From the Desk of Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton:
No Honeymoon for President-Elect Obama
On January 20, 2009, Barack Obama will be sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. Of course, we wish President-elect Obama well as he prepares to assume the presidency, but as far as Judicial Watch is concerned, there will be no honeymoon for the new president. We wouldn’t be doing our job as a watchdog if we snoozed over the next few months while the new president forms his government. Judicial Watch will aim to hold Obama accountable to the rule of law, just as we did with President Bush and former President Clinton.
As Update readers can attest, over the last two years, Judicial Watch has worked hard to expose Barack Obama’s corrupt record when the mainstream media refused to do so. And you can be sure Judicial Watch will continue to pursue all of its ongoing investigations into Obama corruption and will keep a close eye on the Obama administration. We have no intention of allowing Barack Obama to turn the White House into a Chicago-style political operation.
As Barack Obama prepares to assume the presidency, he already brings to the White House a tremendous amount of ethical baggage.
As a product of one of the most corrupt political cultures in America, it should come as no surprise that Obama’s presidential campaign had some of the ethical trimmings of a Chicago ward election. It was marked with enormous corruption issues, ranging from its alliance with the sleazy ACORN operation’s "voter registration" and "get out the vote" efforts to its acceptance of untraceable, and potentially, illegal online contributions. There are also Mr. Obama’s questionable dealings with convicted felon Tony Rezko and unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, his below-market rate mortgage loans, his stock dealings and related "earmark" votes in the U.S. Senate, and his missing or non-existent official papers from his years in the Illinois State Senate.
Barack Obama promised to bring "change" to Washington. To most Americans, Obama was talking about a new spirit of honesty, integrity, and openness. We can hope.
But read on and I’ll tell you a few reasons why Judicial Watch will be needed more than ever during the new Obama administration…
Obama Selects Clinton Crony Rahm Emanuel to be his Chief of Staff
Talk about getting off on the wrong foot! Barack Obama’s first decision as President-Elect, as he tries to make good on his promise to bring "change" to Washington, was to select a veteran Chicago politician and corrupt Clinton attack dog to serve as his Chief of Staff.
Born in Chicago, Congressman Rahm Emanuel served as President Clinton’s chief money man in 1992, a campaign which was corrupted by foreign money. Emanuel then became a Clinton White House aide who misused his position to help cover for the Clinton fundraising and Lewinksy scandals. Emanuel defended the "worst of the worst" Clinton scandals. Indeed, it was his very public role in the Lewinsky scandal that cemented his reputation as Clinton’s fiercest defender and apologist. Emanuel denied the Clinton-Lewinsky affair on national television and later, when there was nothing left to deny, he was put in charge of "managing the situation."
In short, Emanuel attacked and obstructed federal criminal investigations for the despicable Bill Clinton.
Nicknamed "Rahmbo" for his ferociously combative style, Emanual has been described as arrogant, profane and vindictive. According to one story repeated in the London Telegraph, "amid a discussion over a celebratory dinner about which political figures had earned [President Clinton’s] enmity, Mr. Emanuel became so enraged that he grabbed a steak knife, stood up and began reciting a list of names, plunging the knife into the table and shouting ‘Dead! Dead! Dead!’ after each one." (Judicial Watch independently confirmed this story.)
Emanuel turned for a time to investment banking after the Clinton administration, making a fortune for himself (reportedly $18 million in just 3 years). During that time he also served on the board of directors for Freddie Mac, just as the company was involved in fraudulent activity. In 2002, Emanuel returned to politics, but this time as a candidate. He won election to Congress in Illinois’ 5th
So, this is the man Obama has tapped to lead his national campaign for bipartisanship, unity and integrity? A scandal ridden Clinton apologist and former Freddie Mac board member who is best known for his violent and vindictive political style? This is a bad sign folks. The appointment is both scandalous and is likely to lead to more scandal.
To make matters worse, Obama selected another Clinton crony, former Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta (who also covered up and enabled Clinton corruption – from Travelgate to Monicagate), and the Rezko-connected, Chicago fixer Valerie Jarrett to lead his transition team.
Neither Emanuel nor Podesta have the ethical judgement to be anywhere near the Oval Office.
I thought Obama had beat back the corrupt Clinton machine. Now he seems to have embraced it.
Voters Send Corrupt Members of Congress Back to Washington
Last week I told you about a poll sponsored by Judicial Watch and conducted by Zogby International on the issue of corruption. You can click here for the full results, but I just want to point out one statistic: 69.2% of likely voters said they "strongly agree" with the statement that corruption is a "significant problem in Washington, DC," while an additional 22.7% said they "somewhat agree" with that statement. That’s a total of 91.9% of likely voters who believe corruption is a serious problem.
How then, does one explain the fact that voters have seemingly elected to send corrupt politicians such as Louisiana Democratic Rep. William Jefferson and Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens back to Washington?
Just days before the election, on October 27, Senator Stevens was convicted on seven felony counts of illegally accepting $250,000 in gifts and favors and falsifying his Senate financial disclosure forms. Yet, as of the writing of this update, Stevens maintains a slim lead over his Democratic rival, Anchorage Mayor Mark Begich, with about 40,000 absentee ballots left to count. Begich is not expected to be able to make up the difference, though we will know that in a matter of weeks, if not days.
William "Dollar Bill" Jefferson, meanwhile, was victorious in a run-off election held on Tuesday with a general election to be held in December. (The original primary election was delayed due to Hurricane Gustav.) Jefferson is the heavy favorite to win in December and go back to Congress, despite the fact that was nabbed in an FBI sting operation accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes to help broker high-tech business deals in Nigeria. According to press reports, he was caught on tape discussing the deals, while an FBI search of his home uncovered $90,000 in cash stuffed in his freezer.
Other notable corrupt Election Day winners include: John Conyers, who allegedly repeatedly violated House ethics rules by forcing his aides to serve as his personal servants, valets, and as campaign staff while on the government payroll; Charles Rangel, who "forgot" to pay taxes on $75,000 income he received from his rental property in the Dominican Republic; and, of course, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who has been implicated in a suspicious earmark scandal involving her husband and a potentially illegal political advertisement she produced in partnership with Al Gore. Moreover under Pelosi’s leadership (and despite her promises), the House ethics process has shut down.
Voters elect politicians for different reasons and even the most corrupt can retain affection from the majority of their constituents. But that doesn’t mean that Congress (i.e. the rest of us) should be held hostage to a few voters in Alaska or Louisiana who countenance crooks in office. Congress has a responsibility to police its own ethical affairs. Certainly, Stevens and Jefferson, in the least, ought to be shown the door by fellow members.
Until next week…
Tom Fitton President
Judicial Watch is a non-partisan, educational foundation organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue code. Judicial Watch is dedicated to fighting government and judicial corruption and promoting a return to ethics and morality in our nation’s public life. To make a tax-deductible contribution in support of our efforts, click here.