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Scandals Aren't Always Enough to Topple Lawmakers Scandals Aren't Always Enough to Topple Lawmakers

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Blogs / People

Scandals Aren't Always Enough to Topple Lawmakers

November 1, 2012

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., a Democrat from Illinois, hasn't been an active member of Congress since June, and recent sightings have him on two consecutive nights at a bar near his D.C. home. Yet he's going to coast to reelection next week. He doesn't plan on having any kind of victory party.

Jackson is one of many scandal-plagued lawmakers likely to return to Congress; for these lawmakers it almost feels like they couldn't lose an election no matter how hard they tried.

Take Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., who will likely have no trouble defeating his opponent Keith Fitzgerald next week. Buchanan has been at the heart of a series of investigations from the FBI and the IRS involving possible money laundering through his car dealerships and soliciting illegal campaign contributions. It would make sense that if the chief fundraiser of the House Republicans had ethical issues with his fundraising, it might be a problem for his reelection odds. That has not been the case.

"And it could get even worse going forward," says Melanie Sloan, the executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "We are in a time of extreme partisanship, gerrymandered districts, and a lack of compelling alternatives. I can see candidates of decreasing quality being electing and maintaining office."

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