A member of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee hands out Republican House of Scandal calendars to GOP lawmakers offices in the Cannon House Office Building on Monday. For each month, the calendar features a Republican Member of Congress who has had ethics troubles.
Rep. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.) is facing an Ethics Committee investigation into whether she misused government resources in her bid to hold on to her seat.
Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) admitted to the Chicago Tribune in February that he asked a political supporter to buy a plane ticket for a woman with whom he had a “secret relationship.”
Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) is often credited with pioneering the use of ethics issues for partisan gain, culminating in the impeachment of President Bill Clinton relating to his affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
The Abramoff scandal — and other high-profile events such as former Florida Rep. Mark Foley’s sexually explicit messages to teenage pages — hurt Republicans in the 2006 and 2008 elections, prompting GOP leaders to vow to improve the party’s image.
“We understand there were reasons for our being fired in ’06 and ’08,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.) told the National Review in 2010. “I think we’ve learned that that’s not a good way to gain the confidence of the people and that we ought to be instituting a zero-tolerance policy.”
However, unlike during the Abramoff scandal, GOP leaders are not distancing themselves from Grimm, Buchanan and Rivera. Speaker John Boehner (Ohio), for instance, appeared at a Florida fundraiser in March with Buchanan shortly after a tough New York Times story about Buchanan’s investigations.
But Republicans have been ratcheting up their own ethics charges. House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) last week threatened to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress, the most pointed conflict between House Republicans and the Obama administration since the GOP took control of the chamber in January 2011 and obtained the power of the Congressional subpoena.
“The calendar the American people are focused on shows 39 straight months where unemployment has been above 8 percent under Obama’s watch. The real scandal is the economic legacy of Nancy Pelosi and President Obama which has left middle-class families with fewer jobs, higher gas prices and record debt,” NRCC spokeswoman Andrea Bozek said.