I was wondering what my topic should be for today. Really, after a point there’s so much to choose from that it’s hard to decide which atrocity rates the most attention. Then I read this post by my co-blogger Charles over at Mercury Rising, on how Newt Gingrich and his fellow Republican corruption mongers escaped prison terms, and I knew. In fact, the post is so good that I’m going to reprint it in its entirety, below the fold, with some additional commentary.
In the course of the long political war that has at last exposed the massive corruption in the Republican party, no battle was more important than bringing to light Newt Gingrich’s slimy dealings. At the end of it, Gingrich reached an agreement with the House Ethics Committee to permit himself to be rebuked and fined $300,000. And then, in a classic Gingrich move, he conspired with other Republicans to spin the rebuke. He largely succeeded, setting the stage for the hubris of the Abramoff Republicans to run rampant.
But Newt almost did not succeed. Rep. Jim McDermott passed to the New York Times a recording that had been made by two Florida Democrats of the conversation of the conspirators, intercepted from their cell phones. At the time, listening in to cell phones was technically illegal, but widely done. At any rate, one of the conspirators, Rep. John Boehner, sued McDermott. He won his case and $1,111,388 in legal fees and interest.
McDermott is on the hook for over $143,000. If you want to help him, you can click here.
When I say that the Newtster and his buddies escaped prison terms, I do not say that lightly. Here’s a short run-down:
In a strongly worded report, special counsel James M. Cole concluded that Gingrich had violated tax law and lied to the investigating panel, but the subcommittee would not go that far. In exchange for the subcommittee agreeing to modify the charges against him, Gingrich agreed to the penalty Dec. 20 as part of a deal in which he admitted guilt.
Johnson called the reprimand and financial penalty "tough and unprecedented. It is also appropriate," she said. "No one is above the rules of the House."
The ethics committee that handled the charges against Gingrich went out of business at midnight last night without resolving complaints that the speaker received improper gifts, contributions and support from GOPAC, the political action committee he once headed. House Democrats are likely to submit those charges to the new ethics committee.
In addition, the Internal Revenue Service is looking into the use of tax-deductible charitable contributions to finance the college course Gingrich taught, which was at the center of the ethics case, and the ethics committee is making the material it gathered available to the tax agency.
As for the charming John Boehner and his media-burnished reputation for intelligence and integrity, Blue Texan yesterday mentioned some recent events that poke a few holes in that image. Furthermore, Julia Sisyphus at Off The Kuff has some details that somehow have escaped today’s media, and she presents them with exquisite sarcasm. First off, there’s this:
Mr. Boehner, Online Newshour, April 17, 1997
REP. JOHN BOEHNER: The leadership really did not engage in this. Not at one time during the last three months was there a discussion of this in the leadership. It was between Newt and his wife and his advisers and his lawyers over how this would be dealt with. But he kept it to himself. He worked with his friends and really did not involve the rest of the leadership in those discussions.
Gee, how sweet. Newt kept it to himself. Except, as Jim McDermott was able to prove, he didn’t — and Boehner knew it because he was in on it. To go back to Julia:
[Here is] A transcript of a conference call recorded by two citizens with a scanner (which is illegal, so don’t) off of Mr. Boehner’s cell phone signal, in which the entire House leadership discusses their strategy for dealing with Newt’s little difficulties. The call took place on December 21, 1996, or, if you prefer, at one time.
Subsequently, of course, as the water rose around Mr. Gingrich, Mr. Boehner scampered up the hawser.
He’s spent his time since consolidating his popularity with his fellow congresspersons on the right by the thoroughly un-DeLaylike strategy of, um, raising a huge pile of money from lobbyists*** and special interests and handing it out to his fellow incumbents.
Ah, yes, Boehner and his tobacco-money handouts. Yupper, quite a change from Evil Tom DeLay. Not. (Oh, and guess who Boehner replaced as the Republican congressman from Ohio’s Eighth District? None other than notorious scumbag Buz Lukens. But it’s OK, so long as you’re a Republican.)
Meanwhile, the man who nearly put Newt behind bars is being punished for revealing Newt’s anti-American schemings. That’s not right. Let’s help him out a little, shall we?
UPDATE: Oh, and our own Julia here at FDL reminds us that even as the Republicans like Boehner and Michelle Malkin try to pretend what simple workingclass souls they really are, their choice of restaurants belies them.