You may recall that former House Majority Leader, Tom DeLay, was forced to step down as part of a money laundering scandal. He is also noted for his close relationships with lobbyists, particularly Jack Abramoff, who is also facing trial over his various corrupt dealings. So, when the Republicans were looking to replace to DeLay with someone more respectable, they chose John Boehner, who made some nice speeches about changing direction and so forth. Well, check this (from the Washington Post):
The Center for Public Integrity said that Boehner accepted 42 privately sponsored trips from January 2000 to December 2005. That put him on the road to other countries and “golfing hotspots,” often with his wife, Debbie, for about half a year, “only nine days of which he listed as being ‘at personal expense,’ ” the center said.
I see. It appears that this is a clear case of “meet the new leader, same as the old leader.” Don’t the Republicans get it? Americans don’t want corruption. They don’t like sleazy, “fact-finding” missions (“Nice drive!” “Ain’t that a fact.”) This will be of great help to the Democrats in November, as it makes clear the culture of corruption of the GOP.
In fairness, one might ask what Boehner was doing on these trips. Well:
Among the places Boehner traveled on privately financed trips were Edinburgh, Scotland; Venice; Brussels; and Barcelona, the center said. Two of his domestic destinations, which the center pointed out are famous for their golf courses, were Boca Raton, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz.
The report said Boehner received more than $160,000 in food, lodging, transportation and other expenditures on his privately paid journeys. His benefactors included the Chicago Board of Trade, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CSX Corp. and the Sallie Mae Foundation.
Boehner, of course, being a Representative of Ohio, surely has pressing matters to investigate in these places, on behalf of his constituents–not! No wonder that Boehner, as reported in the article, resisted Dennis Hastert’s motion to ban lobbyist paid travel for representatives. What would he do without it? Most disturbing of all, his people don’t seem to grasp why this is all wrong:
Rather, Madden [a Boehner spokesman] pointed to the center’s report as proof that disclosure works well. Madden said the study was possible because of the thorough disclosures Boehner made through the years and which he now advocates expanding. The center was able to detail Boehner’s activities because his trips, “in each and every instance, were promptly and publicly disclosed according to law,” Madden said.
Right. No worries about conflicts of interest or corruption. As long as its clearly reported, it’s fine. The only good thing about that approach is it will make it even clearer to voters where the GOP stands on this ethical issue.