I’m so old I can remember back to when Republicans were tarred with the “culture of corruption” label. I think it was back in 2006. Multiple members either resigned or were defeated after a spate of ethics violations involving sex and money. Four years later, many Republicans who were in office and lost their seats in the wave elections of 2006 and 2008 have returned in a favorable political environment to reclaim their positions. It was inevitable that at least one of them would be enmeshed in the same corruption and ethics scandals of the recent GOP past.
Charlie Bass, a former Congressman who lost his seat to Paul Hodes in 2006, is back to challenge for the open seat against progressive Ann McLane Kuster. Polls have shown the race close, but Bass is in position to return to Congress. There’s only one problem: he would almost immediately face the Ethics Committee:
On Thursday morning, the Nashua Telegraph published a fairly damning story about former Congressman Charlie Bass (R-N.H.) who is running for his old seat, currently held by Senatorial candidate Paul Hodes (D-N.H.). According to the paper, Bass helped set up a business meeting benefiting a New Hampshire wood pellet company at the same time that he held $500,000 worth of privately held stock in that company. Days after Bass left office in January 2007, he took a position on that company’s board.
Bass claims to have only purchased the stock after losing to Hodes in 2006, but I don’t know how this makes it any better: he still used the power of his office that remained to get a favorable deal for a company that he not only held stock in, but that hired him for the board of directors shortly thereafter.
This is a somewhat analogous situation to that of Maxine Waters, who allegedly sought a meeting to help a bank where her husband owned a significant amount of stock. The difference here lies in the results – Waters sought to help a variety of minority-owned banks, not an individual company, and she disclosed her husband’s ties to OneUnited Bank in open testimony in the House. According to the Nashua Telegraph article, Bass’ case looks far more clear-cut.
There’s at least as much evidence in the Bass case to put him in the same kind of an ethics trial as Waters will probably have to face. So we have a candidate for Congress who could, upon being sworn in, immediately face an investigation in the House Ethics Committee.
Welcome to your US Congress.
Kuster, incidentally, has received substantial support from progressive groups like the PCCC, and has taken decidedly bold stands throughout the campaign.