Congressman Ron Paul has been called many things by his supporters and detractors alike, but rarely is his integrity or honesty ever questioned. This is why I was so surprised to discover that the watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics (CREW) label Paul as one of the most corrupt members of Congress.
According to the report, Paul "double-billed" his travel expenses multiple times over the last decade. This means that Paul was re-imbursed for his flights by his Congressional allowance and by either non-profit groups under his control or his campaign committee. And according to Liberty Committee President David James, Paul has been "double-billing" more than half of his trips since 2004.
First of all, the story is very speculative. If you actually take a look at the report that CREW filed, the language clearly states that Paul may have been involved in double-billing, not is or was involved. The accusations seem highly cavalier. And if Paul's management history is any measure, then CREW's findings would be quite the exception.
Not only did Paul, as a doctor and private citizen, provide medical care free of charge (or for barter) to poor patients in his community and refuse to take a cent of Medicare or Medicaid, his 2012 presidential campaign was also a reflection of his fiscally responsible philosophy. According to ProPublica, Paul's campaign was the model of transparency, detailing “[e]very bank fee, every 22 cents at a FedEx, every $1 toll on the Florida turnpike, every $5.09 pit stop at Starbucks, every Dunkin' doughnut – it's all right there, itemized in the Paul campaign's copious expenditure reports."
But let's just say for a moment that CREW's allegations are all true. Paul, while talking tirelessly about fiscal conservatism and fighting for the taxpayer, greedily overcharged and double-billed his travel expenses. Does this make Paul "corrupt?" Perhaps. These actions are fraudulent and waste taxpayer money. But if this qualifies a Congressman as corrupt, what does this say about the rest of Congress? If Paul is one of the most corrupt members of Congress, then we'd have to invent a new word to describe the depravity of the rest of them.
While Paul was busy laughing and counting the hundreds of extra dollars CREW is accusing him of stealing, the rest of Congress was taking bribes — er, campaign donations — from large corporations to enact beneficial legislation, passing bailouts of large banks and the auto industry, passing bills that nullify the Bill of Rights, ceding their constitutional war powers to the president, raising taxes, creating deficits, excusing torture, and in general, making a mockery of the legal oath they swore to defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution.
If Paul is "corrupt," then the rest of Congress is outright criminal.
Only time will tell if these allegations against Paul are true, and perhaps this is my pro-Paul bias coming through, but I think it is more of a smear-piece against a man leaving political life than a general concern over the behavior of an elected official. Paul has been attacked repeatedly throughout his career for his refusal to toe the party-line and rub elbows with lobbyists, but Paul can retire in peace knowing that his legacy, and the revolution he has helped spawn, are in tact.