Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Dear US House freshmen: Doing bad works for good reasons is still doing bad works.

I don't expect to be in complete agreement on every issue with the elected officials who represent me, even those who I support, but I do expect my elected representatives to perform their duties in a completely ethical manner.

*Especially* those I support.

There were a number of Democrats in this year's freshman class in the US House of Representatives, including Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona's 9th Congressional District.

Those freshman members who were deemed to be most vulnerable in 2014, including Sinema, were given seats on the House Financial Services Committee to give them access to the deep-pocketed lobbyists for the financial services industry.

As such, most of them are doing very well with their campaign fundraising efforts.

Well, DC is a "quid pro quo" kind of place, and it's time for the freshmen to give a little "quo" for all of the "quid" that they've been getting.

From the New York Times, written by Eric Lipton and Ben Protess -
Bank lobbyists are not leaving it to lawmakers to draft legislation that softens financial regulations. Instead, the lobbyists are helping to write it themselves.

One bill that sailed through the House Financial Services Committee this month — over the objections of the Treasury Department — was essentially Citigroup’s, according to e-mails reviewed by The New York Times. The bill would exempt broad swathes of trades from new regulation.


...But most of the Democrats on the committee, along with 31 Republicans, came to the industry’s defense, including the seven freshmen Democrats — most of whom have started to receive donations this year from political action committees of Goldman Sachs, Wells Fargo and other financial institutions, records show.

Six days after the vote, several freshmen Democrats were in New York to meet with bank executives, a tour organized by Representative Joe Crowley, who helps lead the House Democrats’ fund-raising committee. The trip was planned before the votes, and was not a fund-raiser, but it gave the lawmakers a chance to meet with Wall Street’s elite.

In addition to a tour of Goldman’s Lower Manhattan headquarters, and a meeting with Lloyd C. Blankfein, the bank’s chief executive, the lawmakers went to JPMorgan’s Park Avenue office. There, they chatted with Jamie Dimon, the bank’s chief, about Dodd-Frank and immigration reform.
I understand the desire of elected officials to win re-election and am fully cognizant of the fact that any Republican running against her is likely to be far worse.

Having said that however, each of the seven Democratic freshmen on the committee (and, for that matter, all of the Democratic members of the committee) got where they are in large part because of a massive amount of grassroots support.

Those grassroots supporters didn't stuff thousands of envelopes, make thousands of phone calls and canvass thousands of miles of neighborhoods only to see their candidates turn into ethical reincarnations of JD Hayworth.

Yes, re-electing Congresswoman Sinema and the rest of the freshman Democrats would be a "good" thing, but actively aiding and abetting the banksters in return for generous campaign contributions is most definitely "bad" and just may help the Republicans in the long run.

Most everybody expects Republican electeds to be at least a little dirty, even their supporters - they hold public service and public servants themselves as utterly contemptible, and use that attitude to rationalize contemptible behavior of their own* - but Democrats tend to be seen as the "good guys" (no, not all perfect, and certainly not all "guys").  As such, they are held to a slightly higher standard.  That's why John Ensign (R) got to resign with his pension intact and Rod Blagojevich (D) got to go to prison.

In short, an elected Democrat who is perceived to be as ethical as an elected Republican is well on the way to becoming an unelected Democrat.

For the record, while I absolutely deplore corruption on the part of public officials regardless of partisan affiliation, I think that the most annoying part of this behavior is that it gives credibility to the "they're all dirty" crowd, those whose political thoughts and knowledge can comfortably fit on a bumper sticker.

* - I am not the first to make this observation.  The late, great, Molly Ivins once made almost the same observation about the presidential administration of George H.W. Bush, and things have only become worse since.

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