Indicted Politicians by the Numbers
We were looking over TWI’s Congressional (dis)Honor Roll of members of the House and Senate who have been indicted and we wondered, What do all these politicians have in common? Can we find some consistent characteristic that draws these guys to break the law (or just be accused of it)? We’re not criminologists, but we perused the list, crunched the numbers, and managed to come up with a set of interesting tidbits and trends.
Of the 102 lawmakers accused of breaking the law, 29, or 28 percent, were acquitted or the charges were dropped. Suddenly the famed Legal Defense Fund seems like a very worthwhile investment. They’re almost all men. In fact, we only found one woman: Rep. Bobbi Fiedler, R-Calif., who was accused of a crime. In 1986 she was charged with offering a candidate money to leave the race (her case was dismissed a month later).
The implicated members hail from 31 states. It turns out that the bigger states — with bigger delegations — had the most offenses: New York (11), California (8) and Pennsylvania (7). Ohio and New Jersey had six each. A handful of smaller states were surprisingly high on the list for their size, including Maryland with five congressional lawbreakers, Louisiana with four and Idaho with three. The south, the plains and the industrial Midwest have seen the biggest stain of scandal. Except for three incidents in Massachusetts, New England lawmakers have avoided charges. Perhaps they’re more upstanding patriots up there (or they’re better at covering their tracks).
Republicans have taken the brunt of bad ethics news in the past three years, claiming five of the six indictments since 2005. But with a 55-40 edge, Democrats can take the trophy for most indictments. And before our liberal readers try to argue that the Democratic Party is older, we’ll point out that only two of the indictments on our list came before the Republican Party was born in 1854.
Investigators clearly had their work cut out for them in the 1970s and 1980s, charging 41 members of Congress then compared with just 18 indictments since 1990. Still, the last few years have brought some entertaining incidents, like Sen. Larry’s Craig’s "wide stance" in the bathroom and Rep. William Jefferson’s cold cash in the freezer.
With all these lawmakers roaming federal penitentiaries, perhaps we should start investigating their earmarks. Were they steering our tax dollars toward their prisons?