Monday, March 29, 2010
STATE CORRUPTION? REMEMBER JIM?
Sleezy states have their political culture; reformers are corrupt and the populist heroes are federal criminals.
Ohio's corruption has been overshadowed by bigger-name states in the last two years, but it would be a mistake to count it out: for several years in the last decade, the Buckeye State was a national standout. Comically unpopular Gov. Bob Taft's administration was rocked near the end by a scandal known as Coingate. Coin dealer and top Republican fundraiser Tom Noe was awarded contracts to invest $50 million on behalf of the Bureau of Workers' Compensation, which he invested in surprise—rare coins, an investment choice that would have made the state a laughing stock on its own. But it got worse: when it emerged that two coins worth $300,000 were missing, it became clear that Noe was running a money-laundering scheme. Ultimately, only $13 million was recovered, and Noe was sentenced to 18 years in jail in 2006; Taft was convicted of misdemeanors. In August 2005, Taft pleaded no contest to violating state ethics laws.
Democratic state Sen. Marc Dann, who had been a leading critic of state investment practices and led the charge against Noe, rode an anti-corruption wave into the attorney general's office, depicting himself as a strong voice against the old order. Once installed, he promptly began sexually harassing two staff members and having an extramarital affair with a third. The Cleveland Plain Dealer said Dann had "turned the attorney general's office into a laughing stock," and he was forced to resign after little more than a year in office.
Still not crooked enough? James A. Traficant, 68, an eccentric former sheriff and an Ohio Democrat who was expelled from Congress after being found guilty of bribery and racketeering, served seven years in a Minnesota prison until recently. He returned to Youngstown, Ohio recently after being released from prison. He was convicted of 10 felony counts, including filing false tax returns, accepting bribes and kickbacks, accepted labor and materials from contractors (on his Ohio farm) for congressional favors.
Ohio is not the only state with corruption; New York, Louisiana, Illinois, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Rhode Island are all in the news for their share.
Why can't we elect HONEST lawmakers who are FOR the American people instead of themselves?????