As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Little Richard

The blogger Will Bunch has written a long and detailed investigation into Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum for The American Prospect. It's extremely dense and far-reacking, and the upshot of it is that Little Richard is cutting so many ethical corners that his ethical card is perfectly round:

The Prospect decided to heed Santorum's advice by taking "an honest look at the family budget" -- his family budget. What we found is that Santorum's exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren't available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia. Although a Santorum aide defends those charges as legitimate political costs, good-government experts say the expenditures are at best unconventional, and at worst a possible violation of Senate rules, and the purchases appear to be unorthodox when compared with other senators' filings. Santorum's PAC -- a "leadership PAC," whose purpose is to dispense money to other Republican candidates -- used just 18.1 percent of its money to that end over a recent five-year period, a lower number than other leadership PACs of top senators from both parties.

Bunch goes on to note that all of these potential violations are going on at the Santorum home in Northern Virginia - where he lives, which might be news to his so-called "constituents" in Pennsylvania (he also has a house in Penn Hills, listed as his legal residence. His niece lives there, and in 2004 the Penn Hills School District paid $67,000 to school his kids via Internet in Virginia). The biggest issue is that the house in question was financed through a special mortgage (likely BMR) typically reserved for investors at the lender, Philadelphia Trust. Santorum is not one of them. Any kind of special treatment like this, says Bunch, "would violate the Senate ethics rules that Santorum is now charged with reforming."

There's no way to summarize the article that does it justice, so go on over and read it. Santorum has been tapped as the point person in the Senate on ethics reform in the wake of the Jack Abramoff scandal. It's not like they can get someone else who's all that squeaky clean, but in the light of this investigation that seems like a particularly bad choice. CREW has filed an ethics complaint against Little Richard.

Once he is kicked out of the Senate, he better not put it on his private sector resume, because with a record like this, ain't nobody hiring him.