Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released its annual Most Corrupt Members of Congress report, which takes a bipartisan look at Washington’s worst. Members on this year’s list engaged in misconduct ranging from misusing congressional staff to orchestrating and accepting illegal campaign contributions, and even using campaign donations for personal expenses. In this year’s report, 12 members were named to the list, while eight more garnered dishonorable mentions. Additionally, 11 of the 20 members are making their first appearance in CREW’s Most Corrupt report.
“It is hardly surprising Americans’ contempt for Congress is at an all-time high,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “While voters have grown weary of seemingly endless ethical scandals, both the House and Senate remain loath to crack down on their members’ misconduct.”
Although CREW assigns no ranking system to the list, several members’ actions are particularly egregious. Notably, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is making his fourth appearance on CREW’s list for increasingly unbelievable misconduct, including illegally reimbursing employees of his car dealerships for donating to his campaign and attempting to bribe a business partner to cover up the scheme. Freshman Reps. Michael Grimm (R-NY) and David Rivera (R-FL) are both making their second appearance in two years. Rep. Grimm allegedly took illegal campaign contributions and may have promised to assist a prominent fundraiser in procuring a green card. Rep. Rivera is under investigation by the FBI and IRS for apparently attempting to conceal income and appears to have illegally intervened in the Democratic primary to select his opponent.
On the Democratic side, serial offender Rep. Laura Richardson (D-CA) was recently punished by the House of Representatives for misusing official resources, forcing her to staff to work on her campaigns, and obstructing a House investigation into her conduct. Rep. Rob Andrews’ (D-NJ) whirlwind year included revelations he used campaign funds for personal expenses, notably a family trip to Scotland. In addition, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY) is still under scrutiny for failing to disclose a loan from an indicted New York businessman and is also under federal investigation for his dealings with non-profit groups.
“A recent poll shows Americans remain strongly concerned about the ethics of government leaders,” continued Ms. Sloan. “We deserve better from elected officials and Congress must reform its ethics process to more effectively mete out punishment to members who abuse the public trust.”
This is the eighth edition of CREW’s Most Corrupt report, an annual look at unethical conduct by members of Congress. This year’s list includes seven Democrats and 13 Republicans; nine are repeat offenders. Since 2005, CREW has named 81 members of Congress to the list, 32 of whom are no longer in office.