the senator purchased $5,000 of the company’s shares. Obama was also nabbed conducting campaign business in his Senate office, a violation of federal law.

Antoin Rezko:

According to the New York Times, Antoin Rezko's company was one of the first campaign donors to Barack Obama as well as holding fund-raisers and rallying support for Obama.

After Rezko was indicted on federal charges of business fraud and influence peddling involving the administration of Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich of Illinois,Barack Obama has given over $21,000 to charity from Rezko's donations from Rezko associates. He also gave away $11,500 from Mr. Rezko himself last fall.

Also reported by the New York Times:

Records show that when Mr. Obama needed cash in the waning days of his losing 2000 Congressional campaign, Mr. Rezko rounded up thousands of dollars from business contacts. In 2003, Mr. Rezko helped Mr. Obama expand his fund-raising for the Senate primary by being host of a dinner at his Mediterranean-style home for 150 people, including some whose names have since come up in the influence scandal.

And when Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, bought a house in 2005, Mr. Rezko stepped in again. Even though his finances were deteriorating, Mr. Rezko arranged for his wife to buy an adjacent lot, and she later sold the Obamas a 10-foot-wide strip of land that expanded their yard.

The land sale occurred after it had been reported that Mr. Rezko was under federal investigation. That awkward fact prompted Mr. Obama, who has cast himself as largely free from the normal influences of politics, to express regret over what he called his own bad judgment.

$50,000 worth of stock:

In another New York Times article it was reported that Obama bought more than $50,000 worth of stock in two speculative companies whose major investors included some of his biggest political donors.

One of the companies was a biotech concern that was starting to develop a drug to treat avian flu. In March 2005, two weeks after buying about $5,000 of its shares, Mr. Obama took the lead in a legislative push for more federal spending to battle the disease.

He also bought $50,000 woth of stock in a satellite communications business whose backers include four friends and donors of Obama's and they had raised over $150,000 for his political committees.

Obama's spokesperson claims that his broker had purchased the stocks without consulting Obama.

Number nine of Judicial Watch's list is Nancy Pelosi:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who promised a new era of ethics enforcement in the House of Representatives, snuck a $25 million gift to her husband, Paul Pelosi, in a $15 billion Water Resources Development Act recently passed by Congress. The pet project involved renovating ports in Speaker Pelosi's home base of San Francisco. Pelosi just happens to own apartment buildings near the areas targeted for improvement, and will almost certainly experience a significant boost in property value as a result of Pelosi's earmark. Earlier in the year, Pelosi found herself in hot water for demanding access to a luxury Air Force jet to ferry the Speaker and her entourage back and forth from San Francisco non-stop, in unprecedented request which was wisely rejected by the Pentagon. And under Pelosi’s leadership, the House ethics process remains essentially shut down – which protects members in both parties from accountability.

Everyone remembers Nancy Pelosi's "drain the swamp" comment when she promised to end corruption in Washington, so lets move to the $25 million gift to her husband, which was reported, in May, from the National Ledger and other media sources.

The earmark Pelosi inserted and voted for was a project involving "renovating ports in Speaker Pelosi’s home base of San Francisco. Paul Pelosi just happens to own apartment buildings near the areas targeted for improvement, and will almost certainly experience a significant boost in property value as a result of Pelosi’s earmark."

Last but not least we come to the last name on the Judicial Watch's list, Harry Reid.

Over the last few years, Reid has been embroiled in a series of scandals that cast serious doubt on his credibility as a self-professed champion of government ethics, and 2007 was no different. According to The Los Angeles Times, over the last four years, Reid has used his influence in Washington to help a developer, Havey Whittemore, clear obstacles for a profitable real estate deal. As the project advanced, the Times reported, “Reid received tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Whittemore.” Whittemore also hired one of Reid’s sons (Leif) as his personal lawyer and then promptly handed the junior Reid the responsibility of negotiating the real estate deal with federal officials. Leif Reid even called his father’s office to talk about how to obtain the proper EPA permits, a clear conflict of interest.

Nevada land deal:

The Associated Press broke this story back in back in 2006 with extensive research into the Nevada Land deal that brought Reid $1.1 million dollars, where he did not disclose to Congress an earlier sale in which he transferred his land to a company created by a friend and took a financial stake in that company.

Land deeds obtained by The Associated Press during a review of Reid's business dealings show:

The deal began in 1998 when Reid bought undeveloped residential property on Las Vegas' booming outskirts for about $400,000. Reid bought one lot outright, and a second parcel jointly with Brown. One of the sellers was a developer who was benefiting from a government land swap that Reid supported. The seller never talked to Reid.

In 2001, Reid sold the land for the same price to a limited liability corporation created by Brown. The senator didn't disclose the sale on his annual public ethics report or tell Congress he had any stake in Brown's company. He continued to report to Congress that he personally owned the land.

After getting local officials to rezone the property for a shopping center, Brown's company sold the land in 2004 to other developers and Reid took $1.1 million of the proceeds, nearly tripling the senator's investment. Reid reported it to Congress as a personal land sale.

The whole AP story can be found at Breitbart.

Judicial Watch doesn't even get into the Reid/Abramoff connection and when dealing with corruption and politicians, that is one area which there is enough documentation that it should have been included but perhaps wasn't because investigations are still ongoing.