Culture of corruption follies
Just when things really heat up, a "routine" appointment takes the lead prosecutor in the Abramoff/Republican lobbying scandal off the case? Come on.
Lest you think the investigation began a month or two months ago and that some new guy'll just catch up, consider this: Noel L. Hillman is being removed from a TWO YEAR LONG INVESTIGATION into the Republican lobbyist and his considerable tentacles. If you've ever worked on a project, let alone led one, for two years, you know what this means.
Sure, the rest of the team may stay on, but the leadership will temporarily be in the hands of Andrew Lourie before being handed over to yet another. Hillman's permanent replacement is unlikely, in any way, shape or form, to be an independent prosecutor.
I hate to harp on Democratic failings yet again but NY Senator Chuck Schumer's response was understood by maybe 11 people and conveys all the conviction of a boy at senior prom: "The timing of Mr. Hillman's nomination 'jaundices this whole process... They have to appoint a special counsel. I think there will be broad support for one.'"
Jaundices Chuck? I think? What about suspicious, unethical, and a special counsel is the only course of action?
Rep George Miller, calling the move "startling," at least tied the removal to the investigation: "You have one of the chief prosecutors removed from a case that has tentacles throughout the Republican leadership of Congress, throughout the various agencies and into the White House."
Justice Dept. spokesman Bryan Sierra's statement is remarkably careful: "he did not know why the nomination had been delayed until this week, but he said he believed it had nothing to do with the Abramoff investigation." Believed huh? Sure you want to go out on a limb like that?
Meanwhile, Louise Slaughter (D-NY) is requesting that Bush confront the Culture of Corruption charge in the State of the Union:
"the PresidentÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s remarks will not be complete unless he finally confronts the issue of ethics reform and addresses the egregious abuses of power by the Republican Majority in the United States Congress, and the rampant cronyism and corruption which has taken hold in his own administration."***
Finally, the Campaign for America's Future and Public Campaign Action Fund have released a series of spoof campaign ads for the race to succeed Tom DeLay as the House Majority Leader. The race is filled with slightly-less corrupt and far less known candidates whose commitment to reform comes off about as genuine as a Scott McClellan... well, anything.
"Vote Roy Blunt for Republican Majority Leader," says one of the ads. "Because what's wrong with a little corruption among friends?" Another ad says, "Boehner for Republican Majority Leader. He knows K Street like the palm of his hand," referring to Rep. Boehner's handing out money on the House floor. The third ad says, "Vote John Shadegg for Republican Majority Leader. New leadership, old-fashioned influence peddling."