Burris, Ensign added to watchdog's most corrupt lawmaker list

Sens. Roland Burris (D-Ill.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) have been added to a watchdog's annual list of the most corrupt members of Congress.

Burris and Ensign were not the only new people selected for this year's 15-member list, issued by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Joining the two senators were Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), Nathan Deal (R-Ga.) and Pete Visclosky (D-Ind.).

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Burris and Jackson have been caught up in a wide-ranging scandal surrounding the alleged selling of President Barack Obama's Senate seat by former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who has since been charged by federal prosecutors. Burris has offered conflicting statements on how he came to be appointed to the seat by the disgraced governor, while fundraisers close to Jackson may have tried to buy off Blagojevich for his appointment to Obama's Senate seat.

Along with Burris and Jackson, at least 10 other lawmakers on the list are under investigation, either by the Justice Department, congressional ethics committees or the Federal Election Commission. The list is almost split down the middle between the two parties, with seven Republicans and eight Democrats.

Ensign finds himself on the list due to his affair with a former aide and payments made to her and her husband by the senator's parents. A longtime list resident, Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), is joined by Visclosky due to their ties to the PMA Group, a lobby firm that was raided by the FBI and has since closed down.

The other new addition, Deal, was included because he and aides are alleged to have intervened improperly to keep a no-bid contract with Georgia’s state government in the hands of a business the lawmaker co-owns.

CREW slammed the lawmakers in a statement.

“With the economy in a free-fall, unemployment rates at record highs and healthcare solutions still nowhere in sight, members should be spending their time looking for answers to the nation’s problems, not finding new ways to enrich themselves,” said Melanie Sloan, CREW’s executive director. “The members of Congress profiled in CREW’s Most Corrupt report have betrayed those who voted them into office.”