They've failed to prevent terrorist attacks, gone to war illegally, let entire cities get washed away, and broken every imaginable law of the constitution, and gotten away with all of it. But now they're in trouble:
About five months ago, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that lobbyist Brent Wilkes (co-conspirator #1 in the Duke Cunningham scanal) knew how to "grease the wheels" of Congress with cash, gifts, favors, and yes, "hospitality suites":
Wilkes befriended other legislators, too. He ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in Washington - first in the Watergate Hotel and then in the Westin Grand near Capitol Hill.
Hotline picked up on it, and we wondered aloud here whether the bedrooms hinted at a sex scandal about to blow up on Capitol Hill, or whether there was a more benign explanation. After all, no member of Congress would be stupid enough to, well, prostitute himself and the legislative process by accepting the services of a hooker bought and paid for by lobbyists, right?
Well, folks, we may have ourselves a genuine sex scandal.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that there is enough evidence of a lobbyist-sponsored prostitution ring that investigators are scurrying across D.C., trying to figure out exactly which lawmakers were involved:
In recent weeks, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have fanned out across Washington, interviewing women from escort services, potential witnesses and others who may have been involved in the arrangement.
Prosecutors were tipped off about the sex-for-favors scheme by Mitchell Wade, who has already plead guilty to bribing Cunningham and is cooperating with investigators. Wilkes, through his attorney, has denied any involvement.
Ken Silverstein at Harper's blog dropped a bombshell last night about just how far-reaching the scandal may be, revealing that the FBI is investigating former lawmakers, including "one person who now holds a powerful intelligence post." TPM Muckraker points out that CIA Director Porter Goss fits that description perfectly. Silverstein also disclosed that there are pictures.
It seemed, as Markos said when Hotline first reported on the hospitality suites, "insanely improbable" that the culture of corruption included a lobbyist-sponsored prostitution ring. Yet five months later, here we are, firmly outside of tinfoil hat territory, reading about a Republican sex scandal in the pages of the Wall Street Journal.
Best part of all is that it was at the Watergate Hotel.