Tuesday, March 30, 2010

We're Not Any More Crooked Than Normal

I'm sure this is totally unrelated to Bart Stupak's vote on the health care reform legislation...
The 11 House Democrats led by Rep. Bart Stupak who dropped their opposition to health care reform mere hours before the final vote have requested $3.4 billion in earmarks -- and one watchdog group wants to know whether the money represents business as usual, or a political payoff.

The Sunlight Foundation says it plans to track the earmark requests, which were put in one day after health care reform cleared Congress, to see whether they're approved and whether it appears lawmakers are being rewarded for their vote.

...Stupak's office said there's absolutely no link between the earmarks and the health care bill's passage.

"The congressman's vote for health care has no connection to annual appropriations requests," spokeswoman Michelle Benoche said. "Appropriations requests were submitted on Monday, March 22, because that is the deadline of the Appropriations Committee."
See, I'm not sure the "business as usual" defense really helps here. I think what Congress and the Democratic majority in particular don't understand is that they're now being subjected to the same glaring scrutiny they've tried to impose on others for years, and the public finds their practices appalling. And that's before you get to things that a reasonable person could and likely would interpret as a quid pro quo; Stupak's office would likely be in the clear in a court of law, but the court of public opinion doesn't require proof beyond a reasonable doubt (or even a preponderance of evidence) to reach a different conclusion. Hell, Congress probably would interpret such actions by individuals in industry as corrupt -- are we supposed to think they're not corrupt when committed by members of Congress?

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