Law breaking by those who make the laws destroys respect for the rule of law. That’s why President Clinton’s perjury hurt our country as have the congressional scandals of Dan Rostenkowski, Bob Packwood, Wilbur Mills and a long list of powerful career politicians. Rostenkowski spent time in prison, but too often elected officials get away with it. Congress regularly turns the other cheek to misconduct.
Take the case of Transportation Committee Chairman Bud Schuster. Schuster is the king of pork barrel. He’s grabbed our tax dollars to build a highway in his district and, with all the humility and class of our political aristocracy, he has named it after himself. And there’s his $40,000 portrait hanging in the Transportation Committee room. An ethics investigation into Schuster’s relationship with a lobbyist who both represents clients with business before Schuster’s committee and who works for Schuster’s campaign found that Schuster, “engaged in serious official misconduct.”
Voters in Schuster’s Pennsylvania district don’t have much choice. Usually Schuster has been unopposed, like this year, and in ’98, ’94, ’92, ’90, ’88, ’86, etc. In 1996, Schuster outspent a rare challenger by better than 10 to 1. So what happens to Schuster? Nothing. Oh, the ethics committee sent him a letter saying he undermined the credibility of Congress quite an achievement. But he remains a powerful member of that body. He gets away with it.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.