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The View from CREW

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NOTE FROM JOHN: Today we launch a new regular feature on AMERICAblog, "The View from CREW." Every week or so, Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a kick-ass non-partisan ethics watchdog group here in DC, will check in and fill us in on the latest ethics atrocities in our lovely nation's capital. As longtime readers know, we really have a lot of respect for the work CREW does, so we're very excited that Melanie will be gracing our cyber-home.

Tom DeLay may be gone from Congress, but his legacy of corruption is alive and well on Capitol Hill. As proof, today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its second annual report on the most corrupt members of Congress entitled "Beyond DeLay: The 20 Most Corrupt Members of Congress (and five to watch)."

This report extensively documents the egregious, unethical and possibly illegal activities of the most tainted members of Congress. CREW has compiled the members’ transgressions and then analyzed them in light of federal laws and congressional rules.

We issued our first “Beyond DeLay” in September 2005. Since then, DeLay has resigned and two of the 13 members in last year’s report have pleaded guilty to corruption crimes: Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) is now serving an eight-year jail term for bribery and Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH) will likely serve at least two years for conspiracy and making false statements.

Too many elected officials believe they are above the law. That’s why CREW created this encyclopedia on corruption in the 109th Congress: to hold unethical members of Congress accountable for their actions

The 20 elected officials named in this report have chosen to enrich themselves and their families and friends by abusing their positions, rather than work for the public good. And Americans care about congressional corruption: a Gallup poll released in May of 2006 shows that 83% of Americans consider corruption a serious issue.

There’s another reason why CREW creates reports like Beyond DeLay. Congress has abdicated its constitutional obligation to police itself. Not a single ethics complaint has been filed in the U.S. House of Representatives in this Congress – not even against Cunningham or Ney.

Luckily, the Department of Justice still believes that political corruption is worth pursuing. In fact, just yesterday, New York Daily News reported that the FBI has tripled the number of agents working on issues of congressional corruption.

Read "Beyond DeLay." You’ll be outraged. Unfortunately, I can guarantee we’ll be doing another edition next year.

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