Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW), my favorite watchdog group, recently issued a list of the 20 most corrupt members of Congress.
Last year, CREW named the 13 most ethically challenged legislators. Since then, as scandal infects Washington, the cast of characters has expanded.
Republicans dominate the list. Of the 17 most corrupt, only three are Democrats. Those named range from well-known figures such as Bill Frist and Rick Santorum, members under investigation by the FBI, such as Senator Conrad Burns and Reps. Jerry Lewis, William Jefferson and Alan Mollohan, and people you’ve probably never heard of, like California Reps. Ken Calvert and Gary Miller.
Highlights include House Appropriations Chairman Jerry Lewis, whose lobbyist pal Bill Lowery could become the next Jack Abramoff; New York Rep. John Sweeney, who a few months back showed up drunk to a local frat party, threw a taxpayer funded Winter sporting weekend and hired his wife as a fundraiser even though she had no previous fundraising experience; and North Carolina Rep. Charles Taylor, a former businessman whose partners plead guilty to bank fraud and who did numerous questionable business deals in Russia with a former Soviet KGB colonel that CREW writes is “linked to an international multibillion money-laundering scheme.”
The list also includes five members, including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, to keep an eye on. The way things are going in Washington, expect the list to double by year’s end.