Friday, December 09, 2011

The Last Time a Congressional Committee Subpoenaed Former Senator

The Jon Corzine fraud scheme ("I simply do not know where the money is") that made $1.2 billion disappear without a trace has led to the observation that the last time a former senator has been subpoenaed to testify before Congress was over 100 years ago.

What happened to the money is easy. It was stolen by MF Global bankers to place bets on the futures market trying to win back the money lost in previous bets. Only the gamblers lost that money too.

The more interest question is what happened that last time. 

1908 Electric Boat Scandal
Two former senators, Marion and Matthew Butler (not related), were hauled before a Congressional committee to explain their actions. There were being accused of unscrupulous practice of wining and dining senators to win Navy contracts to build submarines. In other words, what was a scandal in 1908 (former congressmen lobbying their colleagues to gain an unfair advantage, influence peddling) is now such a common practice that many people run for Senate just to get the high paying lobbyist jobs later.

They were an odd couple. Marion was a progressive who wanted the Federal government to nationalize the railroads. He lost his Senate seat when the white supremacy movement swept out North Carolina reformers in 1900.

Matthew made his bones during the 1876 race riot known as the Hamburg Massacre where a black militia protecting the mostly black town of Hamburg, South Carolina was attacked by large mob of well armed whites (they even had cannon). One militiaman was killed during the fighting, others were captured and executed. The subsequent rape, pillage, and arson wiped the town of Hamburg off the face of the earth. Matthew went to the US Senate the next year on, basically, the KKK ticket.
The image on the monument reads "Niggers Reformed at Hamburg, SC"

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