There Is a Culture of Corruption in the GOP

Everyone charged, indicted, arrested and convicted in corruption scandals involving Jack Abramoff has been a Republican. By the end of the scandal, the same will be true. Jack Abramoff was a Republican lobbyist. He had more than 450 contacts with the Bush White House. Every single dollar Abramoff personally raised or donated went to Republicans.

Now, in a desperate attempt to smear the Democratic Party so that voters will be confused into thinking the scandal is bipartisan, there are "sources" who say that Abramoff is talking about clients who also contributed to Democrats. Really? You don't say. There were lobbying interests in D.C. who thought it might be smart to lobby both parties? What a shocker!

The question isn't whether some Abramoff clients thought it was wise to lobby some Democrats along with the great majority of Republicans they usually relied on. The question is what part of that was illegal? Remember, Abramoff is already in jail and Rep. Bob Ney, R-Ohio, is headed there because they both did something illegal.

Lobbying isn't illegal. Taking money for favors is illegal. Now, in order to put out misleading headlines, people have attached the name of the Senate Democratic leader to Abramoff, saying Harry Reid took money from his clients. Do you know how many members of Congress have received campaign contributions from lobbyists? 535. Every single one.

The charge against Harry Reid is that he took money from Indian gaming interests who were trying to prevent another casino from opening up in another state. Gee, I wonder why a senator from Nevada might be interested in blocking more casinos from other states. Hold the presses -- they got him. The Nevada senator was trying to protect the casinos in his home state! I would have never guessed.

What part of this is illegal? And what part of using the press to smear your opponents doesn't the mainstream media understand?

Earlier in the year, The Associated Press ran a story about Harry Reid being lobbied by Abramoff's clients to vote against a minimum wage increase in the Northern Mariana Islands. The part they forgot to mention was that Harry Reid voted for the minimum wage increase! Unlike the Republicans, there was no quid pro quo. In fact, Reid co-sponsored the bill to increase the minimum wage on the islands against the interests of Abramoff's clients. They got him!

Cenk Ugyur is a host for Air America Radio.

The press has been hoodwinked by the right into thinking that it has to be neutral about every story. That is not their job. Their job is to be objective. There is a world of difference between neutrality and objectivity. Neutrality indicates that the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears both played well last Sunday night, and both teams are just as good. Objectivity indicates that the Chicago Bears beat the New York Giants 38-20.

Give us the facts, not some fake neutral version of the facts. Everyone accused of doing something illegal in the Jack Abramoff case is a Republican. Not a single Democrat took a dime from Abramoff. The Democrats who received campaign contributions from lobbyists did so entirely legally. The score is 38-0 in this game.

Finally, has there been corruption in both parties historically? Of course! No party is immune from corruption. But we're not talking about ancient history here. We're not talking about the 1860s, the 1960s or the 1560s. We're talking about which party is more corrupt now. And the answer to that question is indisputable. The Republican Party.

To even imply otherwise is awful journalism. It is the kind of journalism that obscures the facts to try to placate certain bellicose political interests. Are there instances of corruption in the Democratic Party now? Absolutely. I don't think it was the tooth fairy that put $90,000 in cash in William Jefferson's freezer. But while there might be isolated instances of corruption among the Democrats, it is the Republican Party that has instituted, condoned and covered up a culture of corruption.

In a culture of corruption, it is accepted that you receive money, favors, dinners and trips in exchange for votes. And when leadership finds out about it, those in charge help to cover it up for you. They even started the K Street Project to make sure they could corner the market on lobbyists.

Corruption within the Republican Party isn't the case of a few bad apples. It is the case of a party that deliberately set up questionable relationships with lobbyists in order to protect their source of money and power. So, when that system went awry and started funneling money to elected officials in ways that were illegal, it was a surprise to no one. And until the Justice Department stepped in, it was also a concern to no one.

Cenk Ugyur is a host for Air America Radio. Ultimately, any effort to link Democrats to the culture of corruption set up and maintained by the Republican Party is not only factually incorrect but also dangerously misleading. It plays into the hands of the same people who are looking to shift and avoid responsibility for all the corruption that we are now plagued with. Press outlets should be more careful to avoid helping in that process of obfuscation and blame shifting.

Cenk Ugyur is a host for Air America Radio.