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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Former Rep. Tom Delay from Texas proves how far a politician can fall

He was one of the most powerful Republicans in Congress, and had the nickname of “the Hammer” due to his bullying style of handling people. Former Rep. Tom Delay, once the number two person in the House of Representatives, was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He, of course, plans to appeal the verdict. The decision was based on $190,000 of corporate donations that were involved in a Texas-style “money swap.”

Delay had two co-conspirators that assisted in getting the money to the Washington-based Republican National Committee, which disbursed it to seven Texas House candidates. The prosecution said that the $190,000 was instrumental in the GOP taking control of the Texas House. That, in turn, paved the way for redistricting that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004.

The judge has several options in sentencing Delay of up to life in prison, but a Texas defense attorney remarked that he would probably only get a few years, if he gets any prison at all. Delay was also mixed up with former lobbyist, Jack Abramoff, in 2005, an association that ended his 22-year political career. The Hammer later surfaced in 2009 as the Dancer in ABC’s TV show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the other side of the aisle is Charlie Rangel, congressman from New York’s Harlem district, a 40-year veteran who is being charged with financial and fundraising misconduct by the House. Rangel, who is 80 years old, pleaded with the House to not call him corrupt, and it did not. Convicted on 11 counts of ethical wrongdoing, the ethics committee recommended 9 to 1 for censure.

Rangel is accused of using the power of his office to solicit money for a college center named after him. There were ten years of misleading financial statements re. his assets and other shenanigans over a New York apartment. As the former chairman of the House’s tax-writing committee, it was considered particularly flagrant that he hadn’t paid taxes on income from one of his properties for 17 years.

Two wrongs—one from each side of the political aisle—do not make a right. And you can kiss “transparency” and “accountability” goodbye in the future with the incoming Republican House ready to ditch the Office of Congressional Ethics. This is an independent body established to watch over Congress, and apparently as far as the GOP is concerned, doing too good of a job. What does this say about the Republicans many of you voted for, and Congress in general?


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