Sunday, February 05, 2006

Rahm Emanuel & the Culture of Corruption

Rep. Rahm "Hired Truck" Emanuel has realized that, if you're going to run a campaign against corruption, it might help to tidy up your own backyard. Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times reports:

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), the boss of the House Democratic political operation who is making ethics a centerpiece issue in the November elections, last month quietly switched campaign treasurers -- from a federal lobbyist who has for a long time served in that role to someone else.
Emanuel's move comes as GOP leaders who control Congress are seriously considering a crackdown on ethics rules in the wake of an unfolding GOP scandal triggered by the conviction of Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Kathleen Connery, Emanuel's government spokesman, said the treasurer, William Singer, a lawyer and a lobbyist, has been replaced. Asked why, Connery replied, "It's obvious.''
The obvious, I surmise, is this: Emanuel saw the need to get his own ethics house in order. Singer is a former Chicago alderman whose friendship with Emanuel predates his election to Congress. Singer is also a fund-raiser for Senate Democrats. ...
In Washington, Singer represents United Airlines, mainly on pension issues and Verizon on telecommunication legislation.

The irony of a Chicago Democrat, closely tied to the legendarily corrupt Daley machine, talking about "ethics" must have been lost on the people who chose Emanuel as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Lynn Sweet points out:

Back in May, Emanuel and Rep. Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) introduced a legislative package of much-needed ethics reforms. ... The Emanuel-Meehan news conference came two days after the U.S. attorney in Chicago announced a plea agreement with Gerald Wesolowski, a top lieutenant in City Hall's Water Department, part of the ongoing Hired Truck corruption scandal. The pleadings said that City Hall's political army was used to do field work on behalf of campaigns affiliated with Mayor Daley, Emanuel and several others. Emanuel said he knew nothing about City Hall pressuring workers to campaign for him.

Yeah, right, Rahm -- and Tom DeLay had no idea who paid for his golf trip to Scotland.

In case you're not from Chicago, there were four new suspects indicted just last week in the "hired truck" scandal, and one of the newly-indicted suspects was a Daley in-law.

The "hired truck" scandal gets its name from a Chicago city practice of out-sourcing its trucking business to contractors. Chicago being Chicago, this program was shot through with bribery and kickbacks and corrupt hiring practices. Among other things, city employees on the clock operated as a political "army" to get out the vote for Daley, Emanuel and other Democrats in Chicago.

Unless you're from Chicago, you've probably never heard of this massive Democratic scandal, complete with Mafia connections. While the national media have lavished attention on the Abramoff scandal, they've managed to ignore the fact that Rahm Emanuel -- the former Clinton aide who is now chairman of the campaign committee trying to recapture the House for Democrats in 2006 -- was elected to Congress with the aid of Daley's corrupt Chicago machine.

You go, Rahm! Let's talk about ethics!