12.21.2005

Are all congressmen this slimy?

I just read this piece by Larry Margasak and Sharon Theimer on the Seattle Times website, and can't tell you how mad I am. The story is about a Texas congressman and how he was corrupted:
As Tom DeLay became a king of campaign fundraising, he lived like one too. He visited cliff-top Caribbean resorts, golf courses designed by PGA champions and four-star restaurants — all courtesy of donors who bankrolled his political money empire.

Over the past six years, the former House majority leader and his associates have visited places of luxury most Americans have never seen, often getting there aboard corporate jets arranged by lobbyists and other special interests.

Public documents reviewed by The Associated Press tell the story: at least 48 visits to golf clubs and resorts; 100 flights aboard company planes; 200 stays at hotels, many world-class; and 500 meals at restaurants, some averaging nearly $200 for a dinner for two.
The congressman didn't try to hide it. Yet no one who bumped into him on these luxury junkets complained, raised their voice, questioned who was paying for it. He's a public servant -- doesn't it raise eyebrows when he travels first class, or stays in five-star hotels?

And I know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. It was clearly business-as-usual for DeLay, and there's no reason to think it's any different for the hundreds of congressmen and their aides who inhabit Washington -- and the armies of lobbyists, corporate reps, contractors, and others who are paid to sway elected and appointed officials to support their causes.

Here's a challenge for our local media outlets like the Globe and Herald: Do a job on local Massachusetts congressmen and senators like the AP did on this corrupt jerk from Texas. Frank, Markey, Kennedy, Kerry. See who pays for their vacations, golf outings, expensive dinners. And if there are any infractions -- a single one -- bring the offender down like DeLay.

They work for us, not for corporate America. If they have been taking their marching orders from lobbyists and corporate bigwigs, it's time for them to leave.

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