The Return of the Republican Party’s Sleaze Factor

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The Return of the Republican Party’s Sleaze Factor

The REPUBLICAN PARTY is a mad house!

Back before the 2006 midterm elections, the Republican Party suffered from what the media called the “sleaze factor.” A number of scandals had given the party’s brand a black eye. The perception that the GOP was a collection of unsavory characters of diminished morals helped the Democrats win big that year. Now, it appears the sleaze factor is making a comeback, which bodes well for the Dems in 2016.

There was a lot of slime in the Republican ranks in 2006. The press dubbed it a “culture of corruption.” There was money for political favors, such as the four members of the House convicted of bribery or similar crimes involved with Jack Abramoff’s influence peddling. Worse, for the party of family values, there were sex scandals, too. For instance, a few, including Mark Foley, were involved in a teenage sex scandal that had underage males as the victims.

Now, we have the GOP golden boy, Marco Rubio, up to his eyeballs in losing polls. 


Sadly for New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie, while he was fighting this fire, another cropped up in Hoboken. There, mayor Dawn Zimmer has claimed that Christie’s Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, threatened to withhold federal hurricane relief money unless the mayor went along with a real estate development plan that allegedly would have lined the pockets of Christie supporters. The governor and lieutenant governor deny this, but some reporters (especially the tiny left wing in America’s media) can’t seem to stop picking at this scab.

Christie’s problems, though, pale in comparison to those of former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen. Federal prosecutors have indicted them on 14 counts related to influence peddling. Matt Zapotosky wrote in the Washington Post,  “Authorities allege that for nearly two years, the McDonnells repeatedly asked Richmond businessman Jonnie R. Williams Sr. for loans and gifts of money, clothes, golf fees and equipment, trips and private plane rides. The gifts and loans totaled at least $165,000. In exchange, authorities allege, the McDonnells worked in concert to lend the prestige of the governor’s office to Williams’s struggling company, Star Scientific, a former small cigarette manufacturer that now sells dietary supplements.”


Now, there are legal experts out there who say the government is going to have a hard time proving that any crime was committed. The former governor said, “The federal government’s case rests entirely on a misguided legal theory: that facilitating an introduction or meeting, appearing at a reception or expressing support for a Virginia business is a serious federal crime if it involves a political donor or someone who gave a gift.” He added that the Supreme Court had “rejected this radical idea and for good reason because if it were applied as the law of the land then nearly every elected official, from President Obama on down, would have to be charged with providing tangible benefits to donors.”

His team stated, “The centuries-old crime of bribery requires — as it always has — proof of a quid pro quo in the form of illicit payments made to secure official government benefits…. Not everything a public official does to benefit a donor is an ‘official act,’ however, or every photo op would be a crime.”


Here’s the problem for the GOP. The legal standard for “he’s a crook” is a lot higher than the political standard that you’ll hear from the loud mouth at the end of the bar (who is more likely a Tea Party guy than a Democrat). A former governor of Virginia who was tipped for national office is on trial for bribery. If he walks, the mud will have been thrown and much of it will have stuck. If he doesn’t walk, it’s even worse for the party.

And there are other potential scandals out there. For example, North Carolina’s House speaker, Thom Tillis, is the target of a fundraising letter by a Tea Party-backed obstetrician and U.S. Senate candidate named Greg Bannon. The letter read, “His [Tillis’] Chief of Staff — who shared an apartment with my opponent — and his Policy Analyst were forced to resign after it was revealed they were having ‘inappropriate’ relationships with lobbyists. But my opponent still gave both of them ‘golden parachutes’ — a full month’s pay after they resigned from their position.”

The Republican sleaze factor is back — or did it ever really leave?

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