Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 2, 2009
POLITICS: Not Much Better

Since I noted the poor state of the Oakland Mayor's office yesterday, we get news that the Democrats' next in line has his own problems:

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata said Tuesday he will run for mayor of Oakland in 2010.

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Perata is a political heavyweight who served four years as state Senate president pro tem, when he was, arguably, the most powerful Democrat in state government. But candidate Perata will bring plenty of baggage into the mayor's race, too.

The FBI has investigated Perata for more than five years, trying to determine whether he took kickbacks or bribes for official favors, perhaps through a network of friends and associates.

Earlier this year, the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco told Perata's attorneys the office would not file charges. But the FBI subsequently took their case to the Sacramento U.S. attorney's office, which agreed to review the case. Perata said he hasn't heard anything about the case since then.

Of course, there's not always fire where there is smoke, but the step of trying a second set of prosecutors certainly suggests that the FBI thinks it has something.

Meanwhile, David Freddoso looks at the "corruption tax" imposed on residents of Illinois (the latest Daley ally convicted last week is discussed here). Then there's Alabama, where Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford will stand trial this summer and former Governor Don Siegelman, also a Democrat, saw the bulk of his conviction affirmed earlier this month. Pretrial proceedings also continue against Democratic officials in Baltimore, including the Mayor. And the NY Daily News has an article and a rogues' gallery on corruption and dysfunction in Albany. As usual, when you dig for this stuff there's a boatload of Democrats and a handful of Republicans.

UPDATE: Rod Blagojevich is expected to (finally) be indicted today.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 12:18 PM | Politics 2009 | Comments (17) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

"As usual, when you dig for this stuff there's a boatload of Democrats and a handful of Republicans."

It's really true. Democrats are just more corrupt than Republicans. What is wrong with this country that the Dems have so much power? And I hate to say it, but it seems more likely than not that they're going to have over 60 votes in Senate from 2010-2012. Given the current economic climate, that is truly terrifying. I fear the nation's time as the leading power in the world is very close to an end.

Posted by: Johnny B. at April 2, 2009 12:47 PM

"As usual, when you dig for this stuff there's a boatload of Democrats and a handful of Republicans."

You are still going to insist on this? Even if I take that at face value, would it really be that surprising, given that the Democrats are the majority party at present? As I've said before, corruption is inherent in politics, and no party is immune.

As one fervent Republican noted in 2005, when the tables were turned, it's power - not party- that corrupts.

http://biglizards.net/blog/archives/2005/11/those_corrupt_r.html

Posted by: MVH at April 2, 2009 1:08 PM

I gotta go with MVH on this. First, you can't just say "As usual, when you dig for this stuff there's a boatload of Democrats and a handful of Republicans." You have to have numbers to back it up.

We discussed before that Democrats control the large cities/states which they have controlled for a long time. Longtime control seems to breed corruption. So IF there is more Democratic corruption this is a possible cause.

The Republican's record when they ran the Congress for 10+ years was not totally clean either. So they did not show they could govern w/o getting their hands dirty either.

Leave you with a favorite quote "An honest politician is one you only have to pay once."

Posted by: Lee at April 2, 2009 4:31 PM

Power and politics is corrupting no matter who is in power. However, the Dems power base tends to be more centralized in larger states, cities and municipalities giving them more opportunities for shenanigans. In addition, while both parties are involved with big business, only the Dems are really involved with big labor-they work both sides of the street.

Posted by: dch at April 2, 2009 4:54 PM

What are you guys talking about? Look at the list of corruption scandals Crank put in his post. You cannot possibly put together a similar list for Republicans.

Posted by: Johnny B. at April 2, 2009 5:09 PM

Johnny B,

Can you prove the point by detailing the scandals by political affiliation taking into account the % of each party serving office? This is kind of like a Batting Average. You have got to divide by the times at bat not just count the hits.

If someone did this and then one party had a "significantly" higher number of a period of time; then I would say we have a trend we can analyze. Otherwise, it is just an based on a small sample size. Means little to me. Even Mario Mendoza (of the Mendoza line fame) hit over .400 during a few game span.

Posted by: Lee at April 2, 2009 5:26 PM

I see corruption as endemic to both political parties. I used to think it was a function of how long someone was in office, but I'm so cynical at this point that I suspect any and all of them from the day they announce their run for office.

I am more interested in Don Perata's potential run for Mayor of Oakland. He is a classic elitist. Why? You can find this everywhere on the web you care to look, but I am pasteing it from Wikipedia:

"Despite his efforts at gun control, for years, Perata legally carried a handgun with a concealed weapons permit he believed was necessary due to a high number of death threats he has allegedly received from certain opponents of his firearms related legislative activity."

I have ZERO problems with him carrying a concealed wapon, but it is grossly hypocritical of him to deny me the right to protect myself to the degree that he reserves the right to protect himself. This is the living, walking definition of an elitist.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at April 2, 2009 6:22 PM

As an example, I give you the city of Waterbury, CT. Waterbury is fairly large city in CT (pop. 100,000-plus) and is a blue collar, declining industrial city that is primarily democratic. In its heyday, it had brass and copper mills, which are largely gone. It's like the Detroit of Connecticut. In short, it is exactly the kind of town where Crank would expect to see democratic corruption.

Yet in a city that has been rife with corruption, here are the names and party affiliations of those investigated/indicted and their offenses:

1940 - Mayor Hayes - Dem. - Fraud - Prison
1988 - Mayor Bergin - Dem - Bribery - Acquitted
1992 - Mayor Santopietro - Rep. - Brib/Kickbcks - Prison
1996 - Mayor Giordano - Rep - investigated by FBI for corruption, stopped because they had evidence of pedophilia - Prison

And let's not forget Waterbury's favorite son, Gov. John Roland - former mayor and governor in connecticut and imprisoned for corruption along with some of his Waterbury cronies.

So here we have a history of *both parties* being corrupt in the kind of city that Crank would expect to be a democratic cesspool.

Now if I wanted to, I could write a slant piece and talk about corruption in Waterbury, and not unfairly conclude that with Bergin being acquitted, Republicans were largely responsible for the most recent history of corruption connected to Waterbury.

But would that really tell the whole story? Of course not. Democrats in Waterbury were very corrupt in the 1930's and 40's, and it wouldn't shock me if Bergin had done something and not got caught.

Also, note the other examples of Republican corruption in CT in the Connecticut Magazine link I have below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waterbury,_Connecticut

http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=11652940&BRD=2329&PAG=461&dept_id=484827&rfi=6

Posted by: MVH at April 2, 2009 6:46 PM

People bribe politicians because they expect to make more, in the form of allocated governmental benefits, than the cost of the bribe. In general, Democrats believe more governmental allocation, or redistribution, of goods, services, or money than do Republicans. Thus, Democrats are more likely to be bribed profitably. Getting a contract for a $50 million bridge or bogus fuzzy community development grant may be worth a few thousand dollars in the right pockets, but few people will risk a bribe to a Republican for a 5% reduction in the capital gains tax.

Posted by: wd at April 2, 2009 8:26 PM

WD,

I swear, you guys just see what you want to see sometimes. Are you really suggesting that Republicans don't have their own interest groups that are interested in receiving taxpayer dollars?? You extrapolate from some abstract and narrow notion about what each party does, then conclude that dems are somehow more corrupt.

Read the Connecticut magazine link above about the schemes that Santopietro pulled in Connecticut. I'm calling you guys out on this one. You maybe able to sell these kinds of theories on redstate, but it doesn't stand up to the slightest scrutiny.

Posted by: MVH at April 2, 2009 9:01 PM

The idea that statistics on corruption could determine which party is more corrupt seems quite humorous, especially since statistics on the effectiveness of baseball players, thorough though they might be, don't tell the full story of a player's value to his team. The difference between the two parties is so stark, however, that a few examples ought to suffice to illustrate it.

Gerry Studds/Dan Crane: Each had an illicit relationship with an underage Congressional page—Studds with a boy, Crane with a girl. Republicans immediately turned Crane out of office, while Studds continued to serve his adoring constituents for many years.

Warren Harding/William Clinton: Harding had two illicit liaisons and some nasty corruption on the part of certain administration officials, while Clinton was (is?) a kind of satyr, and was and is—along with his loving wife—personally corrupt. But see who has the better political reputation.

Ted Kennedy/Sarah Palin: Each had an incident involving a bridge. Kennedy lost his driving license for a few months while Palin lost an election. (Yes, this is tongue-in-cheek, because I couldn't think of any Republican who had drowned a woman.)

ACORN/?: Stymied again, because I can't think of any corresponding Republican group supported by the Federal budget.

Examples aside, I think there is one good reason that Repubs tend to be less flamingly corrupt than Dems: Republican voters don't like to be embarrassed, so you get situations as in the Studds/Crane matchup, or in the recent Ted Stevens defeat. But Dem voters just don't seem to care all that much about the reputation and character of their heroes. And certainly the preponderance of illegal voting heavily *favors* the Dems—no real question about that.

Posted by: Dai Alanye at April 3, 2009 12:32 AM

MVH,

I was not referring to legitimate interest groups lobbying for public policy choices. Of course both parties have their constituents and, personally, I believe lobbyist money follows the policy, not the other way around. No matter how the NRA contributes to Ted Kennedy or Russ Fiengold, he's not going to introduce a bill to legalize assault weapons. Nor is Tom Coburn going to vote to legalize gay marriage or marijuana, nor matter how much anyone contributes to his campaign.

I was referring to illicit payments, either pay to play or outright bribes. More Democrats are likely to be approached with, and eventually tempted by, improper offers because Democrats, in general, hand out more governmental benefits because Democrats, in general, sponsor more government programs due to their philosophy about government.

The recent earmark explosion probably negates a lot of that effect for Congressmen because they can slip in any pet project to benefit targeted constituents without raising suspicsion, like Ted Stevens or Don Young. Of course Republicans get corrupted as well. But it seems that Democrats are more often corrupted, a lot of which probably stems from the urban Democratic political machines used to handing out patronage jobs and doing other "favors".

I am not arguing that Democrats' philosophy makes them more corrupt. I would expect that an equally high number of Democrats and Republicans to into politics with noble intentions. But power corrupts and I am arguing that someone is more likely to be corrupted practicing Democratic politics.

Posted by: wd at April 3, 2009 1:25 AM

wd,

"I was referring to illicit payments, either pay to play or outright bribes. More Democrats are likely to be approached with, and eventually tempted by, improper offers because Democrats, in general, hand out more governmental benefits because Democrats, in general, sponsor more government programs due to their philosophy about government."

Sorry, the argument is just not backed up by the evidence, the definition of "corruption" is overly narrow, and you rely on a simplistic and reified distinction between democrats and republicans.

The argument has so many problems, I'm surprised this keeps getting brought up. It's an argument only a partisan would make. My example of Waterbury turns the argument completely on its head.

And Lee is right - corruption is like batting averages.

Posted by: MVH at April 3, 2009 7:22 AM

While Maryland has its share of shady politicians - and often the corruption is actually what's legal rather than what's not - I'm not at all convinced that the case of Mayor Dixon is that strong. The prosecution has publicized its case in the news and has been getting little scrutiny despite some pretty blatant grandstanding. It looks like Mayor Dixon clearly violated ethics guidelines (which is what her defense is claiming now), but I'm not yet convinced that she broke any laws.

(FWIW, at least on the issue of crime, she's been more effective than her predecessor, now Gov. Martin O'Malley.)

Posted by: soccer dad at April 3, 2009 8:31 AM

Those of us old enough to remeber the Nixon era recall that his VP (Spiro Agnew) resigned due to scandal(s) and then Nixon resigned due to his "issues". Both were Republicans.

A possible observation is that on the National level, if a Republican Senator/Congressman that has a scandal is more likely to be voted out or resign than a Democratic counterpart. The examples being Alaska Senator (forget his name) vs. Democratic Senator "Cold Cash" Jefferson. Also contrast Nixon's behaviour where he resigned vs. Clinton's who forceed his impeachment then the Senate trail. Also Ted Kenedy's Chappaquidic (spelled wrong) incident.

The above being said, I hesitate w/o having solid numbers to state one party is more/less corrupt than another. Also I think there is a difference between the national and local levels. One should not take local incidents and reflect them on a national level or vics versa.

Posted by: Lee at April 3, 2009 12:27 PM

Let's hear it for term limits!

Posted by: John Salmon at April 3, 2009 2:03 PM

We've had term limits in the California legislature since the early 90's. They do not seem to have prevented Don Perata from being corrupt. Moreover, the quality of the members seems worse, but the ridiculous deficit and continued poor governance has a way of making see things in a negative light. So John, term limits sound good, but they do not seem to have worked. Maybe they'd work better elsewhere, but I maintain that the intoxication of spending other peoples' money just draws the wrong kind of fly into politics.

Posted by: NRA Life Member at April 3, 2009 4:33 PM
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