Congressional Corruption

CONGRESSIONAL CORRUPTION….A few weeks ago I linked to Art Levine’s American Prospect article about endemic corruption in Congress, but only the section of the story about Rep. Bob Ney was online. The whole thing is now up, so here’s an excerpt from the saga of Joe Barton and Westar Energy:

For pure blatancy, Westar?s pay-for-play scheme was extraordinary in the recent history of congressional influence peddling….The company spelled out its strategy in May 2002 internal memos that explained how to get a ?seat? at the conference-committee table and spelled out the dollar amounts demanded by Barton and others. The executives and lobbyists responded by opening their checkbooks.

At first, the infusion of cash bought the provision that they wanted. On September 18, 2002, Barton successfully placed the Westar loophole in the House conference version of the energy bill. A little more than a week later, however, Westar became as radioactive as a nuclear dump when its corporate officers received a grand-jury subpoena. By October, even House Republicans who had glommed Westar?s money decided that the sec exemption looked bad, and they withdrew the language from the controversial energy bill.

Unlike some other legislators, Barton apparently didn?t even give the money back. And he doesn?t seem likely to face any consequences for his unethical conduct.

That’s a shocker, eh?

The rest of the article targets Curt Weldon, Maxine Waters (yes, a Democrat!), and an additional rogues gallery of honorable mentions. Read it and weep.

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