What Possesses Politicians To Steal?
by Anthony Stasi
Sep 23, 2015 | 10383 views | 0 0 comments | 196 196 recommendations | email to a friend | print
With Assemblyman William Scarborough relinquishing his seat following a corruption scandal, the 29th Assembly District has a two-party race on tap. The odds are likely with the Democratic Party’s nominee Alicia Hyndman, but the fact that the Republicans have a candidate in Scherie Murray is significant. There is no district that should be a “given” for a party.

Scarborough was found to have submitted faulty vouchers for expenses to the tune of $40,000. Not to make light of this crime, but $40,000? Ideally, we do not want any elected official syphoning off money, but to throw a successful career away for $40,000 makes one wonder what some public officials are thinking when they do things like this.

There are cases on both sides of the aisle, and the expenses are almost always unnecessary. Congressman Duke Cunningham, a war hero Republican from California, resigned for similar theft totaling a lot more than Scarborough.

The story of fraud by elected officials is rarely one where they are stealing to pay for a family member’s medical bills. It is almost always for some ridiculous purpose.

Most politicians work hard – harder than many people in their districts. They put in crazy long hours, but they are also paid well, or at least well enough, to not steal. Do we elect dishonest people, or do they become dishonest after they get the job?

It is good that the 29th District has a two-party race. Assembly races are tough for Republican candidates because the party knows that even if their candidate wins, the party is still so far back in the minority that it may not matter on policy issues.

This is an unhealthy mindset for parties. The race in the 29th is good for Queens and the state.

Supreme Court Nominees Need More Attention in Debates

There was a moment in last week’s Republican presidential debate where there was less fanfare than substance – just a moment.

When former Florida governor Jeb Bush explained how he would approach nominating Supreme Court justices, he gave a nod to something political scientists have been talking about in recent years.

It has become all too typical for incumbent presidents to tap nominees who do not have too much mileage in the bench, and thus cannot be questioned too greatly about those decisions.

It is politically expedient to have a nominee that gets okayed in the Senate quickly. If the process drags, it is a sign of weakness. Bush, in describing what he thought of the nomination of Chief Justice John Roberts, basically alluded that there was not enough known about Roberts to have made him the nominee.

This is what these debates have become; looking for moments, short instances, where there is less hyperbole and more policy know-how. The nomination of Supreme Court justices is one of the most important issues in a presidential race, and it rarely gets enough discussion.

There are voters who might rather vote Democratic, but will not because they do not want a liberal nominee to the High Court. Some voters side with the GOP on a lot of things, but will not give the Republicans another choice on the Supreme Court. Nominations to the Supreme Court are a very big deal, and yet the process is not discussed enough because it is not juicy debate fodder.

Most mainstream voters think less about the Supreme Court than they do about other issues, but when you consider that these jurists make decisions on privacy and rights, nothing is more important. They decide when there is constitutional debate.

In 2009, according to Gallup, 76 percent of Americans had faith in the judicial branch. In 2015, that number fell to 53 percent. That is a huge drop, and I wonder if this is a new downward trend.

The question of how government goes about vetting nominees should be front and center. For a candidate that has been less and less visible in this race, Jeb Bush made a modicum of sense on the right way to go about it.
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