September 4th, 2010
03:35 PM ET

Letters to the President: #593 'Ethics? Uh…no thanks…'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Barack Obama spoke of restoring integrity to government when he campaigned. But apparently, he didn’t speak loudly enough for everyone in Congress to hear.

Dear Mr. President,

I listened to an interview that we had on AC360 this week with Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson from Texas, and I thought my head might actually explode. In case you missed it, she admits she gave charitable scholarships to family members instead of to other folks in her district, and she says she’s sorry about it. Says she made a mistake.

Related: Reporter weighs in on lawmaker's claims

But the part that drives me up a pole is that she suggested the reason this happened was that she just didn’t understand the rules connected to the program. What? How is it possible that anyone, including a member of Congress, would not realize that this could be wrong? Does anyone actually need a rule book to know that tossing money from a charity to family and friends is wrong? “I’m sorry Annie, you’ll have to go back to the orphanage; turns out I have a niece…”

But here is the thing: I don’t think this congresswoman would have even tried to fly that kite, if she weren’t in an environment that remains far too willing to turn a blind eye to questionable behavior, and equally willing to accept spurious explanations. Over my three decades of reporting the news, this has been a constant. In seats of power, from City Hall to the top levels of federal government, far too often I’ve found people who clearly feel it is a reasonable perk of the office to give themselves and their pals little rewards from time to time. And usually, the justification is something like what we’ve heard in this matter: “Well, it’s not illegal” or “the rules don’t actually forbid it,” or “I’m doing so much good for the public, I certainly deserve a little slice of the pie.”

September 4th, 2010
12:48 PM ET

Andre Agassi's life is an 'Open' book

Jim Kavanagh

(CNN) - Andre Agassi felt his life was not his own until he was nearly 30, and now he wants to help young people take charge of their own lives, the retired tennis star told CNN's Anderson Cooper.

In "Open: An Autobiography," Agassi describes the loneliness and pressure of growing up under his father's relentless expectations of greatness.

"It was definitely a life I didn't choose," Agassi said during an interview for CNN’s "Anderson Cooper 360°."

The former No. 1 tennis player in the world wrote that he resented what the pursuit of stardom did to his childhood and self worth.

Filed under: 360º Follow
September 4th, 2010
12:40 PM ET