JULY 08, 2008
Amid unprecedented amounts of legal scandals and corruption probes, congressional approval has fallen to single digits for the first time in history, according to a national poll released this week.
Earlier this year a separate poll revealed that a 14% confidence rating in the nation’s federal lawmaking bodies was the lowest ever, but this week’s data demonstrates a further dip from that bad rating. Only 9% of Americans believe Congress is doing a good job, a shameful indicator of the diminished confidence among the people members are supposed to serve.
Congress’s highest rating of 40% came during the Watergate era in the late 1970s and again in 1986. That’s a far cry from more recent ratings, especially in the last few years which have been rocked by a series of bipartisan scandals, corruption investigations and widespread allegations of unethical behavior.
Highlights include a Republican California Congressman (Randy Duke Cunningham) serving eight years in prison for taking more than $2.4 million in bribes from defense contractors, a Republican Ohio Congressman (Bob Ney) jailed for taking bribes in the mega corruption scheme involving convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and an Ohio Democrat (James Traficant) sentenced to eight years for racketeering and accepting bribes.
Who could forget the nine-term Congressman (William Jefferson) federally indicted for accepting hundreds of thousands of bribes over the years? The Louisiana Democrat was actually caught in the act by federal agents who video taped him accepting a bag full of cash. They later found $90,000 of the money—wrapped in foil—stashed in the freezer of his home. His trial is scheduled for some time this year.
Then there’s the infamous first female Speaker of the House (Nancy Pelosi) who secretly inserted a last-minute provision into a multi billion-dollar redevelopment bill that benefited her husband financially. There was also the matter of her highly publicized, taxpayer-financed lavish jet to ferry her and her entourage from coast-to-coast even though she claims to be a green-minded environmentalist.
Pelosi’s California pal in the Senate, Democrat Dianne Feinstein, was forced to resign as chair of a powerful military construction committee after she was exposed for abusing her position to award her rich husband’s companies billions of dollars in government contracts.
The list goes on and on and Americans are taking note. That’s why 72% of those polled said they think most members of Congress are more interested in furthering their own political careers. That seems to be quite the understatement.
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