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Mainstream Media Ignore Democrats' Ethics Probes

November 2, 2009
By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

Leaks about big shots who become subjects of ethics investigations are typically huge news.

But a Washington Post story, which disclosed names of key members of Congress who are involved in ethics probes, had the mainstream media basically turning a blind eye.

Maybe that's because most of the congressional members who are currently huddled together under the ethics cloud happen to be Democrats.

Representatives John Murtha, D-Pa., Peter Visclosky, D-Ind., Norm Dicks, D-Wash., Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, and James Moran, D-Va., are being investigated for allegedly steering millions in earmarks to a lobbying firm, PMA.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, the biggest recipients of contributions from PMA and its clients were Murtha, who since 1989 has been given more than $2.3 million, and Visclosky, who has taken in more than $1.3 million.

Two Republicans are also being checked into, Reps. C.W. "Bill" Young of Florida and Todd Tiahrt of Kansas.

On the day the story broke, all three network morning shows conveniently chose to ignore it.

Meanwhile, busy as bumblebees, the House Ethics Committee has been investigating complaints against two Democrat congresswomen from the Los Angeles area, Maxine Waters and Laura Richardson.

The committee released a statement indicating that the investigation surrounding Waters would look into the congresswoman's activities involving the National Bankers Assn. and OneUnited Bank, a company in which her husband owned stock and served on its board.

Massachusetts-based OneUnited Bank received $12 million in bailout money. The funding took place three months after Waters, a senior member of the congressional committee that oversees banking, helped to set up a meeting between minority-owned financial institutions and officials in the Treasury Department.

Sidney Williams, Waters' husband, was a member of the bank's board of directors until early 2008. He held investments in the bank valued at $350,000, according to Waters' financial disclosure report.

The committee also plans to investigate whether Richardson failed to list certain items on her financial disclosure forms, and whether she received a "gift or preferential treatment" from Washington Mutual after her Sacramento house was sold at a foreclosure auction. Washington Mutual subsequently returned the two-story residence to the congresswoman.

Adding to the morass are the ethics questions swirling around New York Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel. Recent disclosures have raised serious questions about Rangel's personal finances.

Another Democrat, Rep. Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, is being probed over real estate holdings.

Back in 2006, prior to the elections, Nancy Pelosi issued a press release about how she and 160 House Democrats had introduced their Honest Leadership and Open Government Act that Pelosi touted as "an aggressive reform package to reverse Republican excesses and protect the public trust."

To paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, how's that public trust thing workin' out for you?

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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