Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Is There A Culture Of Corruption?

The Democrats' have been testing a new catch phrase in recent months in their quest to retake control of Congress. We have consistently heard Minority Leaders' Reid and Pelosi proclaiming a "culture of corruption" in Washington. It is easy to dismiss their rhetoric as simply election year posturing from a party devoid of leadership and new ideas; and to a certain degree that is the case. You will always find a few rotten apples in a barrel. The unfortunate actions of a few should not be an indictment of an entire political party. Recent events, both nationally and locally, have given me reason to pause and rethink my previous conclusions. I am not suggesting that the Republican party or its members are inherently corrupt or immoral. I simply ask has sustained control of all three branches of government fostered the same entitlement to power mentality that eventually ousted the Democrats' from power after 40 years?

Locally, the Missouri Governor's office is being investigated by federal authorities on how license fee offices were awarded to political supporters. The FBI is also investigating the lobbying practices of those close to the governor, including the governor's brother. Texas prosecutors in the criminal case against Rep. Tom DeLay recently sought certified copies of campaign finance disclosure reports for the year 2000 for Governor Matt Blunt and his principal campaign committee, Missourians For Matt Blunt. During that year's campaign, Blunt received significant contributions from out-of-state sources. And finally, the Missouri House Speaker is under an ethics cloud for running a political consulting business whose sole client is a fellow legislator.

These recent allegations against members of a party that I generally vote for are disheartening to say the least. But even more disheartening is the fact that two prominent Republican African Americans have been entangled in the "culture of corruption" web. Nationally, Claude Allen the former white House policy advisor, was recently arrested in a bizarre shoplifting scheme. A Washington Post story today insultingly suggests that the pressures of being a black republican led to his actions.

Locally, prominent attorney and republican insider Charles Polk pleaded guilty yesterday to defrauding his former law firm. He was also found liable earlier this month in an unrelated case of defrauding a former business partner. Polk was an advisor to former Attorney General Ashcroft in 2001 during his cantankerous Senate confirmation hearings. He was a mainstay as a commentator on Fox News. If the Democrats' can capitalize on the perceived "culture of corruption" they will regain control of at least the House. If the Republicans' lose control, they will have no one to blame but themselves.

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