Republicans Said D.C. Can’t Be A State Because It’s Politically Corrupt, So This Democrat Made a Bulleted List of Corruption In Those Republicans’ States
WASHINGTON — As the issue of D.C. statehood was debated on the floor for the first time in decades, House Republicans — and especially those from the Committee on Oversight and Reform — made the case that the District just isn’t ready for representation.
Over the last several weeks, Republicans from the House Committee on Oversight and Reform filed various letters urging an expansion to the investigation of the disgraced Democrat councilmember, generating a storm of publicity around the laundry-list of ethics violations the former WMATA Board Chairman is facing.
The most recent of these letters called for Reps. Cummings and Meadows to invite Evans to testify at yesterday’s D.C. statehood hearing, arguing that:
“Under H.R. 51, the proposed legislation to provide a pathway for DC to become a state, DC’s current legislative officials would be elevated to corresponding positions in a state government. In other words, H.R. 51, if signed into law, would elevate Evans to the position of state legislator. In light of allegations that Evans exploited his official position with the DC government to engage in self-dealing for personal financial gain, Members must fully understand the nature and extent of Evans’s action to properly assess and consider H.R. 51.”
“The theory is that if there is one political corruption investigation taking place in a jurisdiction, we should disenfranchise the entire community,” explained Rep. Raskin, a Democrat on the same committee. “That’s just laughably absurd. It’s like saying the people of New York City should be disenfranchised because the president has been pocketing foreign emoluments since the first day he took office, you know?”
Ward 4 DCDSC Committeeman Todd Brogan has another term for it: “Total bullshit.”
“The Republicans making [Evans] an issue is ridiculous,” Brogan says. “They have no standing to critique any of our officials. Anyone paying attention to the statehood fight recently or over the decades knew that this was going to happen. Republicans are opportunistic, and a comically, cartoonishly corrupt official is the perfect opportunity for them. Evans trying to represent our city on a local or national level is feeding into an old Republican playbook.”
In other words, Brogan says, “Republicans gonna Republican.”
“My understanding is that they are trying to get the majority to subpoena him to come and be a witness,” Raskin predicted, a theory backed up by the hashtag #SubpoenaEvans tacked onto the end of tweets covering the hearing from @GOPoversight, and then later an official Republican Motion filed to do just that. “We have no intention to comply.”
In fact, while Republicans were busy compiling a list of examples of political corruption in the District throughout history (some of which were read in Rep. Jordan’s opening remarks), Rep. Raskin was making his own list.
“I’ve spent some time today collecting recent or contemporaneous episodes of political corruption in the districts and states of all the Republicans on the committee,” Raskin told HuffPo Wednesday night.
Raskin’s list, including sources, is published in its entirety below.
But neither he nor Brogan think the Republican strategy of pointing fingers at corrupt D.C. politicians is bound to be a winning one.
“The whole logic of the GOP argument cuts against our notions of democracy and due process,” explains Raskin. “We don’t believe in mass guilt and collective punishment. We don’t punish entire communities because of the sins of individual people.”
“All of this is a game for them. They’re going to fish around for any stupid reason to embarrass D.C.,” Brogan says. “Republicans don’t care an ounce about statehood. They’re full of shit. I don’t think it’s going to work. [Statehood is] not just a possibility, but an imminent reality.”
“Republicans should either support statehood, or stay the hell out of D.C. affairs.”
Evans was brought up a number of times during the debate, and Rep. Jordan asked specifically why he was absent from the proceedings and whether or not he supports D.C. statehood (he does).
“Obviously their whole strategy for undermining statehood is an irrelevant distraction from the real democratic imperative here,” says Raskin. “The United States is the only democratic nation on earth where the citizens living in the capital city are disenfranchised in the national legislature. The democratic imperative is to bring 700,0000 American citizens up to the level of equal political citizenship.”
The motion to subpoena Evans failed. Still, D.C. statehood has always been, and remains, an uphill battle.
Even if the bill passes out of the House, its next destination is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel’s desk, where it joins a pile of others including gun legislation, prescription drug reform, and democracy reform.
“Nothing is getting through the Senate,” Raskin says, “and of course Donald Trump is not much one for understanding general democratic principles. Nonetheless, it’s the first hearing in several decades. Let’s hope this heralds some real progress soon. The darkest moments come right before the dawn.
Rep. Jamie Raskin’s Examples of Political Corruption in States
OHIO (Jordan, Gibbs)
- A former Dayton city commissioner and a current city official are facing federal charges of fraud and public corruption, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cincinnati. Joey Williams, who served as elected city commissioner from 2001 until 2018 is charged with bribery as a government official. Roshawn Winburn, current Director of Dayton’s Minority Business Assistance Center, is charged with wire fraud and public corruption. Williams is accused of accepting more than $50,000 in free benefits from a contractor in exchange for influencing the awarding of city contracts to that individual’s business. Winburn devised a scheme “through bribery and the concealment of material facts and information regarding minority-owned, woman-owned and small disadvantaged businesses,” U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said in a release. WCPO
- In 2016, Jayme Valenzuela, mayor of the Town of Superior was already facing a recall election stemming from allegations of misusing public funds when he was indicted on a charge of felony theft. In December 2015, an auditor hired by the mining town east of Phoenix announced that she’d discovered that the mayor had made a number of unauthorized cash withdrawals from a town credit card. An investigation later showed he withdrew $2,300 total during 2013 and 2014 from ATMs, including one at a casino. He later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft. Phoenix New Times
NORTH CAROLINA (Foxx, Meadows)
- The chairman of the North Carolina Republican Party and one of the state’s leading political donors together sought to use campaign contributions to bribe the state’s insurance commissioner, federal prosecutors said in an indictment that was unsealed in April. “These men crossed the line from fund-raising to felonies when they devised a plan to use their connections to a political party to attempt to influence the operations and policies of the North Carolina Department of Insurance,” said John A. Strong, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I. office in Charlotte, N.C. New York Times
- For years, North Carolina officials mismanaged the White Oak Dike that breached during Hurricane Florence, flooding a small town where hundreds had to be rescued, Emily Featherston and Alex Guarino reported. WECT
- A North Carolina Board of Education official resigned after sending a racist text about one member to another, Fran Daniel and John Hinton reported. WINSTON-SALEM JOURNAL
KENTUCKY (Massie, Comer)
- Tim Longmeyer a Jefferson County prosecutor and Democratic Party activist whose career as a high-level state government official came crashing down in 2016 with a bribery conviction, was sentenced to serve 70 months in federal prison. Also wrapped up in that scandal was the Democratic Governor whose former state personnel secretary head off to prison for accepting bribes. Courier Journal
- A couple of Georgia politicians have recently come under fire for corrupt practices. Former State Senator and gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams has pled guilty to insurance fraud, false reporting of a crime and making a false statement to police. In a similar incident, a federal grand jury charged Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck with fraud, prompting Governor Kemp to rightly call for his resignation. The Red & Black
TEXAS (Roy, Cloud)
- In 2016, a federal grand jury indicted Crystal City Mayor Ricardo Lopez, the city manager and two councilmen — among others — on public corruption charges. Investigators accused Lopez, Councilman Rogelio Mata, Councilman Roel Mata and former Councilman Gilbert Urrabazo — along with City Manager William J. Jonas III — of soliciting bribes from eight-liner establishments and city contractors. In 2017, a jury convicted Lopez and James Jonas, the former city manager and attorney for the city, of bribery, wire fraud, and conspiracy. My San Antonio
- State House Speaker Glen Casada was forced to resign after being embroiled in a series of political scandals. In May 2019, several scandals broke out in regards to the operations inside of the speaker’s office from several investigations that were conducted by WTVF, a local television station. Among the findings were that Casada hired Michael Lotfi, a political operative, on the House payroll, but did not have to report to work daily. He was only required to come “when needed.” Lotfi was tasked with spinning a story to make Rep. David Byrd’s sexual assault accusers look like they were fabricating their story. Additionally, the FBI opened an investigation on the controversial vote on Educational Savings Accounts (School Vouchers). Members of the House of Representatives noticed there were additional “Research Analysts” hired, but they were assigned to be “hall monitors” and track certain members of the body. Shawn Hatmaker was confirmed to be one of the “hall monitors” and was relieved of his duties Additionally, Casada’s chief of staff resigned after reports surfaced that he had solicited sex in text messages to interns and lobbyists, and used illegal drugs in the legislative office building. Tennessean and Wikipedia
SOUTH CAROLINA (Norman)
- South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson undermined a Statehouse corruption probe that targeted a powerhouse family of political operatives, people with whom he had a “problematic relationship,” a State Grand Jury report said in 2018. The grand jury found that Wilson, the state’s chief prosecutor, impeded its investigation into “pay-for-influence” schemes while he continued working with one of its chief targets — veteran consultant Richard Quinn. Post & Courier
- A U.S. Congressman from Louisiana -Dr. Ralph Abraham — quietly accepted his $174,000 salary despite his campaign promise that he would deny any government pay, Tyler Bridges reported. THE ADVOCATE
- To help operate public housing in parts of Louisiana, an embattled housing authority selected a firm with its own checkered past and ties to a corruption case in another state=. LAFAYETTE DAILY ADVERTISER
WEST VIRGINIA (Miller)
- Over the summer, West Virginia’s House of Delegates moved to impeach all four remaining justices of the state’s high court for their lavish, self-indulgent expenditures of taxpayer funds reflects a similar dynamic. In West Virginia, Justice Robin Davis spent an absurd $500,278.23 in taxpayer dollars on renovating her office alone. Mind you, Davis is the same jurist who, through her husband, sold a $1.3 million Lear Jet to an attorney trying a multimillion case before her and never disclosed the deal. NBC THINK
NORTH DAKOTA (Armstrong
- North Dakota Republican William Langer had a colorful political career for decades before he entered the United States Senate. From 1916 to 1920, he served as the state’s attorney general, fiercely enforcing Prohibition. During those years, he had led a posse against illegal liquor stores, commandeered telephone lines during a vice raid, censured 275 North Dakota schools for failing to display the American flag, been blamed for the suicide of a former attorney general, and escaped impeachment by one vote. A vigorous champion of the North Dakota farmers, Langer enjoyed immense popularity and in 1932 won the governorship. In 1934, following conviction on charges of political corruption, he was removed from office, but after a reversal on appeal and two new trials, he was exonerated and again elected governor. In 1940 Langer won a seat in the United States Senate. Senate Historian
- In 2018, two former prosecutors in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office were charged with trying to cover up why one had inexplicably dismissed a case against a man who had injured a Fox Point police officer. Antoni Apollo, 36, once a rising star in the homicide unit of the district attorney’s office, and Kristin Schrank, 33, a sensitive-crimes prosecutor until her resignation in October, each face misdemeanor counts of attempted misconduct in office by using discretion in a way inconsistent with duties. Each is charged as a party to a crime. Journal Sentinel
- A democratic Florida state senator steered $1 million of the state’s budget toward his wife’s employer, Mark Puente reported. TAMPA BAY TIMES
- In 2019, Scott Maddox, a Former Tallahassee City Commissioner who wielded great power and influence at City Hall for decades, pleaded guilty in a federal public corruption investigation that began more than three years ago and appears anything but over. Maddox, along with a former aide, Paige Carter-Smith, entered guilty pleas Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Tallahassee in a plea agreement with federal prosecutors. As part of the deal, most of the charges against them in a 48-count indictment were dropped in exchange for guilty pleas to three counts: honest services wire fraud, honest services mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Tallahassee.com