Why are you trying to regress back to seventh grade social studies? No, the real world isn't a House of Cards. It's a plain old regular chimp saying, *Pick the fleas off my back, and you can have my girl for the night*.
Yes, some people actually enter public service for noble reasons, and if they want to maintain that "nobility", they will get nowhere, and will lose the next election if they raise a fuss. If they want to get on some committee with real power and influence, and stay in office, and fix those potholes, then all bets are off. They're going make deals, or it all shuts down. They are animals, in not so cheap suits.
I won't call any of this "crooked" per se, because it is perfectly natural behavior. People will do whatever they can get away with. The veneer of civility only holds up while there's something to eat and something to fuck. Let's not read anything into it that's not there, and definitely let's not pretend there's any "nobility" in the system.