A person known for being honest and having strong ethical principles is regarded as having a high degree of integrity, and is the polar opposite of a corrupt person known for dishonesty and fraudulent conduct. There is an adage; “you are known by the company you keep,” that means one’s personality is defined by those they identify with, and it is curious why any person would embrace corrupt and dishonest people to inform their identity. One might believe, errantly, that Americans would demand their leaders possessed a high degree of integrity, but that belief implies that all Americans are honest and driven by strong ethical principles. Sadly, that is simply not the case.
It is reasonable to assume there are still Americans who have a semblance of integrity, but there is a large sector of the population that not only condones and admires corruption and dishonesty, they celebrate it in their elected government representatives; these corrupt Americans are the Republican base. Dutifully, Republicans have stepped up to meet their base’s demand to be corrupt, and dishonest, and it is evident in the preponderance of Republican governors under investigation for all manner of corruption. What is telling about their supporters’ own lack of ethical principles is that these Republicans’ polling numbers are much higher than one would expect. Apparently, corruption is as cherished as a virtue among conservatives as overt racism, misogyny, jingoism, religious extremism, and general hatred.
There are currently 11 Republican governors either under indictment, under investigation, or under intense scrutiny for their ethics violations and outright crimes. According to a report last month, the 11 sitting Republican governors are involved in scandals of their own creation, and nine of the eleven are running for re-election. Most are either leading in the polls or staying competitive with their challengers informing that, at least in their respective states, their base embraces their corruption and in some cases supports their intent to take their corrupt ways to the U.S. Senate.
One former Republican governor, South Dakota’s Mike Rounds, is seeking a Senate seat and openly admitted last Tuesday that he spent $600,000 of taxpayer money on a meat-packing company a former top cabinet official was going to work for when Round’s administration was winding down. The money went directly into the cabinet member, Richard Benda’s pocket in the form of a salary at the now-shuttered meat-packing plant; Northern Beef. There is not a clearer case of conflict of interest, or blatant Republican corruption, any American will likely ever hear about; much less an admission of complicity from a senatorial candidate.
The controversy is centered around Northern Beef’s connection to the EB5 visa scandal that allowed wealthy foreign investors to invest in a local South Dakota business in exchange for going to the head of the immigration line for valuable green cards. A private company headed by Governor Rounds’ employee, Joop Bollen, brought in $100-million to fund Northern Beef, but defrauded South Dakota taxpayers out of $140 million; that was in addition to the $600,000 of taxpayer money Rounds provided for his departing cabinet member’s salary. Benda, as South Dakota’s tourism secretary, provided “nominal” oversight for the scandal-ridden S.D. EB-5 program, parlayed it into a job with the company running Northern Beef, then convinced then-governor Rounds to provide taxpayer dollars for his own salary at the private company.
Northern Beef went out of business in less than a year, the debacle cost S.D. taxpayers an additional $4.4 million (at least), and when state investigators got too close to exposing the governor’s part in his cabinet member’s conflict of interest; Richard Benda took his own life. It is the ultimate display of honor among thieves for Benda to “take one for the Rounds’ team” to conceal the former governors’ involvement in a clear conflict of interest and misappropriation of state funds investigation; something the Republican senatorial candidate Rounds certainly was aware of. Republican voters see the fraud, investigations, misappropriation of taxpayer dollars as qualities that make Rounds well-qualified to represent them as a Republican Senator and corrupt politician.
Recently, another Republican governor, Alaska’s Sean Parnell, is facing intense scrutiny for remaining silent and not investigating gross Alaska National Guard abuses including sexual assaults of young women when he first received complaints. The eventual federal investigation discovered that multiple sexual assault reports were mishandled, including recruiting officers taking advantage of young women in high schools, military helicopters used for personal reasons, and money embezzled from the Guard’s family assistance programs.
Joining Parnell under scrutiny is his Republican Attorney General and Senate candidate Dan Sullivan who continues to refuse to answer questions regarding the Alaska National Guard abuses and fraud. Specifically, Sullivan will not say how early as attorney general he knew about the abuses Parnell kept covered up, or when Parnell informed the state’s lead law enforcement official about the sexual assaults and fraud in the Alaska National Guard. Eventually the truth will come out because Anchorage police continue opening up new lines of investigations. Likely, the new investigations will only embolden Republican voters to support their Republican heroes with renewed enthusiasm; Sullivan has not suffered any ill-effects from his alleged involvement in the fraud and sexual abuse cover up and is leading in the polls.
These corrupt Republicans are just the latest to join the ranks of sitting Republican governors under investigation by authorities. Among the corrupt Republicans under indictment, investigation, and intense public scrutiny and running for re-election are; Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker with two separate investigations including one federal inquiry for illegal fundraising activities at the national level. Ohio Governor John Kasich is keeping pace with Walker with several separate investigations for a variety of crimes including one ongoing FBI investigation for taking bribes; something Ohio voters must consider quite admirable since Kasich has a very substantial lead over his Democratic challenger.
The list of Republicans being investigated goes on and on, and many are leaders in the Republican-Teabagger movement including Nikki Haley (SC), Rick Perry (TX), Nathan Deal (GA), Paul LePage (ME), Rick Snyder (MI), Tom Corbett (PA), Chris Christie (NJ), and Sam Brownback (KS). What they all have in common is that regardless the corruption plaguing them, Republican voters are standing solidly behind them informing that conservatives support fraud, corruption, bribery, election-rigging, cover-ups, and stealing taxpayer money as a virtuous principle of Republican ideology.
The tendency for Republican corruption permeates the movement and is not reserved for national politicians or gubernatorial and senatorial candidates as evidenced in California’s Central Valley and likely throughout the United States. For the second time since the 2012 general election, state-level Republicans were caught red-handed illegally funneling campaign donations in violation of the state’s campaign finance laws. Instead of even a semblance of shame or remorse, at least at being caught, the revelation their local Republicans broke the law motivated GOP voters to attack long-standing election laws as another underhanded dirty trick; it is the same claim N.J. Governor Chris Christie made because Americans exercise their right to vote.
Of course Republicans are corrupt; they cannot win elections, garner campaign donations, or reward their corporate donors without a high level of malfeasance and criminality. However, what is telling about a large portion of the voting public is that they are just as corrupt for supporting, donating, and voting for Republicans they know are dishonest, corrupt, and have no moral or ethical principles even as they claim Christianity is the guiding force in life and governing.
It is getting increasingly difficult to find even an iota of redeeming quality or value in any Republican politician or their corruption-loving base. A Republican politician or their supporters may claim they hate corruption and demand integrity from their compatriots, but when they continue to support corrupt Republicans, vote for them, or donate to their campaigns, they reveal that their deeply-held principles are founded in corruption and dishonesty. Americans who support corrupt Republicans may not literally keep company with dishonesty Republican politicians, but they are birds of a feather and their deep-seated lack of integrity and unethical principles are exposed by the corrupt Republicans they vote for.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.