Sometimes it seems there are almost as many ways for members of Congress to be corrupt as there are members of Congress.
A company in which Paul Pelosi holds an 8 percent ownership stake just had $1.7 million dollars in federal pandemic relief loans forgiven. Gee, I wonder how that happened. He’s the guy who bought perhaps $5 million in stock options in a computer chip company before the big vote on subsidies for computer chip companies. He wasn’t the only one. A former chair of the Dallas Federal Reserve recently criticized the Pelosi’s and others connected to the Hill for taking advantage of inside information for years.
When I was in high school, Senator Charles Percy from Illinois put all his holdings into a blind trust so he never knew what his money was invested in, or how his Senate votes affected his personal fortune. I always admired that and thought it is the solution to the insider trading problem on Capitol Hill.
It’s not just stock. Down-for-the-struggle Squad member Ayanna Pressley introduced a bill to provide taxpayer-funded relief for landlords, then picked up a nice rental property portfolio just two months later. But we are supposed to have blind trust the people we send to Congress have our best interests at heart, not their own pocketbook.
She’s not the only one who might be thinking being in Congress is the road to riches. Since 2000, at least 90 former members of Congress have registered as foreign agents to lobby on behalf of foreign governments, with Communist China coming on strong in recent years. These former members know where their rice bowl is buttered.
Then we have good old-fashioned nepotism, the latest example being Chuck Schumer’s son-in-law who just scored a position as director of government affairs for Blackstone, the big private equity group which is keenly interested in infrastructure and tax legislation Congress might pass. Schumer previously blocked legislation that was opposed by companies that had hired other members of his family.
No story on Capitol Hill corruption would be complete without the use of campaign funds for personal enrichment. Top Democrats in the House – Maxine Waters, James Clyburn, and Ilhan Omar all have put family members on campaign payrolls to the tune of millions of dollars. California Democrat Eric Swalwell wants to use campaign funds to pay for babysitters while he travels overseas. The campaign fund of deceased Congressman Alcee Hastings recently shut down but not before giving the last $23,000 to his widow for no apparent campaign purpose. If this is within the rules, there’s something wrong with the rules.
Everyone’s heard of congressional junkets – free trips to exotic places having no legislative purpose. But here’s the dirty little secret: Outside groups get millions in federal grants, fund hundreds of these useless trips – not to mention campaign contributions – then turn around and lobby for more federal grants. Nice racket they got going there.
Stories like these would be amusing if they weren’t so criminal. The House Ethics Committee recently referred the Democrat Delegate from Guam to the Justice Department for possible prosecution for taking excessive campaign contributions and trying to hide them. A former Democrat House member from California was just indicted for money laundering, wire fraud, and campaign finance violations – 28 counts in all. Among other things, he is accused of funneling money from his businesses to friends and family so they could donate it to his campaign. Pretty ingenious.
Don’t get mad – get even. Asking your member of Congress if they will put all their holdings into a blind trust like Charles Percy did is a good place to start.
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