Some years ago, Congress passed legislation giving the government far-reaching powers to battle organized crime. The law is known as RICO, for Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. RICO has often been used to harass people on a mere suspicion of wrongdoing that has nothing to do with “organized crime.”
Well, now a new kind of “organized crime” is bringing RICO full circle. The criminal enterprise being investigated? Congress itself. Sounds like an open-and-shut case. Are congressmen really racketeers? Democrat Patrick Kennedy is using RICO to sue Republican Tom DeLay for scheming to “extort political contributions from individuals and entities with interests before Congress . . .” Ouch. That’s a new one. Career politicians bullying folks for contributions? Somebody hand me the smelling salts.
And now Republicans are scouring public records to unearth fundraising shakedowns by Democrats. No one in official Washington seems too shocked by the charge that top-ranking Republicans are racketeers or for that matter, that so are Democrats. Polls show most Americans believe congressmen are more likely to use their power to “help friends and hurt enemies” than to achieve a “fair result.”
The Washington Post editorialized, “. . . both parties could be said to ‘extort’ money from business, with varying degrees of crudeness. Success against Mr. DeLay would therefore trigger a barrage of copycat litigation.”
By all means, let’s put a stop to this before the entire Congress gets carted off to the hoosegow. On second thought, where’s Janet Reno when you really need her?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.