12 of America's Most Crooked Candidates on the Ballot in the 2010 Election
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Since 2005, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), has compiled a list of the dirtiest, most corrupt critters to scurry across the halls of Congress. The annual report shines some light on the double-dealing and back-scratching of some shady characters, and its release generally gets good play among political reporters.
But 2010 is the year of the upstart, insurgent candidacies — with dozens of “outsiders” on the scene dedicated to “cleaning up Washington,” “taking our country back,” etc. It’s the year of the Tea Parties, and no incumbent is safe. So it’s entirely appropriate that CREW should release a new list this year, one that looks not at the worst sitting members of Congress but at the dirtiest candidates — the people most likely to rank among the most corrupt in Congress if they go on to win their elections.
From James Traficant, running as an independent candidate in Ohio just 14 months after his release from prison on charges of bribery, racketeering and filing fraudulent tax returns, to Alvin Greene, an unemployed and apparently indigent Democratic Senate candidate out of South Carolina who can’t explain how he came up with the $10,000 fee required to file — here are 12 of the absolutely least deserving candidates for high office.
Roy Blunt -- Running for U.S. Senate, Missouri
Roy Blunt is a candidate in the Republican primary for the United States Senate in Missouri. For the last 14 years, Rep. Blunt has served in the U.S. House of Representatives in the state’s 7th congressional district. As a member of Congress, Rep. Blunt came under fire for a variety of issues including employing the same corrupt tactics that forced his mentor, former Texas Rep. Tom DeLay, to resign. Rep. Blunt’s ethical issues were documented in CREW’s 2006 report on the most corrupt members of Congress.
In 2003, Rep. Blunt divorced his wife of 31 years to marry Philip Morris (now Altria) lobbyist Abigail Perlman. Before it was known publicly that Rep. Blunt and Ms. Perlman were dating – and only hours after Rep. Blunt assumed the role of Majority Whip – he tried to secretly insert a provision into Homeland Security legislation that would have benefitted Philip Morris, at the expense of competitors. Notably, Philip Morris/Altria and its subsidiaries contributed at least $217,000 to campaign committees connected to Rep. Blunt from 1996 to 2006.
Also in 2003, Rep. Blunt helped his son, Andrew Blunt, by inserting a provision into the $79 billion emergency appropriation for the war in Iraq to benefit U.S. shippers like United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp. Andrew Blunt lobbied on behalf of UPS in Missouri, and UPS and FedEx contributed at least $58,000 to Rep. Blunt from 2001 to 2006.
Family connections have also helped another of Rep. Blunt’s sons, former Missouri Governor Matt Blunt. Gov. Blunt received campaign contributions from nearly three dozen influential Missouri lobbyists and lawyers when he ran for governor of Missouri in 2004, half of whom had provided financial support to his father. Earlier in 2000, when Matt Blunt was running for Secretary of State, Rep. Blunt was involved in an apparent scheme, along with Rep. DeLay, to funnel money through a local party committee into Matt Blunt’s campaign committee.
Rep. Blunt and his staff had close connections to convicted former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. In June 2003, Mr. Abramoff persuaded then-Majority Leader DeLay to organize a letter, co-signed by then-Speaker Dennis Hastert, then-Whip Blunt, and then-Deputy Whip Eric Cantor, which endorsed a view of gambling law benefitting Mr. Abramoff’s client, the Louisiana Coushatta, by blocking gambling competition by another tribe. Mr. Abramoff had donated $8,500 to Rep. Blunt’s leadership PAC, Rely on Your Beliefs.