Claude Walker | Bicentennial-By-Buttons

Gallery #5 – BUSTED! Congress-critters

Rosty-farian Congressional Flashback (1978) Rosty-farian flashback

They harder they come, etc. Savvy guys at the peak of their powers (Denny Hastert, Dan Rostenkowski). Ambitious guys who should’ve known better (Mel Reynolds, Jesse Jackson, Jr.).

Some great lines from our Boys in the Beltway: Henry Hyde’s “youthful indiscretions”. Aaron Schock‘s “Haters gonna hate.” Jesse Junior’s “social acquaintance”. Rosty’s “I mail a lot.”

Their misdeeds were wide-ranging and bizarre: $7,000 in elks’ heads, Downton Abbey décor, groping a Peace Corps volunteer, $50,000 laundered through the House Post Office, solicitation of child porn, hush money, obstruction of justice, Bruce Lee memorabilia, witness-tampering and - this being Illinois - brazen ghost-payrolling (32nd Ward Style).

One “family values” guy claimed his tryst with a 17-year old page was OK since the age of consent in Virginia is 16 (off the hook legally, but he was censured by the House and returned to Danville dentistry).

There are the usual shady land deals, sex-capades and personal use of campaign cash, as chronicled in Corrupt Illinois: Patronage, Cronyism and Criminality by Tom Gradel and Dick Simpson. Get it.

- Claude Walker. Bicentennial-by-Buttons: 200 Years of Trailblazers, Rascals and Felons

                JJ Jr Free Rosty

Rostenkowski was sentenced to 17 months and was later pardoned by President Clinton. Jackson was sentenced to 30 months. While neither ever had a serious opponent and both enjoyed electoral success at a young age, they had very different paths to power. Taciturn Rosty came up through Ward politics, while JJ Jr., was sleekly comfortable on the national stage. Oddly, both of these convicted Congress-critters had political fathers (Jesse, Sr., and “Big Joe Rusty”) and should have known better.


Tip: “Mistah President, if ya ever need some stamps…”  Rosty: “I mail a lot.”

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