Will House Republicans Vote for Reform?
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Today House Republicans will vote for a new Majority Leader to replace Representative Tom DeLay who stepped down weeks ago as a result of his indictment last year and his ethical troubles resulting from connections to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff. The three Republican members of Congress running for Majority Leader are Representatives Roy Blunt (MO), John Boehner (OH), and John Shadegg (AZ). Conservative bloggers have resoundingly opined that Roy Blunt is the worst choice Republicans can make if they are at all concerned with erasing the image that they are a party of corruption.
Jon Henke of QandO writes:
The current front-runner is Rep. Roy Blunt, who claims to be confident that he has the votes to win the position – though not, apparently, confident enough to give up his role as Majority Whip. His ascension seemed almost a fait accompli until January 19th, when all three candidates participated in conference calls with bloggers. While Blunt’s opponents, Shadegg and Boehner, were fairly well received by the bloggers, Roy Blunt was, to put it mildly, not. After the call, a virtually unanimous right side of the blogosphere rushed to ask why Tom DeLay was being replaced by what appeared to be an exact duplicate: a status quo Beltway Republican, the “House GOP’s key liaison” to the “K Street Committee”, and owner of more than a few connections to the politically radioactive Jack Abramoff.
A harsher indictment of Blunt comes from a writer from Redstate: “The other major contender is Roy Blunt of Missouri, the acting majority leader. Mr. Blunt, likewise an establishment Republican, left his wife of 30 years for the loving embrace of a K Street lobbyist, a tobacco lobbyist no less.”
The consensus opinion seems to be that Blunt would be less effective at implementing much needed ethical reforms because of his close connections with Tom DeLay, which leaves Boehner and Shadegg as the only two options for reform. Though conservatives are happy that Boehner has never placed an earmark in a bill, his ethics have also been questioned. Consider this New York Times piece on May 10, 1996, where Bob Herbert reported:
Mr. Boehner took it upon himself to begin handing out money from tobacco lobbyists to certain of his colleagues on the House floor. He was not deterred by the fact that the House was in session, and that he was supposed to be attending to the nation’s business. He was not constrained by any sense that passing money around the floor of the House of Representatives was a sacrilege. He had the checks and he dispensed them.
With Blunt and Boehner’s ties to lobbyists and questionable ethics, John Shadegg may be in the best position to implement reform, and revise the “culture of corruption” that pervades both political parties in Washington.