Last Friday, while discussing the general corruption and all-around ickiness of Congress, I mentioned how Harry Reid seems to have found himself in several pots of hot water. I also made a little-bitty mistake, as one rather persistent troll keeps bringing up.
I haven’t really had time to look into Reid since then, but fortunately, I haven’t had to do much research. Several other worthies have done so quite thoroughly.
I said Reid concealed a real estate deal that netted him over half a million dollars. That wasn’t quite right. He didn’t conceal the deal, but the partnership with a rather shady lobbyist that was so profitable — kind of like how Hillary Clinton received some serious “help” and “advice” in her first and only venture into the cattle futures market. (For those who might not recall that incident, New York’s junior senator had, when she was First Lady of Arkansas, invested $1,000 in cattle futures. A friend of hers bundled her money with his, absorbed all the losses, and parlayed that into $100,000.)
Reid has also admitted to using campaign funds to pay personal expenses, and paid back his campaign fund for them. It’s a good thing that Reid isn’t a lawyer; that sort of “commingling of funds” has led to the disbarment and, occasionally, imprisonment of attorneys. Whoops, my bad — he is a lawyer. Good thing the “client” involved is his own campaign committee — they aren’t likely to press the issue.
As I’ve said before, I tend to find Congress in general a crashing bore. There’s less than a one-percent chance I’ll ever get to vote for any particular member of Congress (I get to vote for three of the 535 seats, and regularly one of them will run for president), so I find it tough to get too worked up about Reid. But I do find myself vaguely curious how the Reid stories will play out, and which ethical standard he will be held to:
- The “really icky and unethical, but apparently not illegal” level of Mark Foley, who resigned.
- The “maybe knew just how icky and unethical, but apparently not illegal behavior and did not call for the head of the offender fast enough” level behind the calls for the resignation of Dennis Hastert.
- The “we won’t stop shopping for a grand jury to indict you, even after the first one refuses and the second one can’t do it without violating Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution” standard of Tom DeLay.
- The “almost but not quite illegal, but seriously icky enough to rate censure, then blanket forgiveness” of Gerry Studds.
- The “illegal as hell, but what the hell, we’ll give him a ‘get out of jail free’ card” standard of Mel Reynolds, who was freed from federal prison by Bill Clinton.
- The “committed perjury to avoid a law he himself had championed and signed, but it was just about sex, so that doesn’t count” standard of Bill Clinton, who was impeached, but not convicted.
- The “committed sabotage by stealing and destroying classified documents from the National Archives, but we’ll let him off with a fine and a bureaucratic slap on the wrist, and still treat him as a respectable statesman” standard of Sandy Berger.
- The “just because I kept $90,000 in my freezer, commandeered a National Guard unit to rescue swag from my home during Katrina, and nearly caused a Constitutional crisis, but I’ll still run for re-election while under investigation by the FBI” standard of William Jefferson
Clinton. (I really should see someone about that tic of mine.)
- The “I won’t run for re-election, but you get me out of office short of explosives even after I plead guilty to federal corruption charges — I’ll stink up the place to the very last second” of Bob Ney.
Should Reid resign? That depends on which standard he’ll be held to. But I strongly suspect he won’t, leading to the interesting notion that the Senate Minority Leader has less character and sense of ethics and morality than the pedophile-wannabe and all-around creepy Mark Foley.