Public Citizen, the public interest watchdog group founded by Ralph Nader, has zinged Jim Moran for accepting a $5,000.00 vacation to Jamaica from pal, developer, campaign contributor, and sometime lobbyist Al Dwoskin, describing the gift as “excessive”.
Moran’s office has fired back, saying it was precleared with the ethics committee. I guess after his various ethical scrapes in the past, Congressman Moran knows to get at least the appearance of legitimacy when he accepts gifts.
While the gift was approved by the ethics committee based on claims of a long standing friendship, a spokesman for the watchdog group said the gift should have been turned down as it would “reflect poorly on the credibility of the House.”
The spokesman is right. It does reflect poorly, and even more so when one considers Moran’s past behavioral and ethical issues, which include:
*In 1999, Moran accepted a $25,000 loan from a lobbyist.
*He became a leading backer of bankruptcy-reform legislation in 1998 after getting a loan on favorable terms from a company that stood to benefit from the bill. Moran later said the timing was purely “coincidental
However, I should not be surprised by this. Congress has long refused to hold themselves to the ethical standards they seem to require of other folks. Were Moran a GOP congressman, the Democratic ethics committee would be falling all over themselves to denounce him.
I find it somewhere from funny to really sad that in the 2006 election the Democrats campaigned on ending what they termed “corruption” in the Congress…and then we get stuff like this.
Frankly, I don’t care that Moran if Dwoskin are BFF or met a month ago in an IHOP. It looks bad for Congressman to accept $5,000.00 gifts from people or entities that potentially have matters of interest in front of congress…and with the widespread federal presence in this area, anyone who is a true “developer”-like Dwoskin-will have ongoing regulatory issues and concerns that might require Congressional input.
I am reminded of a story Sam Snead told in his autobiography Education of a Golfer. Snead was being audited by the IRS, and the auditor was a straight arrow fellow-who, as it turned out, loved to play golf. Snead said they ought to play a round. The agent agreed, but he would pay his greens fee for the round. While playing, Snead realized the guy had a horrendous slice, a flaw that with about ten minutes of instruction and a lot of practice could be eliminated.
Snead pointed this out to the agent, who noted that he couldn’t afford Snead’s lesson fees. Snead said it wasn’t a lesson, it was just one golfer pointing something out to another golfer. The auditor said no. They struggled through eighteen holes, with Snead ready to help, and the auditor repeatedly turning him down-because he thought taking the advice without payment was unethical.
Someone is probably thinking the guy should have taken the advice, it’s just something between two guys on the course. Someone else is probably remined of the words of the late Jess Unruh, who-in referring to the relationship between lobbyists and elected officials in the California legislature-said “If you can’t take drink their whiskey, take their money, f*** their women and vote against them in the morning, you don’t belong in this place.” But most will see that this auditor took his job seriously, took the responsibilities seriously, and was seriously concerned about the propriety of taking even an inconsequential bit of golfing advice.
It is not about the legalities…Mr. Moran and the House Ethics committee has that covered.
It is about the appearance of propriety and the perception of integrity…and Mr. Moran continues to show he not only does not
get it, he most certainly does not have it covered.