In any nation’s justice system the theory behind meting out punishment for violating the law is, besides taking a criminal out of circulation, to deter citizens who consider or are inclined to break the law from acting on their impulses. Indeed, the reason people continue violating the law is because they are not held accountable for their actions and regardless it is white collar crime, armed robbery, or assault and battery criminals who go unpunished have no reason to refrain from being a menace to society. Politicians are shielded from investigation and prosecution because of their positions of power, and there are myriad examples of high-ranking politicians who continually break the law with impunity.
In 2011, Speaker of the House John Boehner stood in front of the American people and castigated President Obama for not approving Canadian oil company TransCanada’s permit to build the KeystoneXL pipeline and lied profusely that the project would create hundreds of thousands of American jobs. Despite TransCanada’s admission that the project would create less than 2,000 jobs over a two year period, Boehner had no compunction lying to provide the Koch brothers, ConocoPhillips, and oil exporters with profits as well as enriching a foreign corporation planning to use American land to send tar to the Gulf Coast for refining and export on the foreign market.
It turned out that in 2010 Boehner invested in 7 Canadian tar sand companies according to his 2010 financial disclosure and stood to profit from the pipeline’s construction. Boehner’s investments and lies lead to an appeal to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to launch an investigation into share manipulation and personally profiting from his high-ranking position in the House. At the time Boehner’s actions inspired a national petition to force his resignation. Boehner already had a history of using his position to influence legislation, and in 1995 he passed out checks on the floor of the House from the tobacco industry to legislators for their votes on legislation favorable to the industry. When he was exposed Boehner feigned ignorance of unethical practices and promised he would never distribute corporate checks for votes on the House floor. Subsequently, because he was not punished he blatantly lied to the American people to enrich a foreign oil corporation, the American oil industry, and himself in 2011.
If Boehner had been punished in 2011 he may have thought twice about repeating the lie that the Keystone pipeline would create more than TransCanada’s estimate of less than 2,000 jobs, but he was not and returned this week lying again about the number of jobs Keystone’s approval will create. On Tuesday at a press conference Boehner claimed that “if the president was serious about helping the economy he would reach out and work with us to pass things like the Keystone Pipeline that would put tens of thousands of Americans back to work.”
Republicans are prone to lie, cheat, and steal from the American people to advance the interests of their numerous corporate masters as a matter of course, but they take extraordinary steps to enrich the obscenely profitable oil industry including handing out billions of dollars in subsidies while slashing domestic programs because, as they are wont to say, “America is broke” because the industry pays them handsomely. The affront to the American people is building the Keystone pipeline will not provide one drop of oil to America and will, in fact, raise fuel prices by at least 23 cents a gallon according to Keystone’s owners TransCanada. Earlier in the year a report to the State Department prepared by the oil industry claimed construction of the pipeline and development of Canada’s tar sands was environmentally safe, and it was another conflict of interest to allow a company the Koch brothers, ExxonMobil, and other oil industry groups used to compile favorable studies contradicting climate scientists who warned developing Alberta tar sand was “game over for the environment” according to leading climate scientist James Hansen. However, destroying the climate aside it is Speaker John Boehner’s continual lying to profit the oil industry, his stock portfolio, and the Koch brothers who refine 25% of tar sands and store the waste along America’s rivers, in America that requires an immediate investigation by the Department of Justice. Boehner has to go, and his options are resigning forthwith to save his family the humiliation of a Congressional Ethics investigation for conflict of interest and facing a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation for share manipulation to profit himself, Koch Industries, and the oil industry’s foreign export business.
No American is supposed to be above the law, and yet time and time again rich and powerful men and high-ranking Republican politicians are given a free pass to violate the trust afforded them by the American people. When Boehner was caught red-handed handing out tobacco industry checks he should have faced an ethics committee and been kicked out of Congress, but because he wasn’t he continues using his position of authority to lie to profit himself, Koch Industries, and the oil industry that contributes heavily to his campaign. It is long-past time to treat him like any other criminal and hold him accountable ethics violations if for no other reason than to deter the next Republican from lying to profit the obscenely profitable oil industry.