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Week of 8.25.06

Profiles: Allegations of Ethical Misconduct

Senator Conrad Burns Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT) is chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, giving him jurisdiction over all the country's federal lands as well as the budget of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) alleges that Burns accepted campaign contributions in apparent exchange for exercising his authority as Chairman of the Subcommittee. CREW alleges that Burns' campaign committees received lofty contributions from the disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his tribal clients. CREW says Sen. Burns received more money from Mr. Abramoff than did any other Member of Congress. They also allege that Burns applied pressure to the Interior Department to direct a $3 million federal grant to one of Jack Abramoff's clients. Burns denies the allegations against him.

For more allegations against Rep. Burns, see:
CREW - Beyond Delay, Public Citizen - Hall of Shame

Representative William Jefferson Rep. William Jefferson (D-LA) has been accused of using his position to promote the sale of telecommunications equipment and services offered by iGate, a Kentucky-based firm that sought contracts with African nations, and of soliciting bribes in return. Rep. Jefferson's Washington office was raided by the FBI amid a federal bribery investigation into his dealings last year. The FBI said it found $90,000 stashed in a freezer in his home. According to the Associated Press, the FBI claims it has videotaped evidence of Jefferson accepting bribe money. Two men have been convicted as part of the scandal, but Jefferson has not been charged with a crime and has denied any wrongdoing. A federal appeals court has temporarily delayed the bribery investigation while Jefferson challenges the legality of the FBI raid on his office. Due to the investigation, Jefferson was stripped of his seat on the Ways and Means Committee.

For more allegations against Rep. Jefferson, see:
CREW - Beyond Delay, Public Citizen - Hall of Shame

Representative Jerry Lewis Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA), chair of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is under investigation for his close relationship with a former colleague and top lobbyist, Bill Lowery. Federal prosecutors are focusing on Lowery clients who have received tens of millions of dollars for projects detailed in annual spending bills put forth by committees Lewis chaired. Lowery and his associates have been top donors to Lewis' campaigns. Neither men have been charged with any crime and both denied wrongdoing.

For more on the allegations against Rep. Lewis, see:
CREW - Beyond Delay, A Steady Flow of Financial Influence

Representative Alan B. Mollohan Rep. Alan B. Mollohan (D-W. Va.), a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, is under federal investigation, which began after the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), a watchdog group, reported that Mollohan's assets grew by at least $6.1 million between 2000 and 2004. The inquiry began after the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC), a watchdog group, reported that Mollohan's assets grew by at least $6.1 million between 2000 and 2004. The NLPC alleges that Mollohan engaged in nine years of false reporting. The group also accuses Mollohan of earmarking tens of millions of dollars to groups associated with his business partners. Mollohan, who resigned from his position as the ranking Democrat on the House ethics committee after the investigation began, has acknowledged that he misstated more than a dozen transactions on his financial disclosure. But he strongly denies that he improperly benefited from his office.

For more allegations against Rep. Mollohan, see: CREW - Beyond Delay, National Legal and Policy Center

Representative Richard Pombo Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), Chairman of the House Resources Committee, has come under fire for, among other charges, allegedly using his position to benefit his family. CREW alleges that Pombo's aides attempted to scuttle an environmental regulation that could have hurt the Pombo family's business. Other alleged ethics violations include: accepting campaign contributions in return for legislative assistance, keeping family members on his campaign payroll, and misusing official resources. The Center for Public Integrity has said Rep. Pombo may have broken the law by not paying taxes on foreign trips paid for by a private foundation. Pombo has steadfastly maintained that he has done nothing illegal or unethical.

For more allegations against Pombo, see: CREW - Beyond Delay, Public Citizen - Hall of Shame, The Center for Public Integrity

Representative Charles Taylor Rep. Charles Taylor (R-N.C.) is alleged to have engaged in the crimes of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, bribery and honest services fraud by CREW. The conspiracy allegations stem from a 2001 bank fraud guilty plea made by Rep. Taylor's long-time friend and political supporter, Charles Cagle. Cagle illegally borrowed $1.3 million from Rep. Taylor's bank, Blue Ridge Savings and Loan. Both Cagle and the bank's former president testified that Rep. Taylor was involved in making the fraudulent loans, according to the Associated Press. State Democrats have also called for congressional ethics and conflict of interest investigations into Taylor's banking activities and links to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, the AP reported.

For more allegations against Taylor, see: CREW - Beyond Delay

These Congressmen are just a few of the political representatives facing myriad ethics questions. They are not alone. For a detailed look at the many standing allegations, visit CREW's website Beyond Delay which is devoted to allegations of corruption in Congress.