Conservative Controversies & Scandals
Historical Republican Corruption Scandals (Before 2014)
Alaskan Republican State Senator John Cowdery was indicted on conspiracy and bribery charges stemming from FBI wiretaps. Cowdery is accused of scheming with Veco Corp. executives to buy the vote of another senator in the battle for an oil tax favored by North Slope oil producers. Cowdery pleaded guilty and sentenced to 6 months of home confinement and a fine of $25,000.
Jerry Lewis is under investigation for his ties to lobbyist and former congressman Bill Lowery. The investigation is reportedly an extension of the Duke Cunningham investigation.
Lott's brother-in-law, Richard Scruggs, was indicted on charges of offering a $40,000 bribe to a Mississippi state judge. Scruggs represented Lott and Representative Gene Taylor in settlements with State Farm after the insurer refused to pay claims for the loss of their Mississippi homes in Hurricane Katrina. Lott and Taylor had pushed through federal legislation to investigate claims with State Farm and other insurers, a conflict of interest. On July 30, 2008, during a deposition related to the Katrina claims, Zach Scruggs was asked by State Farm Fire & Casualty Cos. attorney Jim Robie, "Has it been your custom and habit in prosecuting litigation to have Senator Lott contact and encourage witnesses to give false information?" Zach Scruggs invoked the fifth.
In 2007 it was revealed that Stevens had remodeled his house which was paid for by the oil-field service company VECO. The FBI and IRS opened an investigation. By July of 2008, Stevens was indicted on seven counts of failure to report gifts and found guilty at a trial 3 months later. The conviction was later voided for misconduct on the part of the prosecutors and the indictments against Stevens were dismissed
Grover Norquist has been implemented Indian casino lobbying scandal where an estimated $85 million in fees were overcharged and used for illegal gifts. Abramoff and Scanlon grossly overbilled their clients, secretly splitting the multimillion-dollar profits. In one case, they were secretly orchestrating lobbying against their own clients in order to force them to pay for lobbying services. Norquist has denied any wrong doing and has yet to be charged with any crime.
Jim Gibbons earmarked several millions of dollars to a company owned by Warren Trepp. Trepp had reportedly purchased cruises and other gifts including $100,000, gambling chips and cash, for Gibbons and his wife that Gibbons failed to report in his ethics filings. An investigation has been launched into the bribery allegations.
On December 23, 2004, Rowland pleaded guilty to depriving the public of honest service. Rowland was sentenced on March 18, 2005, in New Haven, Connecticut, to one year and one day in prison, four months house arrest, three years probation and community service. On April 1, 2005, he entered Federal Correctional Institution, Loretto, in Pennsylvania. His federal inmate number was 15623-014.
The Jerry Lewis – Lowery lobbying firm controversy stems from the relationship between Congressman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and a lobbying firm, known as Copeland Lowery Jacquez Denton & White, where good friend and former U.S. Congressman Bill Lowery was a partner from 1993 to 2006. The basic allegations are that Lewis, by virtue of his chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee (since January 2005), and his prior chairmanship of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, was able, through earmarks and other methods, to steer hundreds of millions of dollars to clients of Lowery's firm. Lowery and his firm have earned millions of dollars in fees from these clients.
Abramoff and his partner, conspired to overcharge Indian Casinos $85 million in fees. Lobbyists also worked to lobby against their own clients in order to inflate hours. On January 3, 2006, Abramoff pleaded guilty to three felony counts: conspiracy, fraud, and tax evasion. He now owes $1.7 million in back taxes as part of the guilty plea. He must also pay $25 million is restitution to the people and entities that he defrauded.
In 2006, Ney and his aides were implemented in the Abramoff Indian scandal. Neil Volz, one of Ney's top aides plead guilty to conspiring to corrupt officials by violating lobbying laws. Volz claimed that Ney had been accepting gifts from Abramoff including tickets to sporting events and numerous meals at Abramoff's restaurant. In return Ney would try and write language into bills to promote Abramoff's agenda. Ney resigned from the House of Representatives on November 3, 2006. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He was released on August 15, 2008 after serving 17 months
Tom DeLay, a Republican U.S. Representative from Texas from 1979 to 1983 and from 1985 to 2006 and the House Majority Leader from 2003 to 2005, was convicted in 2010 of money laundering and conspiracy charges related to illegal campaign finance activities aimed at helping Republican candidates for Texas state office in the 2002 elections.
The Cunningham scandal is a U.S. political scandal in which defense contractors paid bribes to members of Congress and officials in the U.S. Defense Department, in return for political favors in the form of federal contracts. Most notable amongst the recipients of the bribes was California Congressman Duke Cunningham who pled guilty to receiving over $2.3 million in bribes. The primary defense contractors were Mitchell Wade (owner of MZM) and Brent R. Wilkes (owner of ADCS Inc.).
After a decade long investigation, George Ryan was charged with 22-counts of federal indictment. The charges included racketeering, bribery, extortion, money laundering and tax fraud. The indictment alleged that Ryan steered several state contracts to Warner and other friends; disbursed campaign funds to relatives and to pay personal expenses; and obstructed justice by attempting to end the state investigation of the license-for-bribes scandal. He was charged with lying to investigators and accepting cash, gifts and loans in return for his official actions as governor. On April 17th, 2006, after months of a trial, Ryan was found guilty on all counts. Ultimately, he was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in minimum security prison.
Jack Abramoff was hired by the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to lobby to maintain the CMNI's exemption from federal minimum wage and immigration laws. In testimony before the Senate, it was described that 91% of the private-sector workforce were immigrants, and were being paid barely half the U.S. minimum hourly wage. Stories also emerged of workers forced to live behind barbed wire in squalid shacks without plumbing. A Department of the Interior report found that "Chinese women were subject to forced abortions and that women and children were subject to forced prostitution in the local sex-tourism industry." Abramoff flew congressmen to CMNI, sometimes as an illegal gift in an effort to conceal the harsh conditions.
McCain became enmeshed in a scandal during the 1980s as one of five United States Senators comprising the so-called Keating Five. Between 1982 and 1987, McCain had received $112,000 in lawful political contributions from Charles Keating Jr. and his associates at Lincoln Savings and Loan Association, along with trips on Keating's jets that McCain belatedly repaid in 1989. In 1987, McCain was one of the five senators whom Keating contacted in order to prevent the government's seizure of Lincoln, and McCain met twice with federal regulators to discuss the government's investigation of Lincoln.