Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Profiles in Corruption - Peter Schweizer

Peter Schweizer’s Profiles in Corruption is not an easy book to read, especially in today’s political environment of constant fighting, name-calling, and finger-pointing. Maybe it’s always been this way, maybe not, but today’s political class, regardless of party affiliation, seems suddenly to have way more than its share of hypocrites, liars, cheaters, and sexual predators.


Profiles in Corruption takes a long, hard look at eight of the worst offenders. I do wish that, for the sake of his own credibility, Schweizer had not concentrated his efforts exclusively on “progressives” who, with the exception of Bernie Sanders, are all card-carrying Democrats. (This is, however, a well-documented and cited book with hundreds of source references.) Political corruption is a problem for Democrats and Republicans alike – and whatever it is that Sanders calls himself in private. How else to explain all the newly-minted multi-millionaires who earn their fortunes never having held a single job outside of government during their entire adult lives?


Schweizer’s eight profiles are in this order: Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar, and Eric Garcetti. None of what the author discloses about any of the eight is particularly surprising to anyone who’s been paying much attention to what goes on around them. None of what any of the eight have done to enrich themselves and their immediate families at the expense of the taxpayer is particularly creative, either. They are doing the kind of things that politicians like them were guilty of more than 100 years ago, and they are using pretty much the same old playbook to do it.


Every allegation and point that follows is documented in the book.


Perhaps most disconcerting of all the disclosures, is the selective justice wielded by some when they were still public prosecutors with the power to decide which cases would be prosecuted and which would be ignored. You guessed it: ignored most often were big-donor white collar criminals often also doing business with members of the prosecutors’ families. Making each other rich and/or keeping the prosecutor in a powerful position was more important than guilt or innocence. Particularly good at this little game, it seems, were Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren, and Amy Klobuchar.


Peter Schweizer
Two of the eight, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, stand out as much for their utter hypocrisy as for their unethical behavior. Both men brand themselves defenders of the common man and claim the working class as their base, but both have become wealthy elitists in the process of “working” for their constituency. Biden has made himself, his three children, and his siblings wealthy by so willingly selling his political influence through businesses and boards run by relatives. Sanders and family have become wealthy by funneling campaign contributions to companies headed by his daughter, and by allowing his wife to bankrupt a small private college even as she profited handily from her job as president of the school. Even as a young Vermont mayor, Sanders  made a spot on the city payroll for his then-girlfriend, and then gave her a huge raise when she became his wife. And then there are the books that so many politicians, Sanders among them, write to huge advances so that their political committees can buy them up with donated funds for distribution to backers. According to Schweizer, Sanders has pulled off this particular trick three times. (This appears to be a common scam among “big name” politicians.)


With Sherrod Brown, it’s his unblinking pay-for-play game with America’s largest unions in which the Senator is always eager to back bills that are bad for consumers and taxpayers but good for unions. For Eric Garcetti, It’s shady real estate deals in and around Los Angeles that made him so rich and powerful. With Cory Booker, it’s a heavy duty pay-for-play scheme from his days in New Jersey that made him rich and powerful.


Bottom Line: Profiles in Corruption will make you as sad as it makes you angry. It’s hard to read that so many of America’s most prominent politicians are such petty, dishonest hypocrites. But now it’s time for a look at some prominent Republicans, because I suspect the result will be just as saddening and irritating as the disclosures in Profiles in Corruption.


  1. Sam, thanks for your call for bipartisanship when it comes to calling out corruption!

    1. Thanks for that, Bill. I feared giving the impression that I was taking a side here. I read the book cover-to-cover and it is compelling primarily because it is so well documented. I don't doubt for a minute that a similar book can be written featuring prominent Republicans - and I wish that Schweizer would do exactly that.

  2. Why I am a fan of Andrew Yang. I really hate politics.

    1. Me, too...and it's probably why he didn't get more traction than he did. I was very impressed by his persona and his ideas.

    2. And in a way, I am happy he is still not running. He is doing awesome stuff to help people. I like the idea of people doing the work the gov should be doing, but is too bloated and partisan to do so.
      Also, I was afraid of racism if he got much further. I have two South Korean born kids, and one of them has dealt with it more than the other.
      So, I'm happy he is doing good work and spending more time with his wife and two sons.

    3. What you say reminds me of a quote in the book that referenced the old saying about "power corrupting." The author twisted the original truism around a bit and said something like "Power attracts the corruptible." I think that hits the nail smack on the head.

      Mr. Yang has a lot going for him and he doesn't need the job, especially if he continues doing the kind of things you referenced.