Corrupto-Caucus

Ben Pershing of the Washington Post takes a look through the laundry list of scandals, indictments, and imprisonments and asks "what is the Hill Corrupt-o-Meter showing for the 110 Congress?" Apparently, this thing goes to eleven.

Leaving aside more personal scandals (hello David Vitter, Vito Fossella, and Larry Craig) the list is still quite impressive...er, depressing. First, there are the Abramoff Aftershocks. Former Reps. DeLay and Ney are of course gone for good, with Rep. Doolittle soon to join them in early retirement. Then there's freshly indicted Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) who pleaded not guilty yesterday to seven counts related to a corruption investigation and his state-mate Rep. Don Young (R) has been subject to a little FBI scrutiny of his own. There are the Lone Ranger scandal-magnets like Rep. Rick Renzi (R-AZ) and his corrupt land deals, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) whose earmarking seems to have benefited no one so much as his former staffers and their clients, and Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) who got caught up in the investigation over the firings of the U.S. Attorneys.

On the other side of the aisle things are far from pristine. There's of course Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) and his freezer full of bribe money from Nigerian business interests. Rep. Charlie Rangel's (D-NY) is getting questions about his real estate dealings, and Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-WV) still finds himself embroiled in an ethics investigation.

Is it any wonder people are less than pleased with the work of Congress these days? It's tough to get much done with upwards of a dozen members of Congress out attending their own plea hearings, while the rest of them attempt to raise money to keep running for office while avoiding landing in any of the ethical pits their peers fell in to.

Personally, I'd like to see the Corrupt-o-Meter go down a notch or two -- betcha' passage of the Fair Elections Now Act would do the trick.