Conservative Controversies & Scandals
2014 Major Republican Abuse of Power Scandals
Representative Don Young has been ordered to repay $60,000 in illegally spent campaign donations he received over a period of twelve years. Young was found to have violated House ethics rules by illegally using campaign funds to go on fifteen trips to hunting lodges during that time. The Ethics Committee found that Young used more than $30,000 of his own campaigns funds and $28,000 in gifts he failed to disclose in his annual financial disclosures.
Federal investigators are looking into whether Governor Chris Christie's administration committed securities law violations by spending nearly $2 billion of Port Authority funds on a state owned bridge. It is illegal to spend Port Authority funds on state owned infrastructure, but the Christie administration lobbied heavily to classify the bridge as an access road to the Lincoln Tunnel even though they are not connected. Investigators are attempting to determine if Governor Christie violated the Martin Act, which enables the state of New York to file suit if they feel Christie intentionally misled bond holders.
Bobby Harrell is trying to shut down the Grand Jury investigating him for corruption by trying to get the case moved to the House Ethics Committee. Ethics advocates say "The House Ethics Committee is nothing but a fraud," said John Crangle, who leads Common Cause South Carolina, in an interview with The Huffington Post. "It's never done anything. To send it to the House Ethics Committee is basically to deep-six it, which is exactly what Harrell would like to do."
A judge seated a grand jury in Austin last week to consider whether Texas Governor Rick Perry, who is weighing another run for the White House, abused his power when he carried out a threat to veto $7.5 million in state funding for public corruption prosecutors last summer. Aides to Perry say he legally exercised his veto power. Others say Perry was abusing his state office and is finally getting his comeuppance. The grand jury is impaneled for three months. In the original complaint, McDonald accused Perry of breaking laws related to coercion of a public servant and abuse of official capacity.
Shortly after his election, Governor Christie appointed two of his friends and political donors, John and Mary Kay Strangfeld, to the typically ceremonial positions of chairman and vice chairman at the Drumthwacket Foundation, a nonprofit that has restored and maintains the New Jersey Governors mansion. John Strangfeld is also the chairman of the insurance agency Prudential, a company that received a record-setting $250 million dollar tax incentive to move its Newark headquarters only a few blocks down the street. The number averages out to the taxpayers spending $527,000 per job that was created in the handout.
Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the number four Republican in House leadership, is facing a House Ethics Committee investigation over allegations that she illegally combined campaign and Congressional funds to help her win her 2012 House leadership race. The Office Of Congressional Ethics recommended that the House Ethics Committee conduct a full investigation into the allegations and the committee reported that they will begin their preliminary investigation into the matter.
The state Ethics Commission has approved Governor Chris Christie's recommendation of Susana Espasa Guerrero, a longtime loyalist and former employee of the Governor, to head the ethics panel that will investigate the bridge closure scandal the Governor finds himself in. Ms. Guerrero has also worked with every single individual who has been subpoenaed in the case.
A former prosecutor in New Jersey has come forward to claim that he was fired after refusing to drop a criminal case against a friend of Governor Chris Christie. Ben Barlyn, the former prosecutor in question, claimed that he was fired shortly after filing multiple charges against Republican Sheriff Deborah Trout. He was replaced with a Christie ally that quickly dropped the charges. Mr. Barlyn has petitioned the state Attorney General's office to release grand jury testimony that he says will back up his accusations.
The Administration of Chris Christie has been accused of withholding millions of Sandy emergency relief funds for a New Jersey town that refused to approve a massive redevelopment plan that the governor favored. The mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey, claimed that Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, who is Governor Christie’s community affairs commissioner spoke on behalf of the Governor in making the demand. While the two officials in question have denied the allegations, recently released documents seem to say otherwise. Dawn Zimmer, who is the mayor, also said that she will be happy to speak under oath and take a lie detector in order to prove her claims.