WASHINGTON - January 12 - With calls for ethics and lobbying reform finally sweeping Capitol Hill, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) urged the Republican Caucus to reject unethical candidates for leadership posts. Specifically, CREW asks the Caucus to reject acting Majority Leader Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who is vying to keep his position, and Rep. Eric I. Cantor (R-Va.), the current Chief Deputy Majority Whip, who is running for Majority Whip.
Reps. Blunt and Cantor have continually demonstrated poor judgment regarding ethics issues, according to CREW. For example, both men, along with Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) and former Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), signed a letter at the behest of convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff, that benefited an Abramoff client, the Louisiana-based Coushatta Tribe. The letter was sent to Interior Secretary Gale Norton.
"If Members of the House were truly committed to cleaning up the cesspool that Congress has become, they would not even consider Reps. Blunt and Cantor to lead the way," Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW said today. "Considering their assistance to Jack Abramoff, in tandem with other questionable activities, we would hope that rather than elect Reps. Blunt and Cantor to Leadership, they would be placed on the long list of legislators who should be investigated by the House ethics committee."
Some of the questionable activities Rep. Blunt has engaged in:
-- Attempted to secure legislation for Phillip Morris (Altria), a major contributor to Rep. Blunt and a client of both his then-girlfriend and now wife, Abigail Perlman, as well as his son Andrew.
-- Inserted a provision into legislation benefiting U.S. shippers like United Parcel Service, Inc. and FedEx Corp., both of which were major campaign contributors and clients of Andrew Blunt.
-- Funneled money through a local party committee into son Matt Blunt's campaign committee when he was running for Missouri Secretary of State.
-- Attended a luncheon in Seoul in January 2002 that was paid for by the Korea-U.S. Exchange Council (KORUSEC), a registered foreign agent in violation of House Rules which provide that a Member, officer or employee may not accept travel expenses from a foreign agent.
Some of the questionable activities Rep. Cantor has engaged in:
-- Held a fundraising event at a delicatessen owned by Abramoff, failing to pay the $1,732 bill for the event until six months later and then, only after the Jewish Forward raised questions about whether Rep. Cantor had broken campaign finance laws by failing to pay the bill.
-- Accepted $12,000 in campaign contributions from Abramoff, his wife and associates in 2003-2004.
Details of Rep. Blunt's activities can be read at http://www.beyonddelay.org and Rep. Cantor's actions can be read in full at http://www.jackinthehouse.org.