By Tony Farkas
Years and years ago, I worked for a gentleman who essentially used the business as a personal bank account.
Over his 15 years running the show, he had bought vehicles, RVs, property, renovation materials and paid for personal expenses, all at the expense of the firm and its employees.
He eventually was investigated, arrested and convicted for embezzlement. Even so, we lived with that knowledge and the effect it had on our paychecks and (lack of) benefits for a decade and a half.
So it was with interest that I read that a sitting member of Congress ended up in a similar boat recently.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the recent development whereby George Santos, a U.S. congressman from New York, was expelled from Congress.
In an awfully big nutshell, Santos was accused of using his position for personal gain and telling lies about his background, such as where he worked and went to school.
He was reimbursing himself from re-election funds for loans that were never made, used campaign funds for such necessary things as Botox treatments, personal travel expenses and lying to donors, only to take the donations and buy things from Hermes, a high-end retailer, and OnlyFans, a subscription site for videos.
The similarities between the two examples are striking in that both people thought the money they generated, either through campaign donors or sales, was essentially part of a personal bank account and not necessarily specific to their work. Additionally, it took a lot of time for the chickens to come home to roost.
Also, it seems that the comeuppance faced by these two is rare, the exception instead of the rule.
In the case of my former employer, his claim was he only did what everyone else was doing. If you read news reports like I do, you can see that Santos most likely was just the latest example and only got caught because he wasn’t as circumspect as he should have been.
Throughout U.S. history, there have been only six members of Congress who have been expelled, three of which were done during the Civil War. That means that only three members have been found to have performed acts egregious enough to merit expulsion.
Three. That to me is nuts.
For instance, Sen. Bob Menendez, who was actually indicted on federal corruption charges, is still a sitting senator, even after a second indictment came down this year regarding classified information.
Other members of Congress seem to have used their positions to play the stock market to their advantage.
Then there’s the Biden family, which seems to have quite a bit of evidence mounting against them regarding influence peddling, bribery and extortion. So far, the only movement there is discussions about opening an impeachment inquiry.
It wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to think there isn’t more examples of malfeasance by elected officials; if you were to add in the hired help, such as the people working in federal agencies, I’m sure there would be even more issues.
Some politicians look to ramp up oversight, and that’s fine, but that’s a dike that might not be able to be plugged. We as voters need to do our own oversight at the ballot box and not accept the status quo.
Tony Farkas writes opinion articles. The views expressed here are his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.