A congressional watchdog has named 17 lawmakers to its "most corrupt" members of Congress list.
The seventh annual report by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) lists 13 members — 9 Republicans and 4 Democrats — as having allegedly violated congressional ethics rules or criminal laws, such as illegally using campaign contributions or failing to disclose accurate financial records.
Based off media articles, public financial and travel records and court documents, the report also gives “dishonorable mentions” to 4 lawmakers: Reps. Bill Owens (D-N.Y.), Peter Roskam (R-Ill.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill.), and John Tierney (D-Mass.). — for allegedly using their offices for personal gain.
The Ethics panel recently declined to continue its investigation of Tierney, saying that they found no evidence that he intentionally violated House rules by not disclosing on his financial disclosure reports money that was given to him and his wife by family members.
Other House members listed in the report include: Reps. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Paul Broun (R-Ga.), Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Scott Desjarlais (R-Tenn.), Michael Grimm (R-N.Y.), Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), and David Valadao (R-Calif.).
CREW also names Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).
McConnell was caught in a compromising position earlier this year when a secretly recorded conversation was leaked to the media. Campaign staff for McConnell had been conducting opposition research on two of his political opponents and credited several of the leader’s congressional staff with helping.
“If Sen. McConnell used Senate staff or resources to conduct opposition research against potential campaign opponents, he may have engaged in conduct reflecting unfavorably upon the Senate,” states CREW’s report.
McConnell’s office has rebutted the charges that his aides violated federal law and Senate rules, stating that any assistance to the campaign by congressional staffers happened on their own time, as allowed under law and the chamber’s rules.
The allegations against Menendez center around his relationship with his friend and campaign donor, Salomon Melgen. Menendez accepted and failed to initially report at least two flights from Melgen, a wealthy Florida doctor. Menendez eventually reimbursed Melgen for the cost of the flights — nearly $60,000 — earlier this year after an ethics complaint had been filed by a political rival.
CREW also makes mention of a New York Times article which drew attention to the fact that Menendez helped advocate for the enforcement of a government contract with a company that Melgen had a stake in.
Additionally, The Washington Post raised questions with an article earlier this year that detailed Menendez’s attempt to intervene with government healthcare agencies over nearly $9 million in repayments on Melgen’s behalf.
Menendez has denied any wrongdoing and news of the scandal has fallen silent as federal authorities and the Senate Ethics Committee continue to probe the matter.