Shame On Us, the American Voters
Friday, May 3, 2019
Last week, Baltimore Mayor Catherine Pugh resigned in disgrace. So, what else is new?
Mayor Pugh had been on medical leave for the past month as she battled pneumonia. She is also battling charges of financial impropriety, which led to a raid on her house and office by federal agents and an ongoing criminal investigation.
Again, I ask, what else is new?
The allegations against Mayor Pugh involve a children’s book series titled “Healthy Holly”, which she wrote and supposedly self-published. However, it turns out that others – including health insurer Kaiser Permante – actually paid to publish the series. Not so coincidentally, Kaiser Permante was successfully seeking a $48 million city contract at the time. There is also the small matter of a missing (and possibly never produced) 40,000 books, paid for by the University of Maryland Medical System, on whose board Mayor Pugh once served.
It would be easy to condemn Mayor Pugh along with her self-serving and potentially illegal actions…and I do. However, her saga is one that, unfortunately, is being played out in city halls and statehouses across our country. And yes, most definitely inside the Washington Beltway.
Does the name Charles Rangel ring a bell? One of the longest-serving congressmen in American history, Rangel was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1971 to 2017. In 2008, while he was chairman of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, Rangel was accused of multiple ethics violations involving rental apartments he owned in New York City, the Rangel Center at the City College of New York, and his personal villa in the Dominican Republic.
In November 2010, Rangel was found guilty on 11 counts of violating House ethics rules. The following month, the full House approved a sanction of censure against him, its most severe punishment short of outright expulsion.
But guess what? Rangel retained his seat in the November 2010 general election and was re-elected two more times, in 2012 and 2014. Likewise, Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey was returned to office in 2018, despite being indicted on federal corruption charges three years earlier (he was rescued by a hung jury). Menendez was "severely admonished" by the Senate Select Committee on Ethics in 2017, but apparently the majority of Garden State voters weren't paying attention - or couldn't care less.
The list of Mayor Pughs, Rep. Rangels, and Sen. Menendezes could fill a book thousands of pages long. And as long as there is money to be made, power to be seized and abused, and influence to be peddled, that book will continue to grow in size…and stench.
But therein lies the rub. Until politicians who sell their offices for personal gain are unilaterally rejected by the voters, this trend will continue ad nauseum. And until the populace demands that these fakes and frauds be replaced by honest and incorruptible public servants, the revolving door will keep on spinning.
Shame on Mayor Pugh. Shame on Rep. Rangel and Sen. Menendez. And shame on us, the American voters, for putting these charlatans into office...and keeping them there.