The Republican Excuse-O-Meter

This fall’s top five scandal-tinged congressmen and their “official” reasons for retiring.

Illustration: Gordon Studer

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Of the more than two dozen retiring members of Congress, some will be dearly missed (Godspeed, Chuck Hagel!), while others…not so much. Democrats are absent from our list not because they have a franchise on good behavior (we’re talking to you, “Dollar” Bill Jefferson), but because few are retiring this year and none of them are actually under indictment.

Rep. John Doolittle (R-Calif.)
Why: Under investigation in connection with the Jack Abramoff and Brent Wilkes scandal
In His Words: “I needed to not run again.”
About Time: His long history of blurring congressional and family business included paying his wife nearly $200,000 in fundraising commissions.

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.)
Why: Passing the torch to Duncan Jr.
In His Words: As Hunter mounted a doomed campaign for the presidency, a spokesman announced, “Congressman Hunter does not intend to run for two offices simultaneously.”
About Time: With ties to Brent Wilkes and Duke Cunningham, Hunter has long been accused of swapping earmarks for campaign cash. Duncan Jr. seems poised to follow in his father’s footsteps, already receiving contributions from the beneficiaries of Hunter-sponsored earmarks.

Rep. Rick Renzi (R-Ariz.)
Why: 35 excellent reasons, according to his indictment
In His Words: No comment.
About Time: Fraud, conspiracy, money laundering, extortion…’nuff said.

Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.)
Why: Ask his Nicaraguan real estate agent.
In His Words: “I need to give my family the time needed to be a full-time dad and full-time husband.”
About Time: Accused of using his congressional clout for private profit, Weller masked the extent of his Central American land dealings.

Rep. Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.)
Why: Got caught
In His Words: “[I] need to concentrate on healing the wounds that I have caused to my wife and family.”
About Time: Before he was felled by a drunk driving and adultery scandal, Fossella had a rep for mixing business with pleasure, using campaign funds for things like ski lessons for his family.

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GREAT JOURNALISM, SLOW FUNDRAISING

Our team has been on fire lately—publishing sweeping, one-of-a-kind investigations, ambitious, groundbreaking projects, and even releasing “the holy shit documentary of the year.” And that’s on top of protecting free and fair elections and standing up to bullies and BS when others in the media don’t.

Yet, we just came up pretty short on our first big fundraising campaign since Mother Jones and the Center for Investigative Reporting joined forces.

So, two things:

1) If you value the journalism we do but haven’t pitched in over the last few months, please consider doing so now—we urgently need a lot of help to make up for lost ground.

2) If you’re not ready to donate but you’re interested enough in our work to be reading this, please consider signing up for our free Mother Jones Daily newsletter to get to know us and our reporting better. Maybe once you do, you’ll see it’s something worth supporting.

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