Monday, December 05, 2005

Must be the water

What is it about San Diego? First there was the "Duke" Cunningham's implosion - going from fighter ace in Vietnam to Top Gun instructor (Remember in in the movie Tom Cruise's character's dad was named "Duke" Mitchell?) to eight-term congressman to felon sent to prison for 10 years. Breathtaking. Duke's fall started with a story in a loca San Diego newspaper about him selling his home for $700,000 higher than market value to a defense contractor who turned around and sold shortly thereafter losing the $700,000 he "over-paid" for it. Now it's a Democrats turn?

Rep. Bob Filner (D-CA) "has paid at least $505,000 in campaign funds to his wife for political consulting services since 1995," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. "For the past five years she has run her unregistered business out of their condominium in Washington, D.C.

However, the District of Columbia government has no record of Campaign Resources existing as a business, and directory assistance has no phone listing for that name.

With no public records linking Jane Filner to her company, Bob Filner's constituents have no way of knowing that some of his campaign contributions are finding their way into his household's income.

Asked to prove the existence of his wife's business, Filner's campaign provided faxed copies of a blank check from an account at SunTrust bank and a sheet of Campaign Resources letterhead with an outdated address and phone number.

It is illegal to spend campaign funds for personal use, but it is not illegal to use them to pay family members who provide 'bona fide services' at fair-market value. Still, election watchdogs question the way the Filners set up their arrangement."

I'm not saying Filner has done anything wrong. It's just another example of things running in D.C. a lot more like the Sopranos than Schoolhouse Rock's "I'm Just a Bill." Maybe what Filner's arraignment with his wife is technically legal under the relevent statutes and House rules. That shouldn't be the standard, "Well, it's legal." It reminds me of Michael Kinsley's saying that what bothers him isn't what's illegal but what's legal in this type of situation. Kinsley has just written another brilliant piece entitled, "Business as usual: Corrupt" and it's a must read.

Hard to add to Kinsley other than to say after reading stories like Filner's it makes me either want to become a "consultant" and get adopted by him or turn on ESPN and never pick up the news section again.


Anonymous BBBetz said...

The washington establishment is the problem. The people in office serve terms and the establishment serves themselves. You would be perfect there. Is there fund that we can donate to.

12:12 PM  

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