Democrats’ 2018 message: Republicans are corrupt

Lauren Mitchell, Lead Reporter

Upcoming elections for Congress will have a huge impact on the remaining two years of President Donald Trump’s presidency.

House Republicans have been plagued with a number of high-profile scandals, all unfolding within the finals months of this election year. After Democrats unveiled one of their major campaign messages for 2018, their promise to “drain the swamp” may indeed be fulfilled.

Democrats need to win 24 House seats to retake the chamber, and they have made corruption in Trump’s Washington a campaign theme.

Three Republicans are under investigation for various misuses of their office and campaigns which could very well be the difference between a Republican and a Democratic House. One or two elections could put House control into the hands of either party.

In Virginia’s Second Congressional District, Republican Representative Scott Taylor’s campaign is facing forgery allegations.

Taylor’s campaign staffers have been accused of submitting forged signatures for dozens of voters – including several deceased people. The goal is to split the Democratic vote between independent candidate, Shaun Brown, and Democratic candidate, Elaine Luria.

The criminal investigation is ongoing, with Taylor being subpoenaed to testify about what he knew about the scheme.  

But Virginia is far from being the only issue to arise for the Republican party. Scandals are looming everywhere this election cycle.

In New York, Rep. Chris Collins has been indicted for insider trading. In California, Rep. Duncan Hunter is also facing charges for allegedly using campaign money to pay for his family’s lavish lifestyle.

Collins was arrested by the FBI alongside his son and the father of his son’s fiancee on insider trading charges. Facing 13 counts of wire fraud, securities fraud and making false statements to the FBI, Collin was charged over his connections with Australian biotech company, Immunotherapeutics.

“Collins, who, by virtue of his office, helps write the laws of this country, acted as if the law did not apply to him,” US Attorney Geoffrey Berman said at a news conference.

Last October, the Office of Congressional Ethics reported it found “substantial reason to believe,” Collins had been using his position to benefit the company and solicit investors. Lawmakers have also told reporters that Collins has urged his colleagues to invest in the company while on the House floor.

A number of Republican members of Congress are also investors in the company, including Texas Reps. John Culberson and Mike Conaway.

The FBI is currently investigating Rep. Duncan Hunter along with his wife Margaret Hunter, for over a year, with a jury questioning lobbyists, former staff members, and family members. A 47-page indictment disclosed the family that was spending lavish amounts of money which were extremely out of their means. It was all funded by illegal money from campaign funds.

“Throughout the relevant period, the Hunters spent substantially more than they earned,” the indictment reads, citing more than 1,000 bank overdraft fees in a seven-year time span and the family repeatedly maxing out credit cards. At the center of the indictment is Hunter’s wife, whom the lawmaker installed as his paid campaign manager because the family “needed the extra money,” the indictment states.

Hunter has maintained his innocence during this time, while his office has accredited these expenses as mistakes. Hunter sold his family home and moved his wife and kids back in order to repay improper use, according to Politico. As well as largely blaming his wife for the illicit spending.

The Democrat’s current platform is reminiscent of their 2006 campaign. A midterm election that came after yet another historic Republican corruption scandal, resulting in Democratic in the House as well as a majority of government positions.

A poll conducted by the Center for American Progress found that 54 percent of voters across 48 Republican-held congressional districts said the GOP was “more corrupt” than Democrats; 46 percent said Democrats were more corrupt.

With a number of high-profile corruption scandals plaguing the Republican Party, Democrats are once again in a pivotal moment in history which could make or break Trump’s presidency.