In the last election cycle, government corruption was the key campaign issue, and there is little reason to believe 2008 will be any different. So how does the current slate of presidential contenders measure up on the issue of ethics?
So far, not so good.
In addition to her generally sordid ethics record, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) has taken a lot of heat recently – and rightly so – for failing to release her official White House records. Many suspect these records contain a treasure trove of information related to the former first lady’s role in a number of serious Clinton-era scandals.
Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), meanwhile, was involved in a suspicious real estate deal with an indicted political fundraiser, Antoin “Tony” Rezko. Obama was also linked to an alleged influence peddling scandal and was nabbed conducting campaign business in his Senate office, a violation of federal law.
Rudy Giuliani (R-NY) came under fire in recent weeks after it was discovered the former New York mayor billed obscure government agencies for security expenses for trips to the Hamptons where his then-mistress, now wife, Judy Nathan, resided. ABC News recently reported that Giuliani also provided Nathan a police vehicle and a city driver at taxpayer expense. All of this comes on the heels of the federal indictment on corruption charges of his former Police Chief and business partner Bernard Kerik.
And then there’s Governor Mike Huckabee, the former Baptist minister who has enjoyed a meteoric rise in the polls in these last few weeks. According to Politico.com:
[Huckabee’s] career has also been colored by 14 ethics complaints and a volley of questions about his integrity, ranging from his management of campaign cash to his use of a nonprofit organization to subsidize his income to his destruction of state computer files on his way out of the governor’s office.
Perhaps most disturbing of all, however, was Huckabee’s response to these ethics allegations. Rather than cooperating with investigators, Huckabee sued the state ethics commission twice and attempted to shut the ethics process down.
Given the track records of many of the leading presidential contenders, American voters from both parties concerned about government ethics may have some difficult choices to make.