With so much attention focused these days on Washington's dysfunction and our divided political system, we sometimes forget the one big thing that brings our elected officials together: money.
Steve Kroft and CBS' "60 Minutes" team visited the capital recently to confront members of Congress over their use of money collected by their Leadership PACs - accounts ostensibly set up to support political activities but which can become slush funds, ripe for abuse. Kroft and company had been trying to sit down with three lawmakers to ask about their specific use of Leadership PAC money, but none were willing to arrange an interview.
"So, we just decided to go down to Washington and try and pigeonhole or doorstop all three of 'em," Kroft said.
What followed is a sight to see. Watch the report to see Rep. Robert Andrews, D-NJ, try to explain why he used $16,000 in political donations to fly his family to Scotland, Rep. Rodney Alexander, R-LA, try to justify his hiring of two relatives for unnecessary positions on his PAC staff, and Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-CA, explain how she collected tens of thousands of dollars in interest -- at 18 percent -- on a $150,000 loan from her personal account to her PAC.
Kroft pulled no punches, perhaps a sign of good things to come. The media and citizens at large need to press harder on our elected officials to eliminate the legal loopholes that permit such abuses. Watch the report, let us know what you think:
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Money in Politics