One particularly bothersome phenomenon are stories of elected officials being investigated for lining their own pockets. They seem to be surfacing with alarming frequency.
It's no wonder that both the executive branch and house seem to have one thing in common - ever decreasing public support.
The most recent event in this seemingly never-ending chain of disappointing stories is the raid on Senator Ted Stevens' Alaska retreat.
Dan Joling of the AP is reporting:
Federal agents with cameras searched the home of U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens amid questions about an oil company official's involvement in a 2000 renovation project that doubled the home's size, law enforcement officials said.
Stevens, 83, is under a federal investigation for his connections to Bill Allen, founder of VECO Corp., an Alaska-based oil field services and engineering company that has reaped tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts.
Allen was convicted earlier this year of bribing state lawmakers. He also oversaw the renovation of Stevens' home in the ski resort community of Girdwood, contractors involved in the work say.
This seems to be part of a larger investigation:
The Justice Department's probe into Allen's relationships has led to charges against state lawmakers and contractors. Last year, FBI raids on the offices of several Alaska lawmakers included Stevens' son, former Alaska Senate President Ben Stevens.The AP Story also states that Alaska's only U.S. representative, Don Young, is also under investigation. This cannot be confirmed because the source was anonymous.
Neither the U.S. senator nor his son has been charged.
The AFP version of the story (courtesy of Yahoo News)cited unnamed sources as saying:
The investigations have prompted calls for ethics reform in Congress and damaged President George W. Bush's Republican party. Some party members blamed the corruption cases for helping hand their Democratic rivals control of Congress in legislative elections last year.I found this an interesting statement because Republicans don't seem to be the only ones getting accused of lining their own pockets by using their political influence.
Let's not forget Rep. William Jefferson, D-La. has been indicted on federal charges of racketeering, money-laundering and soliciting. The investigation against Jefferson suggested ties to a foreign political figure, Abubakar Atiku (former Vice President of Nigeria).
Atiku was still in office, when the scandal made headlines. Interestingly enough, the connection between him and Jefferson seemed to be ignored by the Western press, however it was covered extensively in Nigeria and elsewhere in Africa.
Wikipedia has an interesting article tracking charges of corruption involving political figures. If you look at their document and note the amount of incidents since 1990, the problem seems to be growing.
Wikipedia article, here.
Of course, there was political corruption around before 1990, also. Maybe, the trend started earlier with the Abscam investigation in 1980?
Here is a FBI video of Jack Murtha dealing with a undercover FBI agent in the infamous Abscam investigation.
It's a sad commentary that so many of our leaders seem to be getting caught, or accused of being corrupt. Maybe this is one of the reasons that politicians seem to be losing the popular support of the people, they are supposed to be serving.
Whether this is all dirty politics, outright corruption, or a mixture of both -- it does little to bolster public confidence in our leaders.
After all, these are people, we (and our children) are supposed to look up to.
AP Story, here.