Introducing, The Most Corrupt Members of Congress!
Every year, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) releases a list of the most corrupt members of Congress. The list, which has come under fire from conservatives for being too left-leaning, is based on a combination campaign finance violations, flagrant rules violations, credible allegations of corruption and other factors. The nonpartisan Center identifies the 14 most corrupt members, and also points out a few “Dishonorable Mentions.” While some of the people on this year’s list have been serial offenders of Ethics rules on the Hill, some are new — and some are unexpected. Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) Facebook CREW’s Charges: Richardson is being investigated for claims that she forced her official Congressional staff to work on her re-election campaign, then later obstructing an official ethics investigation into the claims. I f the claims against Richardson are true, the California Congresswoman is an awful boss. According to the CREW report, Richardson repeatedly forced her congressional staff to do hundreds of hours of unpaid work for her 2010 re-election campaign, and penalized employees who fell short of her expectations. Some instances are particularly glaring, like forcing an employee to put fliers on cars until two in the morning, or penalizing someone who was on vacation. She also forced interns to attend a fundraiser and even had one staff member volunteer for her opponent to collect intel. Earlier this year, Richardson admitted to a seven-count Statement of Alleged Violation in front of the House Ethics Committee and was forced to pay a $10,000 fine. Rep. David Rivera (R-FL) Facebook CREW’s Charges: Rivera is under investigation by the FBI and the IRS for multiple money laundering and tax evasion schemes. According to CREW, David Rivera has cooked his campaign books, repeatedly misreporting income on mandatory finance disclosure forms, and using campaign funds to steer money to family and friends. His accounts situation was described as “a mystery” by a prosecutor, and, according to investigators he’s been dishonest on reporting information. Rivera is also accused of breaking multiple campaign finance laws when he intervened in a Democratic primary by paying for his preferred opponent’s mailers. Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ) medill dc / flickr CREW’s Charges: Andrews earmarked federal funds for his wife’s employer and also used his campaign money for personal expenses — including a lavish family trip to Scotland. In 2011, Andrews used campaign funds to fly to Scotland for the wedding of a friend, spending three nights at the five-star Balmoral Hotel and racking up $30,000 in extravagent expenses, including the purchase of fine china and thousands spent on food and petty expenses. He also tapped into the campaign fund for a $10,000 elegant carnival-themed graduation party for a daughter, and later spent $97,000 on California trips to jump start his daughter’s acting career. And his congressional campaign made generous donations to theaters where his daughter performed. His wife’s employer, Rutgers University School of Law, has received more than $1.5 million in earmarks from Andrews. Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) US Army Corps of Engineers / flickr CREW’s Charges: Bishop solicited campaign donations from a hedge fund advisor who asked him to help get permits to put on a fireworks show for his son’s Bar Mitzvah. When Eric Semler, a Long Island hedge fund advisor, had trouble scoring the necessary permits for the fireworks show, he reached out to Bishop, his congressman with whom he’d had little prior contact. Bishop offered to make a few phone calls to grease up some wheels in the local government. Soon after, Bishop’s daughter called Semler and hit him up for a contribution of up to $10,000. Semler, the hedge fund manager, described the experience as “really gross.” Read Business Insiders story on Semler’s fireworks fiasco here > Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) Wikimedia Commons CREW’s Charges: According to CREW, Grimm, a freshman congressman, set up an illegal system to funnel money into his campaign. Essentially, there’s a maximum amount that people can give to a campaign, and Grimm flouted that by setting up a way for big donors to give money through middlemen. So, if Big Donor A wanted to give $20,000 to Grimm illegally, Grimm would accept the cash — literally at a money drop — and then find eight people, known as “straw donors,” who were willing to say that they each contributed the maximum $2,500, and tell the FEC that the money came from those fake donors. Even more damning, some of Grimm’s big donors were allegedly non-U.S. citizens, which is illegal, and Grimm may have offered a green card in exchange for fundraising assistance. He also used CSPAN footage of a floor speech in campaign emails, which is against House rules. He had previously used official materials — namely, the FBI’s seal and the Marine emblem — for fundraising purposes. Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) dsb nola via Flickr CREW’s Charges: Vitter — who is infamous for being fingered in a prostitution sting — is now under investigation for an attempted bribery of the U.S. Secretary of the Interior . According to the CREW report, Vitter told Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar that he would block legislation granting the secretary’s pay raise until the Department issued six permits for deepwater exploratory wells each month. The Senate Ethics Committee issued a letter stating that Vitter’s actions were inappropriate, but Vitter later took pride in his action and said he would do it again. CREW points out that, technically, this is a bribe. Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) U.S. Congressman Hal Rogers CREW’s Charges: Rogers used his position as the Chairman of the House Appropriations