In years past, when the House has recessed for its winter break, Rep. John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has decamped for warmer climates and a sailing trip to the Caribbean with some of the city’s top lobbyists, including Henry Gandy of the well-connected Duberstein Group and Timothy McKone of SBC Communications.
No, that isn’t a lead-in to a story about “Brokeback Island.” But the story is full of paragraphs that a new leader doesn’t need lying around waiting for follow-up:
“Do I have K Street friends? Yes, I do,” Boehner said. “Do I have relationships with them? Yes. And every one of them is an ethical relationship.”
Boehner’s most famous act of the sort also involved the tobacco industry: In 1995, he distributed checks from tobacco political action committees to members on the House floor.
Spokesman Don Seymour added that Boehner “doesn’t think Native American tribal groups should be dishonored simply for exercising their own political freedom.”
Gandy and another sometime sailing partner, Bruce Gates of Washington Council Ernst and Young, also sponsor what have become known as Boehner warehouse parties, lavish, expensive fundraising affairs that started at the 1996 Republican National Convention and can last until dawn.
The story nicks up Roy Blunt as well, and reinforces the urgent need to select leadership untainted by excess, even if that excess is of the legal sort.
It is wartime. That doesn’t mean Members can’t have dined out in the past four years.
But it does mean that a country willing to watch the terrible sorrow of families who have lost husbands and wivs, sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, and to support and cheer the recovery of the wounded is not prepared to indulge a political class its peacetime revels.
The GOP Conference needs to get serious about electing serious people untainted by lobbying excess. Some of the questions that have to be asked are easy enough to answer if the answers are the right ones (and as yet unanswered anywhere I have seen.)
BTW: Here’s a couple of interesting paragraphs from the Washington Times:
A Justice Department investigation into influence-peddling on Capitol Hill is focusing on a “first tier” of lawmakers and staffers, both Republicans and Democrats, say sources close to the probe that has netted guilty pleas from lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Law-enforcement authorities and others said the investigation’s opening phase is scrutinizing Sens. Conrad Burns, Montana Republican; Byron L. Dorgan, North Dakota Democrat; and Minority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, along with Reps. J.D. Hayworth, Arizona Republican, and Bob Ney, Ohio Republican.
The new leadership, from top to bottom, cannot afford to discover in a month or three that one ofits number has to step down because of a connection to the Abramoff scandal, even if it is a bipartisan affair.
The new leadership can’t afford MSM stories on lavish trips and subsidized travel.
The new leadership cannot have staff that has to make explanations as opposed to policy recommendations. “Caesar’s wife, like the rest of Caesar’s family, must be above suspicion.”
It isn’t hard to figure out, though some Members seem to believe that the era of new media and transparency doesn’t affect their caucus.
Keep checking The Corner for the latest on the race, though it seems to me that a group of Members should be approaching Mike Pence with a request that he reconsider. Candidates as yet unheard from may also emerge after the first round of take-downs. If I was either Boehner or Blunt, I’d try for a big Sunday show to demonstrate an ability to handle the toughest questions. If they can’t survive a round with Russert now, how can they expect to later?