Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Clair McCaskill - Dangerously Close to Breaking Her Own Rules

My inclination is to defend Claire. I desperately wanted her to replace Talent and was very pleased when it happened. I've been generally optimistic about her future in the Senate and gratified to hear her talk about rooting out the monetary improprieties in Washington.

Then she hired her new chief of staff, Sean Kennedy. That would be all fine and dandy but for the latest entry on his resume: lobbyist for SBC Communications. Even that would be fine with me. As power shifts back and forth in Washington what are these people supposed to do when their party is out of power? Lobbying jobs make sense. Personally I couldn't do it. I know that no job in Washington is particularly pretty but could there be a more "wallowing with the swine" sort of job than being a lobbyist?

So why is this noteworthy? Because of Claire's promise to make Washington work for us! In this 15 point plan that she presented during her campaign she laid out some pretty tough restrictions to, if not severe, weaken the close ties between congress and the lobbyist. And hiring a recent lobbyist as her chief of staff doesn't directly violate her rules but it does seem to injure their spirit, particularly the "Break the Link Between Congressional Service and Lobbying Influence" section where she says we should:

Prohibit Lobbyists From Taking Campaign Positions With Members. Lobbyists like Jack Abramoff raise campaign funds to position themselves as power brokers with elected officials. Lobbyists commonly become fundraisers and use their connections to drag money into their candidate's coffers. The Center for Public Integrity cited that 79 Members of congress named lobbyists to serve as treasurers of their campaign committees.
It seems hard to believe that her campaign manager is going to remain totally aloof of Claire's reelection campaign.

Obviously this was an easy position for Claire to take during the 2005 campaign. With Delay and his cronies recently revealed to be the money and power grubbing pigs that they are this was a quick and easy way to score some political points. Frankly, it didn't have any sway over my support of her; every politician promises to clean up Washington and it's basically just white noise during the campaign. What, they expect their opponent to come out for corruption?

No, what bothers me is that Claire has so quickly and cavalierly violated the spirit if not the literal read of her campaign promises. I suppose I should be no more surprised by a politician breaking a promise than anything else but she's supposed to be one of the good guys. I'm still hoping that this is just a blip and not an indication of things to come.

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