Top 10 Ethics Scandals of 2009

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Christmas came early today when Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington revealed their “Top Ten Ethics Scandals” of 2009. It’s their third annual list, and is jam-packed with titillating/depressing breaches of ethics in both the legislative and executive branches. A must-read for all observers of crooked ambition and unchecked hubris in the political sphere. 

Republican South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford made the naughty list by taking secret trips to Argentina to see his mistress, possibly financing said trysts with state funds. (Happens to the best of us.) Filed under “Gov. Mark Sanford’s Excellent Argentinian Adventure,” the scandal comes complete with a recommendation for accountability:

CREW’s holiday wish: For the South Carolina’s Attorney General and the State Ethics
Commission to find the governor violated state laws, forcing him (finally!) to do the honorable
thing and resign. This would allow the state’s government to focus on serving the citizens of
South Carolina, where nearly one in four adults are unemployed.

Other outrages include:

•   Federal “pay czar” Kenneth Feinberg’s failure to stop financial firms that received TARP funds from kicking up exorbitant bonuses to execs.

•   The SEC’s sixteen-year failure to stop Bernie Madoff’s ponzi scheme.

•   Loads of criminal and ethics violations committed by Senator John Ensign (R-NV) to cover up his affair with a campaign staffer, who also happened to be married to a member of his office staff.

Why do I suddenly feel the need to bathe? Anyway, don’t forget to read the whole finger-wagging report, which won me over by having both a sense of ethical responsibility and a philosophical sense of humor. After all, at the end of the day, you just have to laugh about it. Then, once you’re through laughing, feel free to weep for a few hours.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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