by Matt Stoller, Wed Apr 19, 2006 at 07:44:51 AM EDT
CREW filed an ethics complaint today a complaint with the DOJ against Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, one of the most conservative members of the House and a clear Republican leader. The complaint alleges three things. One, Sessions urged concessions for the Louisiana Coushatta, a Jack Abramoff client, and then over the next 18 months received $20,500 in contributions from that and other Abramoff connected gaming interests. Two, he accepted a trip to Malaysia from Abramoff lobbying firm Greenberg Traurig and four months later formed a Malaysia caucus in the House. Previously he had no interest in Malaysia. And three, he earmarked millions for a San Francisco firm tech defense firm, Promia, and then received $55,000 over the past six years from executives at that firm for his reelection campaign.
Will Pryor, cousin brother of Democrat Mark Pryor, is running against Sessions, and it's a very tough district for a Democrat.
Sessions first came to Congress in 1996 after losing his first campaign in 1994 by a few points to John Bryant, a Texas Democrat. While Sessions didn't win in 1994, spiritually at least he is part of that group of 'revolutionaries' who ran on a platform of conservative reform. The ideological roots of this group stretch back to the 'New Right' of 1976-1978, and the Goldwater campaigns of 1960 and 1964. What has become very clear is that these are weak men, unable to follow through on the reform they promised. Whether it's Ralph Reed, who accepted $4 million of Jack Abramoff gaming money while denying that he knew the source (released emails show that he's lying), or George Bush increasing spending faster than any President since FDR, it seems that the guiding principle of the conservative movement is the personal weakness of the men who run it.
It is therefore not shocking that a conservative Congressman like Pete Sessions is corrupt, because the conservative movement now reflects the weak and cowardly character of its leadership. They were not strong enough to follow through on their promises in 1994, whether it was term limits, accountability for Congress, or integrity in government. I write this not because I am a liberal, but because I hope that genuine conservatives take back the movement that has deserted and defrauded them. Honest conservatives should be not just as outraged as I am, but more so, for it is not in my name that these people trashed what it means to be a conservative, it is in the name of everyone who thinks of themselves as a law-abiding conservative American.
I don't expect wide conservative outrage over Sessions, or Reed, or Delay, or Bush, of course. I expect reflexive defensiveness, and then I expect conservatives to make excuses and call these leaders 'too liberal', as they are right now doing with Bush and his 'liberal' spending. But I hope that I am wrong. I hope that conservatives take the time to figure out what has gone disastrously wrong in their movement, what has caused their movement to consistently promote and protect men who are too weak and cowardly to make hard choices. I expect more 'authoritarian cultism', as Glenn puts it, a fetish for loyalty even to those who have betrayed their every principle, but again I hope I am wrong, because this country needs a principled and honorable conservative movement, and what we have now is malignancy. Only conservatives can fix this, but the first step is to jettison folks like Sessions.