October 2, 1980: The first time since the US Civil War, a member of Congress is expelled. Michael Joseph Myers was a politician from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Prior to entering politics, he was a longshoreman. He was first elected a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1971 and served until 1976 when he took his seat in the US House of Representatives. He was regarded as a “maverick” from the beginning of his time in office. Is first brush with the law came in 1979 when he beat up a security guard and a 19-year-old female cashier as they rode in an elevator. The two had complained about his loud music at a party. He punched and kicked them and eventually was convicted of disorderly conduct (after pleading no contest to the charges) and got a six month suspended sentence.
On August 22, 1979 Myers was videotaped accepting a $50,000 bribe from an undercover FBI agent. As part of the Abscam investigation, he was heard on tape saying, “Money talks and bullshit walks.” The FBI’s sting operation code named Abscam, a contraction of “Arab scam” was a two year investigation which initially targeted trafficking in stolen property and corruption of businessmen. It was later used to investigate public corruption. The FBI was helped by the Justice Department and a convicted con-man and videotaped various politicians taking bribes from a fraudulent Arabian company in return for political favors.
There were over 30 political figures investigated with six member of the House and one from the Senate of the US Congress convicted. Others in high offices outside the federal government were also involved. Melvin Weinberg, a convicted swindler exchanged his help for being kept out of prison. He and his girlfriend helped the FBI create a fake company called Abdul Enterprises. FBI agents posed a Arab sheikhs who were hoping to invest millions of dollars in the US. One of their early stings was waylaid when they were told that a good investment would be casinos in New Jersey and they could get the necessary licenses for a price. The investigation switched from crooked businessmen to crooked politicians.
Myers was introduced to the Abdul agents by Angelo Errichetti, mayor of Camden, New Jersey. Errichetti was the first politician to be caught in the Abscam net. Myers was the first Congressperson to be convicted. A vote was taken in the House as to whether or not to expel Myers and with a vote of 376 to 30 (with the rest abstaining, including other Representatives also caught up in the case), he was the first to be kicked out since 1861. Other politicians either lost their 1980 election bids or retired from their positions. Myers was convicted of bribery and conspiracy and was sentenced to three years in prison in 1981.
Wait a minute, what you are suggesting may be illegal. – Larry Pressler when offered a bribe
I do not consider myself a hero… what have we come to if turning down a bribe is ‘heroic’? – Larry Pressler
I’ve got larceny in my blood. I’d take it in a goddamn minute. – John Jenrette when an undercover FBI agent offered a bribe
I’m not interested, I’m sorry. At this point… – John Murtha when offered a bribe
Also on this day: HMS Beagle – In 1836, Charles Darwin returned to England.
Forgiveness – In 2006, Charles Carl Roberts murdered five young girls at an Amish schoolhouse.
Queen Mary vs Curacao – In 1942, the two British ships collided.
Aw, Nuts! – In 1950, Peanuts began.
Parsley Massacre – In 1937, Rafeal Trujillo called for mass murder.