During Ulysses Grant’s scandalous presidency, a Republican senator from Iowa, James Grimes, called his own party “the most corrupt and debauched political party that ever existed.”
The political events of 2018 could lead one to the same conclusion: The GOP, once the “Grand Old Party,” has become the “Party of Corrupters.” Five examples–with direct ties to Missouri–support this conclusion.
1. Opposition to clean government. Voters in Missouri on Tuesday will consider Amendment 1, an attempt to clean up state politics by increasing fairness, accountability and transparency. The clean government amendment would lower campaign contribution limits, eliminate many lobbyist gifts to lawmakers, and open legislative records to the public.
The clean government amendment would also require lawmakers to wait two years after leaving office before becoming lobbyists. Just as importantly, the change would promote fairness and competition for setting boundaries of legislative districts. Most people–and especially the League of Women Voters–want cleaner government.
What do the Republican corrupters say about cleaner government? Republican lawyers tried and failed to keep it off the ballot. At a recent forum, all the Republican candidates for state House seats voiced opposition. Campaign advertisements against the clean government amendment accompany posters favoring Republicans.
Why does the party of corruption oppose this clean government amendment?
They don’t like Amendment 1 because it would change the state Constitution, and lawmakers wouldn’t be able to reverse it. The corrupters benefit from large financial contributions by corporations, rich businessmen and financiers. Passage of Amendment 1 threatens the legislators’ gravy train.
2. The Corrupters’ tainted candidate for state auditor. The State Auditor is the government “watchdog,” to ensure taxpayers’ funds are accounted for and spent wisely.
The person the Corrupters nominated to be state auditor has a questionable background. Saundra McDowell, the Republican candidate for this important office, has faced lawsuits for failing to pay her bills and unpaid taxes. She has also been criticized for not living in Missouri for a full 10 years, which is a requirement for the auditor’s post. McDowell apparently has also misrepresented her previous work.
What kind of government watchdog would Saundra McDowell be?
3. Josh Hawley’s deceptive campaign for the U.S. Senate. In a grab for power, Missouri’s attorney general has resorted to every underhanded maneuver he can muster in an attempt to boost himself to higher office. Hawley has lied on-camera about his stance on health care, and dodged questions about his troubled management of the attorney general’s office. Wearing jeans and cowboy boots, the 38-year-old Hawley campaigns like a robot, or as two St. Louis radio announcers put it, “a ladder-climbing phony.” It’s become clear in recent days, from disclosures in the Kansas City Star, that Hawley never intended to remain attorney general. Shortly after taking office he began plotting his political ascendency. Hawley has failed to show Missourians what he stands for, and refuses to challenge the ugly rhetoric of Donald Trump.
As one newspaper found, Hawley is “running his campaign from the gutter and is employing a shameful array of misleading tactics to make Missourians believe he’s someone he clearly is not.” Corrupters want candidates like Hawley to win office and do his damage on the national stage.
4. Eric Greitens, the “dark money” governor. The name of the scandal-plagued former Navy SEAL has seldom come up during the closing weeks of the political campaign. But Greitens’ ghost hovers over the proceedings, especially with regard to what happens to the clean government amendment.
Greitens was elected with the benefit of millions of dollars of “dark money,” the source of which has never been disclosed. Even after he resigned his office just a few months ago amidst allegations of a sexual scandal and abuse of a campaign donor list, the rich contributors behind his rise to power have never been identified. With Republicans in control in Jefferson City, there appears to be no active investigation into the sources of Greitens’ money. The Greitens’ saga is a part of the Corrupters’ narrative and extends to Josh Hawley, the attorney general. Hawley failed to adequately investigate the the use by Greitens and his staff of a confidential phone app that automatically deleted text conversations.
5. The Corrupter-in-Chief. Republicans have embraced a corrupt President and have stood by him despite lie after lie and scandal after scandal. Trump’s lack of ethics has been on display for all to see. As lower ranking Corrupters campaign with him, they set the stage for what Tuesday’s election will be, a referendum on Donald Trump’s first two years in office.
The GOP once stood for family values and fiscal responsibility. The Corrupters show those values are for suckers. Trump, Corrupter-in-Chief, demeans women and minorities, mocks military heroes, embraces murderous dictators, and repudiated credible evidence of Russian meddling in U.S. elections. The people he has appointed to run government agencies are cronies of the people and companies they are supposed to regulate.
No one is forgetting the abuses of power that took place during Republican Richard Nixon’s years in office. And the other political party is not entirely blameless. It has had ethical lapses, too
But now the Corrupters control all branches of the federal government: the Congress, the White House and the Supreme Court. In Missouri, the Corrupters rule the governor’s office and the House and Senate.
The Corrupters’ power is absolute. What’s next?
Britain’s Lord Acton observed in the 1800s, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men…”
Our protection against bad men is in our hands, if voters take the steps Tuesday to throw the Corrupters out of office. Voters can also put in place a strong amendment to clean up the mess The Corrupter-in-Chief and his henchmen created.
It’s your country, your vote, our future.