Patterico's Pontifications

11/15/2006

The Corruption-Fighting Party Turns to Alcee Hastings and Murtha

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 12:01 am



John “Grandpa Simpson” Murtha is set to be tapped as the House Majority Leader. He has some ethical issues, including a history of being investigated in Abscam. In that investigation, he obliquely discussed with an undercover investigator the possibility that he might accept bribes in the future, once the investigator provided him sufficient political cover. But more about that in a moment.

And Alcee Hastings looks like the pick for the House Intelligence Committee. He was impeached and removed from his position as a federal judge for bribery. Now we’re putting him in charge of national secrets. No bribery potential there!

This is all terrible for the country — but it’s great for Republicans.

Politically speaking, I couldn’t have scripted this better. Corruption was the top issue for disgruntled voters, so Nancy Pelosi is turning to these guys.

Perfect.

More about Grandpa Simpson in the extended entry.

I watched the Murtha Abscam tape last night. I followed a set of links; the jumping-off point was a post by See Dubya at the Junkyard Blog, which took me to WuzzaDem, and beyond. Watch the whole video here. Read an analysis here. And read the transcript here.

Naturally, the papers summarize it differently. Here’s how the L.A. Times puts it:

Some argued that by publicly siding with Murtha, Pelosi could undercut one of her boldest pronouncements in the wake of her party’s victory — that they would run “the most honest, the most open and the most ethical Congress in history.”

These critics point to Murtha’s brush with the law in the 1980s, when he was investigated in connection with the Abscam bribery scandal on Capitol Hill. He was cleared in that probe, but some watchdog groups have continued to question his ethics.

And here’s how a much better paper — the Washington Post — puts it:

As for the Abscam case, Murtha was not indicted and his conduct was cleared by the House ethics committee, but he did meet with FBI agents posing as Arab sheiks and, after refusing bribes on several occasions, appeared to leave open the possibility of doing business later.

A little more balanced. And a little more accurate.

Let’s look at the nitty-gritty facts on the tape.

Basically, the FBI agent poses as a representative of sheiks who want to come into the country. He assures Murtha that the sheiks aren’t torturers. They’re just thieves:

These guys are…there’s not gonna be a hue and cry as there is with the Shah… that, uh, you know a fella on television waving an artificial leg…and the kid with no arms and what not…we’re only talking about as far as I’m concerned and I’m told is that, these guys, the only problem they’re gonna have is that people will probably yell and scream, “Hey they ran away with half the country’s financial assets.” You know, it’s going to be a monetary thing.

This doesn’t seem to faze Murtha, who says that anyone with money can get into the country. Amoroso, the FBI agent, says that he wants to pay to make sure that the sheiks can get into the country:

AMOROSO: We’re talking about fifty thousand…fifty thousand is for one guy. Just for the one guy. Okay? The other guy, he’ll be fifty thousand. Okay? That’s what we’re talking about. . . . You’re the man that’s gonna have to introduce some kind of legislation to keep this guy in.

Murtha says:

I think that in order to introduce legislation, you have to have a real tie to the district. One of the things is a lot of guys have gotten into a lot of trouble with is that type of thing.

Murtha spends a lot of time explaining how the sheiks can build ties to his district. They can make substantial deposits to banks that will then be grateful to Murtha, buy a business in the area, and the like. He boasts: “I’ve got as much influence in that goddamn Congress, with the leadership and the White House, as anyone in Congress.” He says that he has contacts who can tell him whether the immigration issues will be a problem. But, he keeps saying, he doesn’t think it will be a problem.

Con man Melvin Weinberg, who was working off a plea deal with the FBI, says that the sheiks are looking for “insurance” — a guarantee that they can stay in the country. Murtha replies that the best insurance is to invest in his district:

WEINBERG: John, what we want we’re buying insurance from this…this is what he thinks. He wants to know…

MURTHA: You can buy insurance if you want to. But I’m gonna tell you somethin’. To me, insurance is investing in my goddamn district… and doing this goddamn, you know this, this is, to me, a big goddamn insurance policy is doing business in my district.

Murtha rejects money, and says that he wants investment in his district, but wants to stay within legal bounds:

And I’m gonnna tell you something, there’s an article in the [Philadelphia] Bulletin the other day, you might have seen it Howard, “Jack Murtha Deals in the District,” and that’s right. You know, and I want, I want this guy to spend money in my district. I want this connection in my goddamn district. I’m delighted to do business with him, and do every goddamn thing I can within bounds, you know, so I don’t get myself in jail, in order to get him into the country and whatever needs to be done.

Which sounds nice. But Murtha says a couple of other things that put that in context. First, he repeatedly assures the sheik’s representative that he sticks with deals:

When I make a deal, it’s a goddamn deal.

And why does he want investment in his district? Because it makes things look kosher — meaning the feds won’t look for the money:

A business commitment that makes it imperative for me to help him. Just, let me tell you something. I’m sure if — and there’s a lot of things I’ve done up here, with environmental regulations, with all kinds of waivers of laws and regulations. If it weren’t for being in the district, people would say… “Well that son of a bitch, I’m gonna tell you something….This guy is, uh, you know, on the take.” Well once they say that, what happens? Then they start going around looking for the goddamn money. So I want to avoid that by having some tie to the district. That’s all. That’s the secret to the whole thing.

If you listen to the whole thing, that just about sums it up. Murtha wants the sheiks to have a stake in his district, so that if he has to do something visible for them, he can justify it as a favor to someone in his district.

This, after being offered $50,000 per sheik.

Read the whole analysis I link above. It describes Murtha’s tactic as follows:

As long as there is a business commitment, or an investment in the district, no one looks for the money. With that explanation, such investments appear to have dual purposes: good politics, and good cover.

The message is: we’ll get that connection established — and then we’ll talk. That’s what Murtha is saying. You make the investments now — and I’ll consider your offer later:

See, here’s the problem now, Tony, if you get into heat with politicians there’s no amount of money that can help. This is — and I’m gonna tell you very frankly, I’m on the Ethics Committee and I see it. I see the thing falling apart. The thing that worried me the most is going through one, two, three, four people. No matter what they think it is, and I know how they fall apart, and you do too, you know how the son of a bitch falls apart… and I know also that, you know, after a while you learn whether you can do business or not…and, uh, right now what I’m interested in, let me put it this way, right now I’m interested in those other things. Now I’m not saying that some day — you’ve made an offer. It may be that I’ll change my mind some day…at this point, that’s all I’m interested in.

More Murtha:

Lemme tell you something. You came to the right guys in order to get it done. . . . But I want to do business with you. I mean I want to get the goddamn jobs in the area, you know, a few bank deposits in my area. Nothing I’d like better. Later on, after we’ve dealt a while, we might change our mind — we might want to do more business.

Just to make it clearer:

WEINBERG: You know how the Arabs do business, they like to make sure they’ve got insurance. Money don’t mean shit to them.

MURTHA: Mel, I understand, and I know it doesn’t mean shit to them. But on the other hand, as I look into this thing, it may be that that’s the only way I can do business, by being completely dependent on… you know, I need the goddamn money like anybody else does. But, you know, this thing may be so sticky that I know that I know that it’s gonna take a lot of goddamn work, and if it’s going to take work, the only thing that can justify it is…is that goddamn investment in my district.

. . . .

. . . I know, see, the one thing is in this thing, we can do this probably, but I’ve got to be completely to the point where I can disclaim anything and that’s why I’m so careful about making any deals, and I know what you’re saying — you got fifty thousand — that doesn’t mean nothing to those goddamn Arabs, I know that, but that’s not the point. The point is I’ve got to be able to pursue this maybe farther then they can, these other two guys. And if I want to do that, I’ve gotta have, first of all, business in the district, and second of all…

. . . .

. . . But I want to do business with you. I mean I want to get the goddamn jobs in the area, you know, a few bank deposits in my area. Nothing I’d like better. Later on, after we’ve dealt a while, we might change our mind — we might want to do more business. But right now, I think I can do more this way than any other way. I think I can do more by being completely independent, if you understand what I mean. And listen, it’s hard for me, shit it’s hard for me to say, just the hell with it. But I think this is the way I can do the best, the most good.

Translation: I’ll consider the bribes later.

Murtha was never indicted. But after being offered a bribe, he never contacted the FBI. He never contacted the Ethics Committee. But he did contact his immigration guy. Before anything more damning could occur, the Abscam investigation became public knowledge. Murtha cooperated with the prosecution, and the Ethics Committee never punished him.

But watch the whole tape. The guy is dirty.

He’s a perfect choice for Majority Leader for the Democrats.

Just perfect.

P.S. If this were a Republican, do you think we’d get more detail on this from the L.A. Times than a tepid statement that some ethics watchdogs are upset, even though he was cleared of wrongdoing??

65 Responses to “The Corruption-Fighting Party Turns to Alcee Hastings and Murtha”

  1. You nailed it.

    Christoph (9824e6)

  2. Now we’re putting him in charge of national secrets. No bribery potential there!

    Cuz who is most likely to get bribed but someone who has been busted for it before?

    actus (10527e)

  3. Oh my G-d this country is soooo screwed. It wouldn’t have been too bad if the Dems would at least force their bad apples out of the government, then we’d just have the uneasy feeling that the seem to attract double-dealing ethically challenged individuals. But they don’t, they leave them in place and when the time comes, THEY PUT THEM IN POSITIONS OF RESPONSIBILITY?
    Well, like Frey said, it’s great for the republican and bad for the country. G-d help us.
    My only burning question now is this; since Democrats typically get us into wars, which republicans have to win, what happens now?

    Paul from fl (967602)

  4. Wow, so it’s been about a week and a half and they are already killing themselves. As John Murtha might say, “goddamn son-of-a-bitch”.

    AndrewGurn (8a0c5d)

  5. Cuz who is most likely to get bribed but someone who has been busted for it before?

    Yeah, showing a propensity to take bribes isn’t indicative of anything. Nah.

    sharon (dfeb10)

  6. A lot of what is seen as wrong here on Murtha’s part is that Murtha is dealing with Arabs who are offering him bribes. However, in many second and third world countries, bribes are simply a way of getting things done. Murtha is explaining to them that bribery isn’t how things are done here.

    Because these conversations were in fact set-ups, Murtha is being lied to by people trying to put him in jail. So there’s really no value to trying to cooperate with them, but Murtha doesn’t know that.

    From Murtha’s perspective, these are rich men who could potentially develop valuable business relationships with him and his district.

    I’m not really clear on what you think Murtha should have done. Should he have said he wouldn’t take an improper payment because Jesus wouldn’t let him? Should he have gone to the ethics committee and told them he didn’t want Arabs trying to do business with him anymore?

    He’s trying to stay within the rules on bribes, and he does that. He doesn’t have a duty to put these guys in jail for offering bribes — that’s what these guys do in their home country. They don’t have a representative government or proper channels to go through.

    Nobody’s trying to convince Murtha to go out and murder someone; they’re trying to get him to do political favors. That’s what a politician does. He goes and gets political favors for people. They’re coming to the right guy in terms of his power, and they’re asking for things that, for the right people, he could do. They just happen to not be the right people. He’s trying to tell them how they might become the right people for him to work with.

    You appear to start out with the presumption that any cooperation between murtha and these people would be illegal. That’s not true. The only reason it’s true is because the people trying to negotiate him were really just trying to entrap him into committing a crime, and Murtha had no hope of ever getting a truly benificial bargain for his district out of the deal.

    Phil (88ab5b)

  7. Jesus.

    Did you watch the tape?

    Patterico (de0616)

  8. Phil, you are spinning like a top. That is a unique interpretation of Murtha’s comments — assuming you actually watched the whole thing (or read the transcript) and got a feel for the context.

    In bold above are statements like

    I need the goddamn money like anybody else does. But, you know, this thing may be so sticky that I know that I know that it’s gonna take a lot of goddamn work, and if it’s going to take work, the only thing that can justify it is…is that goddamn investment in my district.

    and

    [Y]ou’ve made an offer. It may be that I’ll change my mind some day…at this point, that’s all I’m interested in. . . . But I want to do business with you. I mean I want to get the goddamn jobs in the area, you know, a few bank deposits in my area. Nothing I’d like better. Later on, after we’ve dealt a while, we might change our mind — we might want to do more business.

    Can you really maintain with a straight face that Murtha didn’t allude to the possibility of accepting the “offer” in the future???

    Patterico (de0616)

  9. The Wall Street Journal also has an excellent editorial on Murtha, including analysis of how House Dems closed ranks to protect him from an investigation by the Ethics Committee and the fancy pay-offs involved.

    http://opinionjournal.com/diary/?id=110009248

    mokus (20bd01)

  10. Maybe before you accuse Paul of “spinning” you should start writing posts without ellipses and carefully selected, carefully emphasized text.

    You’re a lawyer, so tell us: Did Murtha do anything illegal by turning down these bribes?

    Also, answer this: Is it the responsibility of politicians to do what’s best for their district? Is that their job?

    Murtha probably is crooked, but so’s every other person on Capital Hill. We need to start over to have any hope of an ethical Congress.

    [There are links to the transcript and video, which I feel confident you Murtha defenders have not watched. He was offered an explicit bribe and left open the possibility that he’d take it later. That goes beyond standard political shadiness. I included the most exculpatory passage I could find, and in context, it ain’t too exculpatory. If there’s anything significant I failed to mention, I’m sure you’ll let us know. But I stand by my interpretation of the video as a whole. Only a rabid partisan or someone who hasn’t watched it could disagree. — P]

    Leviticus (43095b)

  11. For once I agree with Leviticus. Your bolding and elipsis and selective emphasis is the opposit of context. How about I do my own selective bolding and editing:

    WEINBERG: You know how the Arabs do business, they like to make sure theyve got insurance. Money dont mean shit to them.

    MURTHA: Mel, I understand, and I know it doesnt mean shit to them. But on the other hand, as I look into this thing, it may be that thats the only way I can do business, by being completely dependent on you know, I need the goddamn money like anybody else does. But, you know, this thing may be so sticky that I know that I know that its gonna take a lot of goddamn work, and if its going to take work, the only thing that can justify it isis that goddamn investment in my district.

    And Im gonnna tell you something, theres an article in the [Philadelphia] Bulletin the other day, you might have seen it Howard, Jack Murtha Deals in the District, and thats right. You know, and I want, I want this guy to spend money in my district. I want this connection in my goddamn district. Im delighted to do business with him, and do every goddamn thing I can within bounds, you know, so I dont get myself in jail, in order to get him into the country and whatever needs to be done.

    [Y]ouve made an offer. It may be that Ill change my mind some day . . . at this point, thats all Im interested in . . . . But I want to do business with you. I mean I want to get the goddamn jobs in the area, you know, a few bank deposits in my area. Nothing Id like better. Later on, after weve dealt a while, we might change our mind we might want to do more business.

    So, am I “spinning like a top” now?

    [You’re not offering a reasonable and innocent explanation for the parts I bolded. They are damning whether bolded or not. — P]

    Phil (88ab5b)

  12. Oops. Phil. For some reason I read that and thought “Paul”.

    Harr

    Leviticus (43095b)

  13. As a side note, I think it’s really misleading of the right to attack Murtha using a transcript of an attempted entrapment *that failed* as if it were an actual discussion with people trying to bribe Murtha.

    It’s obvious that Murtha keeps trying to steer these guys into doing business legitimately. Unlike real people, however, these entrappers have only one goal in mind — getting Murtha to accept a bribe.

    So the conversation goes on and on, with Murtha trying to explain why this won’t work, and the “Arabs” pushing again and again to bribe him in different ways.

    Had these been actual Arab businessmen, Murtha’s attempts to turn this into a legitimate deal would have been persuasive. They might not have worked, still, but we’ll never know. Instead, we’ve got attempts that are doomed from the start.

    And here’s how Malkin is characterizing this fraud of a negotiation, based entirely on people trying to set Murtha up to send him to jail:

    “undercover FBI agents videotaped Murtha entertaining a $50,000 bribe from agents posing as emissaries for Arab sheiks trying to enter our country illegally.”

    That’s such bull. The fact is, the FBI videotaped its agents pestering Murtha to break the law, and Murtha refusing to do so.

    [You haven’t watched the tape, have you? Why does he allude to reconsidering the offer at a future date? — P]

    Phil (88ab5b)

  14. I cannot watch the video with my connection but, from the excerpts in the post, I agree with Patterico. In my limited experience, when an elected official is asked for a favor the conversation is very straightforward: A. No, I can’t do it because it’s against the present policy/the rules of my governmental body don’t allow it/I don’t think you deserve it; or B. Yes, I will be glad to do it — this member of my staff will help you through the process.

    There is none of the pussy-footing around that Murtha did and no quid pro, monetary or otherwise, ALLOWED to be mentioned. Murtha should have ended the conversation the minute the $50,000.00 came up using his DI’s voice to tell Weinberg where to put it.

    Whether a federal prosecutor thought he had evidence beyond a reasonable doubt* or whether the House Ethics Committee gave one of their collegues the benefit of the doubt, is a separate issue. I believe that there was more than mere appearance of impropriety.

    *In “sting” cases the prosecution needs to establish predisposition to commit the crime in order to overcome the defense of entrapment.

    nk (47858f)

  15. In my limited experience, when an elected official is asked for a favor the conversation is very straightforward: A. No, I can’t do it because it’s against the present policy/the rules of my governmental body don’t allow it/I don’t think you deserve it; or B. Yes, I will be glad to do it — this member of my staff will help you through the process.

    Where does this “limited experience” come from? I have never seen this policy, but if exists, it could change my mind about Murtha’s conduct.

    I’ve always been under the impression that when an elected official is asked for a favor a substantial amount of negotiation often occures regarding whether or not the favor is of value to the people the official represents. Hence, the lucrative career path known as “lobbying.”

    Phil (88ab5b)

  16. AMOROSO:”Lemme ask you. Are you telling me as far as you’re concerned — you don’t want any money?”

    MURTHA:”That’s right.”

    ///

    How ’bout that? Pretty “exculpatory”, if you ask me.

    [Yes, but that was covered in the post. I said in the post that he rejected the money. But the context makes clear that was only for the time being. — P]

    Leviticus (43095b)

  17. Or maybe this:

    “I’ll tell you how I feel about my part of it. My part is that you don’t need to spend a goddamn cent on this thing”

    -Murtha

    Leviticus (43095b)

  18. I’m still looking throught the transcripts, P. Like I said, Murtha is probably as crooked as the rest of them, but I wouldn’t say he’s any more so. I just wanna let you know that even though I’m looking for exculpatory statements, I understand that, overall, this sounds like a shady deal.

    I’m just playing devil’s advocate (if I could just find my damned assistant…)

    Leviticus (43095b)

  19. And once again the Left illustrates one of the main differences between the Democrats and Republicans.

    Nixon is forced to resign, Clinton is defended.

    Foley is forced to resign, Studds is defended.

    Cunningham resigns, Rostenkowski holds on until the bitter end, and is later pardoned by Clinton.

    (When is Rostenkowski coming back by the way?)

    gahrie (ee9fe2)

  20. […] According to Patterico’s take on it, the foxes are establishing control of the Congressional hen-house. Hope you weren’t holding your breath waiting for some fresh eggs out of these jokers. John “Grandpa Simpson” Murtha is set to be tapped as the House Majority Leader. He has some ethical issues, including a history of being investigated in Abscam. In that investigation, he obliquely discussed with an undercover investigator the possibility that he might accept bribes in the future, once the investigator provided him sufficient political cover. But more about that in a moment. […]

    “Okie” on the Lam » Anti-Corruption Democrats — An Oxymoron? (e2cef7)

  21. Anyone tempted to comment on this topic really should read the Wall Street Journal editorial, linked at #9 above. It’s required reading.

    mokus (20bd01)

  22. Phil, Comment #15,

    First-hand experience. First time: “The legislative scheme is against what you ask and you have an alternate route which is onerous but it’s the law.” Second time: “Yes, we’ll be glad to help. We have a staff member who handles these types of cases.” Just like that. All straightforward and aboveboard. I’m sorry, I will not give more details. (Also, as a lawyer for 24 years, having done among other things, immigration adjustments of status and clemency petitions in mandatory minimum sentencing cases, and from war-stories told my colleagues.)

    “I have never seen this policy, but if exists, it could change my mind about Murtha’s conduct.”

    Think of it this way: You’re an oil multi-millionaire and you get a special bill to get a green card. You’re a $7.00/hr Mexican landscaper and you get …?

    nk (57e995)

  23. In situations like this, some people want to think the worst of the person in the spotlight, Rep. Murtha in this case. They’ll ask, “Looking at the available evidence, how would a reasonable person view the motives and actions of this individual? Of course, there’s always two or more sides to the story, and of course information is neither complete nor perfect–but still, what sort of preliminary judgement could I make?”

    People disposed to thinking the best of the person in Murtha’s position ask a different question, along the lines of, “If the evidence I’ve reviewed was taken into court, would the prosecutor be likely to win a felony conviction under the standard of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’?

    Patterico has written an essay and presented link that follow along the first of these two standards.

    In the comments, Phil and Leviticus are offering defenses according to the second standard.

    It’s a strong defense, and consistent with the facts–after all, Murtha was never indicted, much less convicted, so clearly the Justice Dept. declined to prosecute. For its own reasons, the Ethics Committee didn’t go anywhere with Mutha, either.

    However.

    It seems to me that Patterico’s standard is broadly applicable. It is quite close to the reasonable-person standard that we use in our lives every day. At least those of us who aren’t lawyers, or defendants.

    (Thought exp’t.: If you’d hired a babysitter and then found that he gave you the creeps, would you think, “well, he doesn’t have a record as a convicted sex offender, so I’m morally obligated to keep him”? Of course not.)

    Patterico isn’t, actually, acting out a vendetta against Murtha. He’s reviewing what Murtha did during Abscam. Yeah, it’s pretty obvious why the Feds declined to prosecute. Murtha (unlike Rep. Cunningham) didn’t let his greed run ahead of his caution. He used hypotheticals and threw in lots of good-guy filler. “If this deal goes queer for whatever reason, I want to have a strong defense.” But the import as to what a reasonable person would make of Murtha’s deeds and character is pretty clear, too. The guy was dirty.

    Phil and Leviticus: This isn’t a courtroom, it’s the comments section of a political-opinion blog. Your defenses of Murtha are great–it’s just that this is the wrong venue. As far as the points you make, Murtha already won.

    AMac (b6037f)

  24. Actus says, Cuz who is most likely to get bribed but someone who has been busted for it before?

    That’s the problem. Murtha never got busted for it. Charlie Wilson rode to his rescue and Murtha has gone on to lead a charmed life for the last 26 years.

    With the culture of corruption that exists now (William Jefferson being found with $90,000 in his freezer and getting a pass), Murtha could figure why not take a bribe; nothing bad comes of that anymore.

    scott (bb6669)

  25. I understand what you’re saying, AMac. I recognize that this looks like a shady deal, and have said so.

    It’s just that everyone here’s saying “Oh no, Murtha, HE’S GOING TO TAKE A BRIBE FROM THE TERRORISTS!” when, in reality, he’s already shown a propensity for turning bribes down (whether or not his motives in doing so were pure [which we cannot judge]).

    I have a legal question, which I ask out of genuine curiosity (knowing little on the technical legalities of “stings”): If the agents in this operation suspected from the conversation that Murtha was hinting at a bribe down the road, would it have been within their power to play along and see what came of their cooperation?

    Leviticus (43095b)

  26. Leviticus: they might have done had the cover of the investigation not been blown. Once that happens, the dynamic changes, and results are no longer reliable predictors.

    [Indeed. Also, I’d like to know Phil’s and Leviticus’s defense for Murtha’s failing to report the bribery attempt, as House rules required. Phil said he didn’t have to — but he did. — P]

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  27. Leviticus,

    It is not accurate to say that Murtha has shown a propensity for turning bribes down. You can only say that if he (A) turned down one or more bribes and (B) reported the attempts to the authorities. He may have done A but he didn’t do B.

    It is more accurate to say that Murtha has shown a propensity to consider a bribe because we don’t know whether he would have ultimately refused a bribe if his preconditions had been met.

    DRJ (1be297)

  28. “Culture of Corruption” – Redux

    Big Bang Hunter (9562fb)

  29. “You can only say that if he (A) turned down one or more bribes and (B) reported the attempts to the authorities”

    -DRJ

    Good point. It is a little suspicious that he didn’t report the attempted bribe. I have no defense for it, P. Like I’ve said, I have no great love for Murtha, and think he’s a slimy pol. All I’m doing in pointing out excupatory passages of the transcripts is providing a little balance, as well as answering your quasi-challenge that there were no exculpatory passages at all.

    All in all, I’m sure that you’re right about Murtha’s consideration of a bribe in this situation. Murtha’s language in the transcripts is very ambiguous…almost like the transcript should have inserted *wink, wink* everytime he directed money to his district or turned down a direct offer.

    What a weasel. Is there no one honest in Washington these days?

    I mean, an honest politician would’ve walked in, saw the money on the desk, walked out, and reported these clowns. Pretty depressing that $50,000 dollars in cash sitting on a desk seemed business as usual to an elected representative.

    [I didn’t say there were no exculpatory passages at all. I challenged you to find something significant I hadn’t mentioned. You have since pointed to passages showing he rejected money. But I *said in the post* that he rejected money and asked for investment in his district. I also explained why I think he asked for that. I misrepresented nothing. — P]

    Leviticus (b987b0)

  30. Funny, but with all the discussion of bribery, I would be much more concerned with Alcee Hastings.

    On the one hand, having already taken bribes, one wonders what sorts of things he might be willing to sell, with access to highly classified information. (I’m going to presume that he cannot function as chairman of House Intel if he cannot have access to such info—and that Nancy Pelosi knows this in backing him for heading HSCI.)

    Second, I have to wonder how vulnerable he is to blackmail—given his somewhat cavalier attitude towards taking bribes, does this make him more or less vulnerable to blackmail, if he’s still on the take?

    Lurking Observer (ea88e8)

  31. Hastings has long been on the House Intelligence Committee. In fact, he was the “ranking member” i.e. Democrat counterpart to the Republican Chairman.

    😉 Leviticus, speak up. Has the CIA told Hastings, “If we ever suspect a leak from you, you will be wearing cement overshoes”?

    nk (32c481)

  32. 29:

    The other option for an honest politician is to tell the potential briber that he needs to deal with your bribe agent, Stevie. Have him meet Stevie (cop by day, undercover cop by night) the next day in your wired-up office, and have the FBI come in and bust the person trying to bribe you.

    I hadn’t seen the Murtha Abscam tape before. I don’t think it was prosecutable as a crime, but I think it should cause public scorn and loss of his job. Was this tape available before? Did anyone use it against him in re-election campaigns? Someone have a link to this information? Help!

    –JRM

    JRM (de6363)

  33. JRM,

    Murtha’s opponent in the last election was Diana Irey. Her campaign focused on the Abscam tape but apparently the Iraq war was more important to the voters.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  34. Diana Irey called into the Hannity radio show today. She said to listen carefully to the tape. At one point Murtha and his assistant leave the room for a few moments, and when they came back into the room, the assistant asks if he can take the $50K, that Murtha says it’s OK.

    mokus (20bd01)

  35. Watch the whole tape. It is 54 minutes long, and worth the time. Murtha is on the ethics committee in 1980. He is informed on the Abscam tape that two of his fellow congressmen, who are also his friends, are taking bribes to get Arab shieks into the US.

    On tape, the two FBI agents tell Murtha that two other congressmen are in on this “deal”. What is his response? He talks to the FBI agent about Congressmen “Toppy” Thompson and Murphy “these other two guys have told me the deal is this and this and this” and “both are solid, you don’t have to worry about them, you’ve got two good guys.

    Here are some other quotes from the video. “I have to be more careful, I expect to be in the f@cking leadership someday” and “Sh@t, I do bussiness like this all the time”. The video ends with Murtha’s partner in crime, Howard, trying to get the fifty grand in cash from the FBI guy. The agent tells Howard that he wants to give the money to Murtha directly. Howard responds not to worry because it the just the way Murtha works and “He’s going to get his”.

    It appears to me that Murtha is dirty as sh@t. I may be wrong. However, shouldn’t Murtha at least have reported the fact that he knew that two congressmen were taking bribes. Isn’t that what an ethics committee member should have done?

    steadykat (217529)

  36. Steadykat asked:

    However, shouldn’t Murtha at least have reported the fact that he knew that two congressmen were taking bribes. Isn’t that what an ethics committee member should have done?

    House rules require, and required then, that members report any attempts at bribery to the FBI. One target of Abscam, Senator Larry Pressler (R-SD), told the bribers that what they had proposed was illegal, and reported the contact to the FBI the following day.

    As Leviticus noted, there was at least some ambiguity in Mr Murtha’s words. (The best connotation I can put on it is that Mr Murtha was trying to tell them how to take an illegal bribe and make it a legal contribution, and even that’s strained.) But the fact is he was offered a bribe, something he certainly knew to be a crime, and didn’t report it to the FBI!

    It has been said that the mark of an honest man is that he does the right thing even when no one is watching. Mr Murtha thought that there wasn’t anyone watching, but couldn’t quite bring himself to do the right thing.

    Dana (a90377)

  37. Fungible Democratic Ethics…

    There’s just enough leeway in the conversation to support the position that Mr Murtha neither accepted a bribe nor expressed an intention to do so. But one thing is clear: Mr Murtha did not tell the gentlemen trying to bribe him to go to Hell, nor d…

    Common Sense Political Thought (819604)

  38. […] As if it weren’t enough that he Dems are looking to put in power Alcee “Impeached for Bribery” Hastings and John “I Don’t Want That Bribe! . . . Right Now” Murtha, now we learn that Jack Abramoff has allegedly implicated Harry Reid in corruption. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Abramoff Implicates Reid (421107)

  39. Well, let’s not wait too long before we commence with the politics of personal destruction. If you can’t attack their politics, attack their person.

    Psyberian (7f49a5)

  40. […] If you can watch the Murtha Abscam video, which I discussed this morning, and then watch John Murtha lying about it on Hardball — and you can do all this without retching — why, then, you must be a Democrat. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » Murtha Plays “Hardball” on Abscam (421107)

  41. Do you mean like Mark Foley, Larry Craig and Ted Haggard, Psyberian?

    nk (b57bfb)

  42. > If you can’t attack their politics, attack their person.

    Too true. Mighty Patterico combined his mind-control ray and Professor Peabody’s Wayback Machine to force Rep. Murtha to act the part of the unindicted co-conspirator.

    What will he do next–tie a disgraced former lobbyist to the incoming Senate Majority Leader? His destructive powers know no bounds!

    AMac (c4e2d0)

  43. Psyberian,

    I hope I misunderstood your comment #39. Does the fact that some here have criticized Murtha’s failure to report a bribe seem to you like an impermissible personal attack on Murtha?

    DRJ (1be297)

  44. Well, let’s not wait too long before we commence with the politics of personal destruction. If you can’t attack their politics, attack their person.

    You consider legitimate questions about corruption to be an impermissible part of the politics of personal destruction?

    Patterico (de0616)

  45. Question on the law:
    Is not an impeachment conviction equivalent to a felony conviction? And, if so, how can Cong. Hastings receive a security clearance?

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  46. Well, OK, Psy, let’s ask Paula Jones how long she had to wait before the politics of personal destruction were applied against her.

    mokus (20bd01)

  47. Another Drew, Comment #45:

    No, it’s not. It has it own rules. And in the case of Hastings, the Senate in rendering its conviction of impeachment chose not to “attaint” him (i.e. make him ineligible to again hold public office).

    But … to politically correctly paraphrase Spike Lee’s “Do The Right Thing”: “Why are [Alcee Hastings’s constituents] so $%^&ing stupid?”

    nk (32c481)

  48. Another Drew #45,

    I assumed that Congressmen/women were excused from the requirement to obtain a security clearance but having read this I’m curious whether that’s true for intelligence committee members.

    DRJ (1be297)

  49. Sorry. Bad link. Hopefully this one will work.

    DRJ (1be297)

  50. I guess CNS doesn’t want links so here’s a link to the cached version.

    DRJ (1be297)

  51. I give up. Here’s the relevant portion of the article I tried to link:

    Members of Congress Should Undergo Security Clearance, Lawmaker Says
    October 15, 2001

    Upset over the leaks of classified information by some of her congressional colleagues, Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.), a member of the House Rules committee introduced legislation Monday requiring all members of the House to undergo a security clearance.

    “There must be accountability for leaking sensitive information that could cost American lives,” said Myrick in a statement on Capitol Hill. “This is a new chapter in history for all of us. Members of Congress need to be informed, but leaking information has the potential to put our troops at risk.

    “We have to do everything in our power to make sure it never happens again,” Myrick said.

    Her resolution would require all House members be subject to the same security clearance procedures as required by members of the House Intelligence Committee. Only after receiving a security clearance would members be allowed to view classified documents and attend classified briefings.

    Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), newly elected House Democratic Whip and ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee had no reaction to the legislation, according to spokesman John Stivers.

    “We have no reaction to the Myrick legislation at this point,” Stivers told CNSNews.com on Monday.

    DRJ (1be297)

  52. Murtha refused a bribe with $50,000.00 cash put in his face and you twist that into something immoral. He was cleared of any wrong-doing. So the rest is bias.

    NK, folks like Foley, for example, are in a different category altogether if their proven to be guilty. That you can’t discern the difference speaks volumes.

    By reading this blog over the last year, I’m learning that empty accusations are a dime a dozen. It’s no wonder that people say that “A grand jury can indict a ham sandwich.”

    Psyberian (7f49a5)

  53. The best connotation I can put on it is that Mr Murtha was trying to tell them how to take an illegal bribe and make it a legal contribution, and even that’s strained.)

    Actually i think he was trying to tell them how to become the sorts of people he does favors for — his rich constituents — by becoming investors in his district.

    actus (10527e)

  54. Psyberian, Comment #52:

    I thought I was addressing your comment about personally destroying someone for political reasons.

    As to Murtha, when even the AP, the left’s lap-dog, accuses him of being part of D.C.’s “pay to play” culture (link: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20061116/ap_on_go_co/congress_leaders) ….

    nk (ca8012)

  55. Psy,
    Why didn’t he report the Bribery effort? Simple question, should result in a simple answer.

    paul from fl (001f65)

  56. Why didn’t he report the Bribery effort? Simple question, should result in a simple answer.

    Because he’d rather have an investor in his district that’s an asylee gone straight than a desperate asylum applicant killed because he can’t get asylum.

    actus (10527e)

  57. Psy wrote:

    Well, let’s not wait too long before we commence with the politics of personal destruction. If you can’t attack their politics, attack their person.

    If an elected lawmaker is found, on tape, at least considering the acceptance of a bribe, and fails to report a bribe attempt, as is required by congressional rules, I’d say that’s pretty serious, and certainly reflects on the lawm,aker’s public function.

    Dana (3e4784)

  58. Actus wrote:

    Why didn’t he report the Bribery effort? Simple question, should result in a simple answer.

    Because he’d rather have an investor in his district that’s an asylee gone straight than a desperate asylum applicant killed because he can’t get asylum.

    Good grief, actus, you’ve got to be dizzy; you’re spinning like a top on this one!

    If Mr Murtha were concerned about the “asylum seeker” getting killed, the appropriate thing to do is go to the FBI! House rules required him to report any bribery attempt.

    The test is pretty simple: we all know that our Democratic friends would not be defending the congressman if he was a Republican.

    Dana (3e4784)

  59. Actus,

    I don’t see how the fictional sheiks can be called asylum seekers. Weinberg showed them as thieves on the lam with their loot looking for a hideout. The best thing he said about them is that they did not kill, torture and mutilate children. Even if they were asylum seekers, it still begs the question. If you have investments you get asylum in Pennsylvania — if you don’t you enjoy the comforts of Lubyanka or the warm affection of Pinochet. Same thing for Hastings: He took $150,000.00 for a lenient sentence. How many ghetto kids who did not have $150,000.00 did he sentence to 25 years for selling an ounce of crack?

    (At least I learned my fact for the day. Penn + sylvan[ia] = Pennsylvania. I had never noticed that before.)

    nk (d5dd10)

  60. just a guess why murtha didn’t report the attempted bribe: he had no corroborating evidence. he knew that if he called the fbi “sheik abdul just tried to give me fifty grand” and they went to the sheik, he would say “oh no, is big misunderstanding, money not for congressman murtha but for make benefit of entire glorious state of pennsylvania.”
    ever talked to fbi agents? i have, a couple of times. they’re evidence-oriented and result-oriented. if you don’t have some red meat to show them, they go into public relations mode “never fear, we’re working on it, can’t tell you the details but trust us, the bureau is working overtime to keep you safe.”
    don’t even bother opening a file unless you have the critical mass required to take it to the desired conclusion.

    assistant devil's advocate (ebed6f)

  61. It looks like his fellow Democrats agree with us because they picked Steny Hoyer over Murtha. (AP)

    nk (06f5d0)

  62. I don’t see how the fictional sheiks can be called asylum seekers.

    Murtha seemed to buy that they were:

    Let’s be honest about it. This poor son of a bitch could be killed tomorrow,

    Even if they were asylum seekers, it still begs the question. If you have investments you get asylum in Pennsylvania — if you don’t you enjoy the comforts of Lubyanka or the warm affection of Pinochet.

    I know, and i I write to congressman murtha’s constituent services office he won’t pay me much attention, because I live in DC. Congressmen serve their constituents. It gets them votes. I know people don’t like that rich people get favors like this, but thats our system. Welcome to america.

    actus (10527e)

  63. We, here in Illinois, don’t like it so much that we have put 3 out of 7 governors in my lifetime in prison for it and the odds are that we will make it 4 out of 7 pretty soon. Not to forget our star convict: Rostenkowski.

    nk (32c481)

  64. […] Citizens wondering “what is this Murtha/Abscam ethics issue?” have four national papers to which they can turn for an explanation. […]

    Patterico’s Pontifications » L.A. Times the Only Major National Newspaper to Fail to Explain Why Murtha’s Abscam Activities Were Suspicious (421107)


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