Ending the culture of corruption the right way
On Friday I received this presser from the Maryland GOP detailing the alleged shady dealings of some powerful state legislators:
General Assembly Democrats’ Culture of Corruption
The cloud around the FBI’s investigation of Senator Ulysses Currie’s proves that the culture of corruption in the General Assembly is alive and well. Just this week, Senate President Thomas V. “Mike” Miller flexed his muscles to make his inexperienced son a leading candidate for a local judgeship while Governor O’Malley played along. Now we find out that Senator Currie is the target of an FBI investigation.
“This is the third FBI investigation of Democratic State Senators in recent years,” said MDGOP Chairman Jim Pelura. “This culture of corruption is a perfect object lesson about the dangers of one-party, monopoly rule.” This startling news comes on top of revelations about Currie’s fellow Democratic Senator Nathaniel Exum and his shady business and political dealings. “When you consider that Sen. Currie, along with Governor O’Malley, raised substantial campaign funds during the November 2007 Special Session, while he was chairing the committee dealing directly with the tax increases and budget expenditures, this allegation of corruption is quite disturbing,” said Pelura.
“It would be prudent, in my estimation, that Senator Currie step down from his post as Chairman of the Budget and Taxation Committee, at least until this situation is resolved,” Pelura concluded. “The people of Maryland place their trust and faith in honest government but unfortunately, the question is not whether we will discover another corrupt, Democratic legislator, but when?”
While I agree with Pelura that the dealings of both Senators Currie and Exum fall far short of behavior that is both proper and should be second nature to those in whom we place the public’s trust, the sad reality is that at all levels, both major parties have had their share of corrupt or improper dealings. While the Democrats have Senator Currie, our side had Delegate McKee (although McKee had the decency to resign when the FBI investigated him.) On a national level, we point to Rep. William “Cold Cash” Jefferson of Louisiana but the Democrats can rebut the argument with former Congressmen Bob Ney of Ohio or Duke Cunningham of California.
My argument is that we’re only looking at this problem from the tired old standpoint of graft, and in a Democrat machine state like Maryland it’s only graft if you’re caught – otherwise it’s sharing the wealth and “getting us poor folks what we rightfully deserve.” Factor in that both Currie and Exum are black, and any attempt to uncover corruption by this pair can and will be blamed by some diehard supporters on “The Man trying to keep us down.” That’s not to say that we in the Maryland GOP shouldn’t point out the foibles of this not-so-dynamic duo, but we need to make this a two-pronged approach.
The other argument that can and should be made is that leaving so much largesse at the disposal of those in state government naturally leads to trouble. It’s time once again to remind the public of that Republican principle which holds, “the proper role of government is to provide for the people only those critical functions that cannot be performed by individuals or private organizations and that the best government is that which governs least.” Less money and power in government, less temptation to try and get one’s hands on it themselves or enrich one’s self by steering it to newfound friends. It’s something that Governor O’Malley and his cronies have worked on perfecting, and obviously our goal for 2010 is to cut the gravy train off at the pass.
It is only because Maryland has the insulation of federal government jobs that we’re not spiraling down the same path as Michigan and its “one-state recession” brought on by higher taxes and more government wealth transfer. While Governor O’Malley likes to talk about “One Maryland”, in truth there’s really at least two. There’s the “blue” part along the I-95 corridor which depends on big government to keep it afloat and the “red” part (namely Western Maryland and the Eastern Shore) that’s struggling now because taxation and a business-unfriendly climate have combined to hold back prosperity and job growth in those industries each region depends on.
While it’s difficult to put the brakes on runaway spending when you have such a small minority in the General Assembly, it’s up to us to find examples of where things can be corrected and combining the aspect of corruption with the idea that it was caused by having too large of a state government may begin to swing those voters in the middle closer to our side.
Crossposted on monoblogue.