Not a great day for members of Congress, as the New York Times has two stories on Congressmen behaving badly. The first is a minor personal indiscretion, but follows an interesting pattern.
A recently elected Congressman from Louisiana, Vance McAllister, has already announced that he will not seek re-election, yet will finish out his current term of 6 years. Representative McAllister is a mere 5 months into his stint in Washington DC. So why the announcement? McAllister was recently caught on video kissing a woman who was not his wife. That is probably the reason for announcing he will not seek re-election. But remaining in office until the end of his term? The benefits of being a Congressman or Congresswoman who serve at least 5 years (less than one full term) are remarkable. Full pension for life, pre-paid life insurance policies, funding for a personal staff of up to 18 employees at a cost to the taxpayer of up to $1.4 mio per annum while in office, etc.
The pattern of interest is that Representative McAllister ran for office on a campaign pledging to defend the Christian way of life. His campaign was built around personal appearances with his wife and family by his side. Yet less than 5 months in Washington and he seems to have found a mistress. While I have no statistical information, there does seem to be a pattern with public figures who speak loudest about their religious views and use those statements to further their self-interests being the ones who seem to get caught in sexual indiscretions. Full NYT story here.
Next up, and more concerning to the general public is Representative Grimm from New York’s Staten Island district. A former Marine and FBI agent, Grimm opened a health food restaurant after retiring from the FBI in 2006. (Strange career path). The FBI and US Justice Department now alleges that Grimm under-reported revenues and wages paid from his restaurant, essentially committing tax fraud. What is remarkable is the the Justice Department has been looking into campaign finance violations and potential Mob connections for two years, yet in the end they have him (currently) on tax evasion. Grimm made bail and vows to remain the course in Congress and fight the charges. Full NYT story here.
Those of us in America are fortunate that we live in a society that we can pick, choose, and change our representatives in government. But remember, You Get What You Elect.