Comedy in ethics: Even if Rep. Paul "Shecky" Gillmor's deal isn't exactly illegal, does it really live up to his standard of "pretty much aboveboard"?
Sometimes, frankly, digging through the Annals of Republicrookery is just plain depressing. All those arrogant, out-of-control, greed-besotted scumbags stealing every damn thing they can get their grubby paws on, thinking--usually correctly--that they can get away with just about anything.
Today, however, our Washington Post "In the Loop" pal Al Kamen shares a tale that's going to have you howling with laughter. It may not, strictly speaking, involve Republicrookery, although I'd like to hear the thinking of some competent state and federal legal authorities on the subject. But it sure tells us just how low our public sevants, and in particular the Republican ones, have set their ethical bar.
My favorite line: the congressman telling the Toledo Blade that his deal is transparent because the paper succeeded in tracing it back to him. Never mind that it took the services of a diligent investigative reporter, unearthing details that were clearly not meant to be unearthed. The very fact that the congressman got caught proves, apparently, that it's all okay!
This isn't quite the kid who kills his parents asking for mercy on account of he's an orphan, but it's up there. From now on, Paul Gillmor, you'll always be "Shecky" to us.
Caution: If you have had recent surgery or any other condition that makes heavy laughter medically contra-indicated, do not, repeat do not, read this piece.
Congressman Says Home Purchase
Was 'Pretty Much Aboveboard'
Rep. Paul Gillmor (R-Ohio) has a nifty new 3,751-square-foot, four-bedroom house in suburban Columbus, Ohio, next to a golf course designed by the great Arnold Palmer.
The $1 million house has some unusual characteristics. It's not in his congressional district, but sits about 90 minutes away from the condo that he uses as his official residence.
Even more curious is that Gillmor's name appears nowhere on the property records. The Toledo Blade, after some fine digging by reporter Joshua Boak, found that the owner is Zenith Holding & Trading Corp.
That, in turn, is a subsidiary of a Columbus law and lobbying firm -- Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease -- whose PAC has contributed $6,500 to Gillmor's campaigns since 1997.
The firm sent the paper a letter saying that Zenith has the property in trust "at the request of, and for the benefit of" Gillmor, who paid the mortgage and taxes.
Gillmor's office initially declined to confirm the address, saying Capitol Police suggested for security that lawmakers not give out such information, the paper reported.
But Gillmor acknowledged that he retained Zenith to buy the property on his behalf.
"There's nothing unethical or unusual," he told the paper. "It's all pretty much aboveboard." He said the deal was transparent because the Blade was able to trace it back to him, the paper said.
In a follow-up letter to the newspaper, Gillmor said he considers the properties outside his district to be "only real estate investments." Why this purchase? "I just felt like it," he told the Blade. "I don't have to explain why I moved to a different house."
ONE FINAL THOUGHT: WILL THERE BE A SPECIAL ELECTION
IN OH-05, OR ARE CANDIDATES MERELY LINING UP FOR 2008?
In Representative Gillmor's above-cited follow-up letter to the Toledo Blade, it's possible to have one's attention diverted by his concise, witty explanation for purchases he describes as "only real estate investments": "I just felt like it." Indeed. However, there is a danger that too little consideration may then be given to the following sentence: "I don't have to explain why I moved to a different house."
Now, I'm not a lawyer, but when the congressman says, "I moved to a different house," surely that means that he has, you know, moved to a different house. No, the congressman certainly doesn't owe anyone an explanation for his desire to move. Except maybe his constituents, who unlike the congressman all live inside Ohio's 5th Congressional District. That's what makes them his constituents--or, rather, used to make them his constituents, since he has told the Blade clearly that he has moved out of OH-05.
Can we assume that final preparations are under way to announce the congressman's resignation? I suppose perhaps there's some paperwork to take care of?
Now I stress that I'm not a lawyer, and perhaps it really is legal for the congressman to continue representing a district he no longer resides in--though again it would be nice to hear competent legal opinion on the question. Surely, though, the congressman is preparing an announcement (admittedly a mere formality) stating the obvious: that he will not be running for reelection.
I mean, it can't possibly be legal for him to run for a House seat he himself has acknowledged he doesn't live in, can it?