Representative Earl Pomeroy, the nine-term North Dakota incumbent who has trailed his Republican challenger by a significant margin in each of the last five months, is one of the congressman caught up in a probe by the Office of Congressional Ethics into fundraising done around the time of a banking bill vote in the House.
Initially Pomeroy stonewalled inquiries made about the investigation by the media, but after no small amount of criticism from Republicans in his state he decided that perhaps silence wasn’t the best tact.
Now he’s speaking out, but it seems he’s only adding fuel to the fire. He has told the Bismarck Tribune that he now harbors “some doubts about the integrity of the investigations being conducted.”
Which is ironic given that, in 2008, Pomeroy voted in favor of creating the Office of Congressional Ethics. I guess Pomeroy is ok with ethics investigations as long as he’s not the target.
Now, I can certainly understand Pomeroy’s frustration at being the target of an ethics investigation during an election year, and I even share some of Pomeroy’s questions about the integrity of ethics investigators. Though not from Pomeroy’s perspective.
Another article in the Bismarck Tribune today puts Pomeroy’s situation into context with previous ethics reviews involving North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan and $67,000 in contributions directed to his political coffers by Jack Abramoff and those now-infamous VIP loans Senator Kent Conrad got Countrywide. I look at those scandals, which resulted in little more than a slap on the wrist for Conrad from the Senate Ethics Committee and nothing but a little bit of bad press for Dorgan, and I wonder what integrity congressional ethics officials have at all.
Consider this: Before Charlie Rangel lost his chairmanship of the House Ways and Means committee, there had not been a single member of congress punished for ethics violations by congressional ethics officials in three years.
Does anyone honestly believe that happened because, during those years, our members of Congress behaved themselves?
Hardly. The problem with ethics in Congress isn’t that politicians like Pomeroy are being victimized. It’s that politicians like Pomeroy get away with far too much.
Bill Clinton once told an audience in Philadelphia, "You know one of the things that's wrong with this country? Everybody gets a chance to have their fair say." It was intended as a humorous response to a crowd of hecklers who was giving him fits as he tried to deliver a speech, but it's not hard to imagine that Democrats have taken that sentiment to heart of late.
North Dakota’s Senator Kent Conrad is the top Democrat in Congress on fiscal issues. He’s a self-styled “deficit hawk” who likes to perpetrate an illusion of being this independent voice for fiscal sanity in a national capital that has lost its mind on deficits and debt.