Top 10 Ethics Scandals of 2009

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


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.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate