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 collecting illegal campaign contributions to accepting improper gifts and loans, and even using campaign funds for personal expenses. In this year’s report, 13 members were named to the list, while 4 more garnered dishonorable mentions.
“Ethics proved to be a major issue during the 2012 election. As a result, many unethical members are no longer in office,” said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. “But CREW’s latest report proves there is still much work to be done to clean up Congress.”
This year’s report includes 10 repeat offenders, 6 of whom are appearing for at least the third time. Although CREW assigns no ranking system to the list, several members’ actions are particularly egregious.
Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is making his fifth appearance on CREW’s list for an ever-expanding rap sheet, including tax evasion and an illegal campaign contribution scheme. Notably, at least 11 separate individuals and companies associated with the Florida congressman have been fined for their involvement in making conduit contributions to his campaigns. Similarly, Rep. Don Young (R-AK) is making his fifth appearance for infractions ranging from earmarking funds to benefit a campaign contributor to using campaign funds for personal expenses.
On the Democratic side, Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), making his third appearance, has been under investigation for his ties to several non-profit groups and for accepting improper gifts and loans. He is joined by Rep. Rob Andrews (D-NJ), appearing in CREW’s report for his second straight year for using campaign funds for personal expenses, including a family trip to Scotland.
In addition to these repeat offenders, there are seven members of Congress appearing for the first time in CREW’s Most Corrupt report. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) earned a place on this year’s list as a result of the numerous legal investigations tied to her failed 2012 presidential bid. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, earned his spot after it was revealed he used his position to benefit a close friend and campaign donor. Proving congressional corruption isn’t limited to veteran lawmakers, freshman Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) also makes an appearance in this year’s report for abusing his position on the House Appropriations Committee to benefit his own financial interests.
Sloan continued, “It is disheartening that neither the Department of Justice, the Federal Election Commission, nor the congressional ethics committees are tough on politicians who cross the ethical line. Exactly what does a corrupt lawmaker have to do before those charged with enforcing the laws will step in?”
This is the ninth edition of CREW’s Most Corrupt report, an annual look at unethical conduct by members of Congress. This year’s list includes 6 Democrats and 11 Republicans; 10 are repeat offenders. Since 2005, CREW has named 88 members of Congress to the list, 45 of whom are no longer in office.