It was announced yesterday that Texas Governor Rick Perry was indicted on two felony charges. One was for coercion of a public servant, the other for abuse of official capacity. In a nutshell, these charges stem from threatening to slash funding for a prosecutor’s office that investigated public corruption if the person overseeing it didn’t resign after her arrest for drunk driving. The District Attorney who ran that public integrity unit, Rosemary Lehmberg, just happened to be a Democrat and was allowed to stay in office after being cleared by a separate grand jury.
Grand jurors indicted Perry on abuse of official capacity, a first-degree felony with potential punishments of five to 99 years in prison, and coercion of a public servant, a third-degree felony that carries a punishment of two to 10 years. No one disputes that Perry is allowed to veto measures approved by the Legislature, including part or all of the state budget. But the left-leaning Texans for Public Justice government watchdog group filed an ethics complaint accusing the governor of coercion because he threatened to use his veto before actually doing so in an attempt to pressure Lehmberg to quit. (Source)
What Rick Perry did was illegal, but there’s other politicians out there that have done worse and have gotten away with it so far. Here are the top five political figures I would like see in prison jumpsuits.
5. Darrell Issa: Congressman Darrell Issa (R-CA) is the Chairman of the House Oversight Committee and has wasted millions of taxpayer dollars since he took that position on launching one politically motivated investigation after another. It would seem that he has done little else other than to try to make something, no matter how ridiculous, stick to President Obama and the White House as part of the Tea Party crusade to somehow impeach the president. Like Wile. E. Coyote, every attempt has blown up in his face so far. But just like that cartoon coyote, he just goes back to square one and tries all over again with that same self-assuredness that this time, it’s going to finally get that pesky President Obama.
Abuse of power and misuse of public funds sound like great charges for Darrell Issa to me. Perhaps, unlike accusations of auto theft and arson in his past, maybe these would actually stick.
4. Chris McDaniel: While I’m certainly no fan of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS), Mississippi State Senator Chris McDaniel is a real piece of work. Seriously, when the black community turns out to vote for an incumbent Republican in a Mississippi primary just to make sure his challenger doesn’t get into office, that tells you a lot right there. Now it appears that his campaign also paid a pastor to lie and say that Senator Cochran’s campaign hired him to buy votes from the black community.
Days after the primary, Pastor Stevie Fielder told a conservative blogger that he had been hired by Cochran’s campaign to “offer blacks $15 each” to vote for the incumbent and got thousands of them to do so. Soon after, he changed his story, saying he had been asked to participate in such a scheme, but had not done so. The Cochran campaign acknowledged paying $300 to Fielder to reimburse him for get-out-the-vote expenses, but denied any vote-buying efforts.
Now, after Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D) began investigating Fielder’s original claims, he says he was paid to lie. According to a Hood spokeswoman, Fielder told state investigators that he received $2,000 to give the false interview — and that the money came from a McDaniel campaign spokesman. (Source)
I’m not sure of the exact charges that could be levied against Sen. McDaniel, but he should at least be censured by the Mississippi State Legislature. Oh, who am I kidding? This is Mississippi we’re talking about after all.
3. Paul Ryan: Few people in Washington have done more to fight for the interests of the wealthiest and most powerful other than Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI). Whether he’s drinking $350 bottles of wine with conservative economists or writing up budget proposals that might even make Ayn Rand cringe, few politicians embrace the “fuck the poor” ideology more than Paul Ryan. He also claims he doesn’t like the Netflix series “House of Cards” and I suspect it isn’t because of Frank Underwood’s infidelity to his wife, but probably because it’s a lot like looking in the mirror.
Last time I checked, being a Koch puppet wasn’t technically illegal so it is unlikely we’ll see him in prison orange any time soon. However, we can still dream, right?
2. Rick Scott: Florida Governor Rick Scott has managed to escape criminal prosecution in the past. Before he became governor, Rick Scott was the CEO of Columbia/HCA which was fined a total of $1.7 billion for Medicare and Medicaid fraud. In 2011, shortly after being elected, he signed a bill into law which would have required drug testing for welfare recipients. Not only was the law designed to imply that people on welfare were there because they were lazy drug addicts, the company most likely to perform these test was Solantic – a company that he co-founded.
One of the more popular services at Solantic, the urgent care chain co-founded by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, is drug testing, according to Solantic CEO Karen Bowling. Given Solantic’s role in that marketplace, critics are again asking whether Scott’s policy initiatives – this time, requiring drug testing of state employees and welfare recipients – are designed to benefit Scott’s bottom line.
The Palm Beach Post reported in an exclusive story two weeks ago that while Scott divested his interest in Solantic in January, the controlling shares went to a trust in his wife’s name. (Source)
As the polls stand now, Rick Scott is in a tossup race with former governor Charlie Crist who is now a Democrat. It is possible that if he loses the election, there may be some investigations into his actions while in office. After all, the former governor of Virginia, Bob McDonnell, managed to get indicted, so there’s always hope for the same thing when it comes to Rick Scott.
1. Bobby Jindal: Perhaps I’m biased since he’s is my governor, but there’s no politician I would love to see behind bars more than Bobby Jindal. Yes, signing unconstitutional laws, appointing the head of a hate group to a state law enforcement commission, or spending a lot of your time out of state sucking up to religious fanatics isn’t really illegal. However, selling the state’s medical system off to your political benefactors or signing a bill absolving oil companies of financial liability is when your brother just so happens to represent them probably are. Undisclosed conflicts of interest? Typical for Louisiana politics and possibly a prosecutable offense should the Justice Department decide to investigate further. After all, if they could put Edwin Edwards in prison, I’m sure with the right inquiries, it could happen to Jindal as well.
These are just five politicians I’d love to see behind bars, although there are probably many that deserve the same punishment. Have your own suggestions? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.
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