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This post, written by Howie Klein, originally appeared on Down With Tyranny!
McConnell is infamous in Washington for a number of things, aside from his official duty as Bush's chief obstructionist in the Senate. He's as dirty as they come and, unlike many of his colleagues, he's known for taking bribes from overseas interests. He's been an "unofficial"-- but immensely well-paid-- lobbyist for China for a long time. A new scandal, though, has him taking money from closer to home: a British arms dealer.
The story broke in the Kentucky papers today and it could be a devastating blow to McConnell's already shaky re-election prospects. In a state plagued with severe economic problems, it looks very bad that McConnell was caught earmarking $25 million for a British armsmaker, BAE, "that is under criminal investigation by the U.S. Justice Department and suspected by American diplomats of a 'long-standing, widespread pattern of bribery allegations.'"
According to the story in the Lexington paper "McConnell has taken at least $53,000 in campaign donations from BAE's political action committees and employees since his 2002 re-election." He is suspected of having taken hundreds of thousands of dollars under the table.
Ethics watchdogs say they're surprised McConnell, the Senate Republican leader, would continue to give earmarks and take donations from a corporation in hot water with his own government. McConnell should keep his distance, said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
"Most politicians decide that a scandal is a good time to stop doing business with a company, at least until the scandal is over," Sloan said. "Particularly when we're talking about a criminal investigation over bribery. You would think that a member of Congress would want to steer clear of anyone accused of bribery."
Even without the scandal, it looks bad for a senator to earmark federal money for a corporation, as compared to a public university or a local government in his state, said Ken Boehm, chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center in Washington.
"Why did they need special favors from Senator McConnell instead of going through the usual open competition and budgeting process at the Pentagon?" Boehm asked.
Nor should McConnell take donations from a company to which he steers federal funds, said Boehm, a former Republican congressional aide.
"Contributions from entities that directly benefit from earmarks are a bad idea," he said. "There's a big difference between a company that just likes your general ideas and a company that stands to benefit from one or more transactions that you're making on their behalf using public money."
But the brouhaha over more McConnell bribery allegations could pale compared to rumors leaking out that the long awaited evidence of McConnell's double life as a closet queen is about to be put on the table. Raw Story is reporting tonight that Larry Flynt is on the verge of breaking another sex expose. He told Fox's Neil Cavuto that this one will stand "Washington and the country on its head." Hustler intends to "expose a sex scandal of huge proportions involving a prominent United States Senator." And unless he's talking about Lindsey Graham...