As those who seek to Drain the Swamp know all too well, incumbency is an incredibly powerful weapon that can keep a politician cozily ensconced in a congressional seat no matter how abysmal his or her proven track record may be. Our ruling political establishment uses the connected political networks that come with time served in office to endlessly perpetuate itself. One of the most troubled cities in America today is apparently about to find out whether this signature Swamp privilege extends even beyond the grave.
Maya Rockeymoore, widow of the recently deceased Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), is expected to take over her late husband’s seat, sources have told The Washington Examiner. Rockeymoore is already a figure of some status on the Crabcake State’s political scene. She serves as chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party and launched an unsuccessful bid for governor in 2017. But as Scott Brown famously said when running for the Senate seat in Massachusetts that finally opened up for the first time in almost 47 years after the death of Ted Kennedy in 2009, “it’s not the Kennedys’ seat …. It’s the people’s seat.” Democrats deferring to Cummings’ widow would have us think otherwise.
Legacy of Failure
Elijah Cummings’ tenure as an elected representative goes back 37 years. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1983-1996 and then in the US House from 1996 right up until the moment of his death on October 17, 2019. His congressional district includes a large section of Baltimore. Any honest account of Cummings’ record as a congressman cannot escape the fact that the city he represented in Washington for almost 25 years turned into a crime-infested hellhole under his watch comparable on a scale of blight to the very worst sections of Chicago and Detroit.
Lee Habeeb, a columnist for Newsweek, listed an array of eye-popping statistics in July in explaining why he fled Baltimore. The city appears to be dying. It had a population of 950,000 in 1950, Habeeb reports. That is down to 602,000 today, the lowest level in 100 years. Habeeb notes that USA Today named violence-racked Baltimore as the most dangerous city in America in 2018.
“To understand how bad things really are, Baltimore’s homicide rate in 2018 was 56 per 100,000 people. That tops 50.3 per 100,000 in El Salvador,” Habeeb wrote.
When President Trump pointed out the horrifying conditions in the city, Democrats promptly labeled him a racist. Expressing alarm over the daily misery experienced by a Democrat congressman’s constituents was an act of racial hatred, according to the political allies of a man who represented a town for over two decades as it crumbled into ruins.
While Baltimore Burned
Cummings appears to have been much more adept at playing the DC power game than he ever was in helping hard-pressed Baltimoreans. In May, The National and Legal Policy Center filed an IRS complaint, noting that a charity and a for-profit consulting group run by Rockeymoore had each received millions of dollars over the years from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. This foundation, created by the founder of Johnson & Johnson, is not officially affiliated with the pharmaceutical giant, but the two hold close ties. The foundation is a major shareholder in Johnson & Johnson, for example.
Now keep in mind that congressional heavyweight Cummings chaired a House committee that investigated the high prices of pharmaceutical drugs. Johnson & Johnson has been hit by a rash of lawsuits over allegations that it was a major player in exacerbating the opioid epidemic that has ravaged America. The company reported in April that its first-quarter earnings for 2019 had fallen by 14% in large part due to the enormous legal costs involved in battling these suits. It needs all the friends it can get in Congress. The potential for corruption here is brutally obvious.
Cummings also was caught up in a scandal while serving as ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee in 2014. He was implicated in the alleged misuse of the IRS in targeting the tax-exempt status of a conservative voter fraud organization. IRS emails revealed that Cummings staffers communicated with the agency numerous times in 2012 and 2013 about the group True the Vote. Cummings simply dismissed the congressional probe into IRS targeting of conservative groups during the Obama years as a “witch hunt” and moved on.
He felt similarly about the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s role in leaving Americans defenseless at the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi in 2012. Four Americans died in an attack on the compound, including Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.
“The select committee is on track to last longer than the investigations of Watergate and 9/11 — at a potential cost of more than $6 million,” an irate Cummings said of the congressional probe of Hillary.
This would be the same Cummings who avidly supported the lengthy Mueller Probe of President Trump’s fictitious complicity with Russia to hijack the 2016 election. The Justice Department reported in August that this utterly fruitless enterprise cost taxpayers nearly $32 million.
Yet in the wake of the Mueller fizzle, Cummings called for further investigation of Trump and his administration. “I think that the president needs to slow down in his victory lap because he still faces quite a bit of hurdles with regard to answering for some of the things that he has done over the last two years,” Cummings said at the time. He stated that Congress should demand more documents from the administration and continue its probe beyond the Russia aspect.
To sum up then, Elijah Cummings’ wife raked in millions from a pharmaceutical company for which he had direct oversight in his role as a congressman, his staffers contributed to the targeting of conservative organizations by the IRS, he sought to squelch an investigation into the deaths of four Americans in Libya and he encouraged an endless and massively expensive probe of the Trump administration, all while the city he represented descended into a chaotic nightmare with a homicide rate higher than El Salvador.
For 37 years, the people of Baltimore were grossly ill-served by this prominent Swamp creature. And now his connected wife is perfectly positioned to pick up his bejeweled baton for who knows how many years more. Our leading political establishment figures are so deeply burrowed into the halls of power in our government today that it seems that not even death itself can get them out.