By Roman Mamonov
A scandal has unfolded involving the former US presidential contender and Barack Obama`s rival John Edwards. Last week the trial rejected a defense motion to dismiss a corruption case against Edwards who is accused of masterminding a scheme to use nearly $1 million in secret payments from wealthy donors to help hide his pregnant mistress, the Associated Press reports. Edwards is not the only high-profile US politician known to have used various schemes to conceal donations for his election campaign. The former front-runner of the Republican primaries Newt Gingrich also faced money laundering charges.
A politician, his mistress, a child, money…and exposure: this situation has long become classical. The case of John Edwards recalls that of Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, although this time the court’s evidence is really solid, not just a sperm stained dress. Investigators say that Edwards had received illegal donations during his election campaign to hide his mistress Rielle Hunter. The politician publicly denied having an affair with Hunter and being the father of her child. Now it has turned out that despite all these unpleasant allegations, Edwards was seeking the post of vice-president or at least attorney general. As a result, he is now facing numerous charges, including fraud, violations of the US election legislation and moral norms.
The scandal involving Edwards broke out a couple of years ago. The ongoing presidential campaign has brought many other violations to light. Newt Gingrich, one of the key Republican candidates, was accused of having worked as a lobbyist for large corporations. He would not have ever been criticized for that if he had been doing it legally. But he didn’t. Gingrich`s opponents claimed that he served as a lobbyist for very successful ‘employers’: Freddie Mac, the No. 2 provider of US mortgage money, and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). When the financial crisis began, Freddie Mac asked the governmental for help, while the PhRMA tried to use billions of budget money to make purchases. It turned out that Gingrich was personally persuading Congressmen to support these companies` initiatives.
The scandal has raised questions about the legality of the lobbying profession and a conflict of interests involving high-ranking politicians and former officials. The notorious former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who spent four years in jail on corruption charges, claims that companies spend millions to pay officials and lawmakers who agree to lobby for them. Various schemes are invented to conceal illegal activities: donations for election campaigns, consulting fees, sponsor aid to charity foundations.
Although the case of Newt Gingrich was covered in the media, he has not yet been summoned to court. Meanwhile, the former New York State Senator Joseph Bruno is facing 20 years in prison after being charged with taking $440,000 in payments disguised as consulting fees from an Albany businessman.
Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich entered a federal prison in Colorado in March to begin a 14-year sentence for corruption, including an attempt to sell or trade President Obama’s vacated Senate seat. Some were very surprised at such a tough verdict, but political analyst for Chicago Sun-Times Abdon Pallasch believes that it now should be viewed as a precedent by other officials.
According to national ratings, Chicago is the most corrupt city in the US. Remarkably, fourof Illinois’ lastsix governorswere convicted of corruption.
Corruption scandals are quite common in different parts of the US. In view of this, all bids submitted by Congressmen who seek financial assistance are now being thoroughly checked by the police.
Transparency International has recently ranked the United States the 24th least corrupt on a “corruption perceptions index”. Each year the US rating is getting worse. Currently the US has fallen behind Qatar, Chile, the Bahamian Islands, Ireland, Belgium and a dozen European countries. This is not, however, a favorite issue of discussion among American politicians.