Well, another Congressman has been indicted for corruption. Arizona Republican Rick Renzi has been hit with a 26-page, 35-count indictment for some allegedly shady land deals.
I have a fairly simple rule for politicians: if they get indicted, then they are guilty until proven innocent. And even then, I have have some doubts.
The only time I’ve ever felt the least bit of sympathy for a politician who’s run afoul of the law was in the case of Tom DeLay. As loathsome as I found him, it was kind of hard to dismiss his claim of being harassed by an obsessed prosecutor when it was revealed that his indictment came from the third grand jury the guy had convened. The first had refused to indict, and the second only managed to indict DeLay by violating the US Constitution and charge him with breaking a law before it went into effect.
I have an even more draconian opinion of bureaucrats. I believe that every one of them ought to be randomly selected, taken out, and shot. OK, maybe not shot, but something randomly draconian to remind the rest that a government job is not a right or an entitlement.
But that aside, let’s look at Representative Renzi’s case. I have come to the conclusion that corruption is a non-partisan issue; there are crooks in both parties.
The real distinction, to me, is in how the parties handle their attainted members.
The Republicans tend to quickly move to ostracize their disgraced members. Randy “Duke” Cunningham was shunned immediately. Larry Craig became an instant pariah. Mark Foley became a leper the instant his peccadilloes became public. And the GOP leadership is already calling on Renzi to resign.
On the other hand, the Democrats tend to be somewhat more lenient.
William Jefferson is still in office, and it took serious protests from Republicans to get him off sensitive committees.
Alcee Hastings, who was impeached and removed from the federal bench in the 1990’s, is now a respected member of the House and a key member of Nancy Pelosi’s leadership. Indeed, he nearly ascended to the chair of the Intelligence Committee.
Dan Rostenkowski was pardoned by President Bill Clinton, who also commuted the sentence of Mel Reynolds.
Congratulations to the FBI for bagging another Congressman. May they continue to do so.
Now if we could just get some serious investigation into Dianne Feinstein, who steered literally billions of dollars of defense contracts to her husband’s companies…