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US: Stench of sleaze Rises from Congress

It takes two to commit bribery the person who takes the bribe and the person who gives it. Justice demands the next prosecution be of the defense contractors who kept the San Diego-area congressman supplied with an eye-popping flow of cash, luxury cars, yachts and other amenities.

by EditorialThe DesMoines Register
December 2nd, 2005

It takes two to commit bribery the person who takes the bribe and the person who gives it.

U.S. Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham pleaded guilty earlier this week to charges related to receiving $2.4 million in bribes. Justice demands the next prosecution be of the defense contractors who kept the San Diego-area congressman supplied with an eye-popping flow of cash, luxury cars, yachts and other amenities.

They're just as guilty as he is. Prosecutors should keep pressing their investigation to nail anyone involved in corrupting Cunningham and any other members of Congress who might be similarly entangled.

Congress and the Pentagon have some investigating to do, too of themselves. Cunningham served on a subcommittee for defense appropriations. He admitted using his influence to get the Pentagon to award contracts to the contractors who bribed him. Something is deeply wrong with Pentagon procurement if a single member of Congress can steer contracts to certain contractors.

The Cunningham scandal comes in the midst of a hydra-headed investigation of influence peddling by lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the indictment of former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay for an alleged campaign money-laundering conspiracy and an investigation of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist for possible insider trading.

There is a stench rising from Congress. It's not just the criminal probes but also the growing sense that this Congress has been bought and paid for through campaign contributions, members' luxury travel on lobbyists' tabs and high-salary jobs upon departure in companies their lawmaking helped. Such activities may be perfectly legal, but they leave an impression of sleaze.

Republicans took control of Congress a decade ago with promises of bringing higher ethical standards to Washington. We're still waiting.



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