PBS SPECIALMoyer's on America : "Capitol Crimes"Wed Oct 4, 2006 15:44Moyer's on America
October 4, 2006
"It's a dizzying scope of perfidy and politics that boggles the imagination, and although Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay have been brought down, the system remains as vulnerable as ever," says Moyers.
Tonight, Bill Moyers returns to investigative journalism with MOYERS ON AMERICA, taking on crucial issues facing our nation. The premiere episode, "Capitol Crimes", investigates the Abramoff lobbying scandal, revealing the web of relationships, secret deals and political manipulation and opening a disturbing window on the dark side of American politics.
The fall of Jack Abramoff has exposed a huge web of corruption that still remains vastly unreported by the broadcast media, even as prosecutors continue to chase down leads and quiz insiders and witnesses. Moyers and his colleagues untangle emails, reports, interviews and facts on the record to provide viewers with a coherent pattern of criminal and political chicanery. The documentary is followed by a discussion led by Moyers with leading thinkers about the possible solutions for America's political system.
Watch an excerpt from MOYERS ON AMERICA: Capitol Crimes.
"It's a dizzying scope of perfidy and politics that boggles the imagination, and although Jack Abramoff and Tom DeLay have been brought down, the system remains as vulnerable as ever," says Bill Moyers. "The scale of corruption still coming to light dwarfs anything since Watergate. In one sense it's the age-old tale of greed, but greed encouraged now by the way our system works. Deep in the plea agreements of Jack Abramoff and his cronies is the admission that they conspired to use campaign contributions to bribe politicians; campaign finance is at the core of the corruption. They took great pains to cover their tracks, and they might have pulled it off except for a handful of honest people, and the work of some enterprising print reporters, Senate investigators, and the ethics team at the department of justice. Following the money in this story leads through a bizarre maze of cocktail parties, golf courses, private jets, four-star restaurants, sweatshops - and the aura of chandeliered rooms frequented by the high and mighty of Washington."
With the MOYERS ON AMERICA series, we inaugurate the Citizens Class, an extensive, interactive curriculum designed to encourage and facilitate public discourse on the issues raised in the series. The workshop features multimedia discussions, reference materials on the key perspectives presented in the program, and questions for further reflection - all designed to stimulate deep and thoughtful community dialogue. Interested? Check it out. In search of specific information? Just browsing? Select topics below to explore a range of issues, from congressional ethics to the growth of lobbying in recent years to proposals for changing the system of money and politics in America. Check it out.
In search of specific information? Just browsing? Select topics below to explore a range of issues, from the Congressional ethics to the growth of lobbying in recent years to proposals for changing the system of money and politics in America.
A recent poll found that only 25% of American were satisfied with the job Congress is doing for them. Questions over ethics may play a part in that low rating. Just what are the rules that are meant to ensure that elected representatives aren't swayed by constituents or special interests? The House of Representatives own Web site publishes a list of FAQs for its members. Among the most asked questions:
* A state university in the Member's home state has offered the Member tickets to one of its basketball games. Can the Member accept?
* A long-time friend of mine who is also a lobbyist has offered me the use of his Ocean City condo for a few days. Can I accept?
* The Member has been invited to play golf by an acquaintance who belongs to a country club, and under the rules of the country club, the guest of a club member plays without any fee. Since the host will pay nothing, can the Member accept the invitation to play free of charge?
The close ties of many lawmakers with the now disgraced Jack Abramoff has many Americans wondering about Congress' commitment to its own ethics rules. This situation wasn't helped when on November 17, 2004 House members approved a change to party rules which some saw as a strategy designed solely to allow Majority leader Tom DeLay to retain his leadership post even if he were indicted by a Texas grand jury on state political corruption charges. The change was put into effect in January 2005 by the members of the new 109th Congress.
Under the prior rules, if the Ethics Committee's five Republicans and five Democrats deadlocked on whether to begin an investigation, the investigation would automatically go forward. The new rule required a majority vote, which meant at least one member would have had to cross party lines for an ethics investigation to proceed. Critics contended that this cross-over was unlikely and would effectively shield DeLay from investigation. The rules change itself, and a spate of news stories suggesting additional ethics violations by DeLay, led to a backtrack. On April 26, 2005, House Republican leaders rescinded the controversial rule change. Golf trips figure prominently in the Abramoff scandal, but the question of congressional travel is receiving scrutiny on many levels. Explore the ramifications in the Citizens Class. Or explore the Senate and House ethics rules online.
Join the Citizens Class discussion
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