Something in the air seems to have politicians across the country behaving badly, according to the Associated Press.
"Ohio Gov. Bob Taft is hardly the only politician these days to be hit by scandal. He's just the only one to admit he was wrong," Andrew Taylor writes. "House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, is fighting ethics charges. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is too. And two federal lawmakers are under investigation over financial dealings. "
Two members of Congress, one Republican, one Democrat, are also facing charges of serious ethical shortcomings. The FBI has raided the homes of Reps. William Jefferson (D-LA) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-CA) amid charges of influence peddling.
"What's the common thread in this summer of scandal?" Taylor asks. "Money."
Recent polls have shown Congress' lowest approval ratings in a decade. I an AP-Ipsos poll taken at the beginning of August, only 33 percent of respondents said they approve of our lawmakers' performance.
Unfortunately, most of these scandals do not surprise people; they simply reinforce what voters already believe. Still, Taylor writes, there has been an increase in the number of politicians under investigation by the authorities. It remains to be seen whether this will result in a political backlash. Many in Ohio view the recent squeaker of a victory by Republican Jean Schmidt in Ohio's second Congressional district as a sign of things to come in 2006.
Charles Lewis, founder of the Center for Public Integrity, says the recent spate of scandals won't subside until lawmakers prove to their constituents that they can police themselves.
"There is a problem here and it's a substantial problem, and there seems to be very little will by politicians at most levels to face it head on," he said.