AP Poll: Lawmakers' Standing Drops
By THE ASSOCIATED
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Indictments, investigations and a congressman's
guilty plea for taking millions in bribes have left most Americans convinced
that political corruption is a deeply rooted problem, according to an Associated
Missteps and misconduct that have reached into all
levels of government -- from the White House and Congress to governors' offices
in Connecticut and Ohio -- have helped drive 88 percent of those surveyed to say
the problem is a serious one.
Scandal has touched all politicians.
President Bush's approval rating was 42 percent .... Sixty-five percent of
respondents disapproved of lawmakers' work in Washington and only 31 percent
approved, the worst numbers since AP-Ipsos began asking the question in
Several of those interviewed said corruption was endemic to a
political system awash in colossal amounts of lobbying money and beset by an
insatiable demand for campaign cash.
''It's kind of the nature of
politics, working with money and finance, things happen every day that are
questionable,'' said David Innerebner, a conservative-leaning missionary from
In 2004, federal lobbyists spent $2.1 billion -- the
equivalent of the gross domestic product of the Republic of Congo or the amount
the U.S. government spends annually on energy assistance for low-income
Americans. In that same year, candidates pursuing the presidency and seats in
Congress spent more than $3 billion.
''It seems like everything seems to
be corrupted,'' said Sylvia Kind, a dietitian from Akron, Ohio.
the experts who make their careers focused on government ethics and reform were
struck by the strong public perception of politicians.
''From the local
mayor or sheriff all the way up to the president, it means people have a real
distrust of their government,'' said Larry Noble, head of the Center for
Responsive Politics campaign watchdog group.
Added Jan Baran, a
Washington lawyer who specializes in ethics rules and campaign finance: ''The
message to politicians is to get their house in order.''
questioned in the survey had no trouble reciting the names associated with
offenses and inquiries:
--Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay,
R-Texas, faces money laundering charges.
--Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist, R-Tenn., is under a federal investigation for a well-timed stock
--I. Lewis ''Scooter'' Libby, former chief of staff to Vice
President Dick Cheney, has been indicted on five counts of perjury, obstruction
of justice and lying to the FBI in the outing of a CIA officer.
Frist and Libby have said they have done nothing wrong.
Rep. Randy ''Duke'' Cunningham, R-Calif., resigned after pleading guilty to
taking $2.4 million in bribes in exchange for steering government work to
defense contractors. His list of excess included money for a Rolls-Royce,
antique furniture and two Laser Shot shooting simulators. ....
so power hungry they'd do anything to stay in power,'' said Renee Becher, a
51-year-old homemaker from Dahlonega, Ga. ''They've made our country become like
The AP-Ipsos survey found that 91 percent of women consider
corruption a serious problem, compared with 84 percent of men. Overall, 67
percent said the number of people involved in corruption ranges from moderate to
a lot. ....
Associated Press writer Nancy Benac
contributed to this