Dicky's Doodles &Scribbles

Cartoons,editorials and comment about current events and more.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Congress; America's Only Criminal Class!

Top: Katherine Harris, R, Fla.
Below: Tom Delay, R, Tx. (resigned)

Mark Twain once said "Congress is America's only criminal class!" Someone else said "We have the best Congress money can buy."
Recent events seem to bear these sentiments out.
A study done by the Center for Public Integrity, American Public Media and Northwestern University's Medill News Service shows how members of Congress and their aides took free trips worth nearly $50 million paid for by corporations, trade associations and
other private groups between January 2000 and June 2005. 23,000 trips covered in the study featured such perks as $500 a night hotel rooms, $25,000 corporate jet rides and visits to popular spots such as Paris, Hawaii and Colorado ski resorts. "In many instances, trip sponsors appeared to be buying access to elected officials or their advisors," the study said.A few of these junkets had legitimate fact-finding missions but most were for fun and enjoyment with a speech or an appearance stuck in somewhere to justify the trip. The data emerged from a nine-month-long review of congressional travel disclosure forms and coincided with ongoing federal investigations of political corruption and efforts to clean up how
Congress does business.Jack Abramoff recently pleaded guilty to fraud charges and has
admitted he paid for golf trips, sports tickets and other gifts in return for votes and support that would help his clients.Congress has responded with a less than overwhelming ethics
measure. A bill passed by the House would require members to obtain prior approval from the House ethics committee before flying on corporate jets or accepting privately funded trips.Trips still may be financed by outside groups to help them learn about issues or to deliver speeches.Firms involved in the study included; Microsoft, Time Warner and The Walt Disney Co., along with the Association of American Railroads.Former House Majority Leader Rep. Tom DeLay and his staff took more money than others, accepting about a half million dollars in
trips during the period under review.
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