Saturday, January 14, 2006

"Democratic ethics" - an oxymoron?


If you're going to have a special legislative session on "ethics reform," do you really want to have legislators under indictment for bribery voting on the reforms?


Yep. If you're a Democrat ...

Tennessee Democratic state Sens. Ward Crutchfield and Kathry Bowers were caught in an FBI sting called "Operation Tennessee Waltz." This scandal, voted 2005 "story of the year" by Tennessee news editors, led the state's Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen to call a special session to deal with reforms. A Tennessee Republican state senator, Jim Bryson, called attention to the fact that Sens. Crutchfield and Bowers had still not resigned their seats, and asked whether it was appropriate for the disgraced Dems to be voting on "reforms."

Sen. Bryson said his rationale for the resolution was simple: a lawmaker indicted for criminal charges involving ethics should not be voting on legislation that deals with ethics reform.

Simple enough. Bryson sent Crutchfield and Bowers a letter, asking them not to attend the special session -- no response. So he introduced a resolution that would have urged the two indicted Dems not to attend. Democrats in the state senate voted down the resolution, and the shameless senators attended the session, with Crutchfield declaring:

"We're going to pass a very strong ethics bill ... I don't know anybody who's opposed to improving ethics."

As Lynn likes to say, is it possible to die from irony?

Four of the five lawmakers caught in "Operation Tennessee Waltz" were Democrats. The lone Republican caught in the sting, Rep. Chris Newton, did "the Republican thing" -- he pleaded guilty and resigned from office. Meanwhile, indicted Dems Crutchfield and Bowers remain in office.

This points out a key difference in GOP and Democratic responses to scandal, one we noted in DONKEY CONS: Democrats frequently survive even the most heinous scandals, remaining in office and sometimes going on to glory (think Chappaquiddick here). Republicans almost always resign after scandals (Nixon resigned rather than face impeachment; Clinton did not).

The story also illustrates Democrats' hypocrisy and opportunism when it comes to the partisan uses of scandal:

Tennessee Democratic Party spokesman Will Pinkston said Republicans are "desperately trying to make this into a partisan issue, and that just doesn't ring true with voters. People know that there is a broader issue of trust in government which spans both political parties."
He said Republicans should focus on their own problems, citing the case of Sen. Miller, who has acknowledged receiving $1,000 from Charles Love, an unregistered lobbyist and former Hamilton County Board of Education member. The senator, however, has said the money was a campaign contribution, not a bribe.
"If Ron Ramsey and Bob Davis are so concerned about these issues, then they need to ask Jeff Miller to step aside, considering he's square in the middle of a grand jury probe," Mr. Pinkston said. "Until they're ready to do that, this is all just a bunch of lip service."

OK, so faced with a serious ethics problem -- lawmakers indicted for bribery voting an "ethics reform" -- the Democrats (a) accuse the GOP of partisanship, (b) change the subject to a completely unrelated scandal that has not yet resulted in any legal charges, (c) insist that the fact that 4 of 5 busted lawmakers were Democrats "doesn't ring true with voters," and (d) insist that there is "as broader issue ... which spans both political parties."

Fine, fine. Now let's turn to Washington, DC, and the Abramoff lobbying scandal. Even though the central figures in this scandal are Republican, the fact is that Democrats in Congress got almost 3/4 as much Abramoff-connected cash as did GOP members. So the Abramoff scandal also "spans both political parties." Yet Rep. Nancy Pelosi says the scandal points to an exclusively Republican "culture of corruption," while Sen. Harry Reid says he'll keep every cent of the nearly $70,000 in Abramoff-related contributions he's collected, and insists:

"This is a Republican scandal. ... Abramoff gave me no money. So don't lump me in with Jack Abramoff."

And if Will Pinkston thinks a grand jury probe is sufficient reason for state Sen. Miller to "step aside," then what about the two Democrats in Congress identified among the FBI's "first tier" of suspects in the Abramoff scandal? Hmmm?

(Crickets chirping)

How do Democrats get away with such two-faced hypocrisy? The media. As Michelle Malkin pointed out in May, when Tennessee state Sen. John Ford was indicted, the AP omitted his partisan affiliation from its initial news story. This is part of a trend we noted here.

As Ann Coulter has observed, “Liberals simply can’t grasp the problem Lexis-Nexis poses to their incessant lying."

-- MCCAIN

UPDATE: Just wanted to give a hat tip to GOP IN THE CITY, who has lots of good stuff on "Operation Tennessee Waltz."

Friday, January 13, 2006

How easy it is

When Lynn suggested the book idea two years ago and we started researching, we were quickly struck by just how easy it is to find corrupt Democrats in the news. Anybody can do it but -- because of media bias -- you have to know the tricks.

Any day of the week, just go to Google News and enter a term like "mayor," "councilman," "lawmaker," etc., in combination with "indicted," "arrested," "guilty," etc. Hit the return key, and start checking out the results. You will notice that most of the corrupt politicians (or, to be fair, politicians accused of corruption) are not listed by party name. Mayor Smith is indicted, arrested, convicted, etc., and that darn local newspaper just can't seem to remember what his party is! Isn't that strange?

If the guy's a Republican, there won't be any doubt. The newspaper may even put his party affiliation in the headline: "GOP mayor goes to prison."* This goes to show you that media bias isn't just the big boys at the New York Times; it goes all the way down to the tiniest little local daily.

But if the corrupt guy's a Democrat, his party affiliation probably won't be mentioned in the news story about his indictment. So you will now have to do separate Googles to double-check.

Anyone who takes the time to research this subject will find the same thing we found: Day in, day out, year after year, Democrats are the all-time leaders in political corruption, by a ratio of at least 3 to 2, and probably more like 2 to 1.

How easy is it to find corrupt Democrats? I just got off deadline (Lynn's sending the corrected manuscript to the publisher today, and it's supposed to hit the bookstores in April). So it's been a few weeks since we've done any fresh research into late-breaking scandals. So I thought I'd just check out Google News to see if there were newly-exposed bad boys out there. It took only a few seconds to discover former Eastlake, Ohio, Mayor Dan DiLiberto.

Just before the end of the year, Mayor DiLiberto was indicted on four felony charges. Tracey Read of the (Willoughby, Ohio) News-Herald reported Dec. 31:

DiLiberto, 58 ... is accused of helping Richmond Heights businessman John Chiappetta improperly receive funds from a state loan program to develop Eastlake Industrial Park.

He was indicted Thursday in Lake County Common Pleas Court on four felony charges - falsification, two counts of theft in office and complicity to aggravated theft.He was also indicted on two misdemeanor falsification counts.

DiLiberto was mayor from January 1994 to April 2004. When he retired and suddenly moved to Florida in the middle of his term, citing health concerns, the Eastlake Police Department and the FBI began a 17-month investigation. The investigation started out focusing on whether DiLiberto mishandled money from marriage ceremonies, illegally bought city goods for family members, and misused campaign funds.

Authorities then shifted their focus from allegations of impropriety to the former mayor's suspected involvement with Chiappetta, who defaulted on repayment of an estimated $2.7 million of a $3.015 million state loan for the Erie Road industrial park.Chiappetta is scheduled for trial Feb. 6 in Lake County Common Pleas Court on charges of aggravated theft, forgery and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Notice, however, that nowhere in the story is it mentioned that DiLiberto is a Democrat. To discover that, you'd have to Google the ex-mayor's name with the word "Democrat."

Right now, Ohio is up to its neck in corruption scandals involving Republican politicians. I doubt you'd find a single story about Bob Ney, for instance, that omits his party affiliation. Indeed, I just got 168 hits with a Google News search for the phrase "Republican scandal.") But when Democrats get caught with their hands in the cookie jar, they suddenly and rather mysteriously become nonpartisan in media accounts.

But there's no such thing as liberal bias, right?

-- MCCAIN

* UPDATE: Via Michelle Malkin, I went to Ranting Right Wing Howler, where Vilmar points out a perfect example of this phenomenon (i.e., corrupt Republicans being identified by party affiliation in headlines) from the San Francisco Chronicle: "Scandal rocks Ohio GOP insider." And this is why the MSM is losing audience share: They really do think people are too stupid to notice their bias.

Here we are

Welcome to Donkey Cons, the blog inspired by the new book by Lynn Vincent & Robert Stacy McCain. We'll discuss the book, and update with the latest news on Democratic Party scandals.

-- MCCAIN