Tom DeLay is a might put out at the Ethics Panel in the House of Reps and he’s got a point. There’s nothing like a spotlight to get the hounds sniffin’ and the company Tom’s been keepin’ reeks like a kennel after a month without rain. On the other hand, an exterminator and Jack Abramoff in the same airplane sounds like a match made in heaven.
DeLay sputters about not knowing where the money came from for a half dozen trips and, in the best congressional traditions it was buried back there two or three layers from whoever put their names on the tickets and hotel reservations (plus an occasional greens fee). A trusting Joe like Tom shouldn’t be made to sound like a guy on the make. What’s a fella supposed to do, call in an investigating committee every time it gets boring in Washington and an expense-paid fact-finder shows up?
Now just so I don’t get called for carping at Republicans, let me state for the record that this is an equal-opportunity problem and has been offended against by both parties in a photo-finish dead heat. That famous Chicagoan Dan Rostenkowski went away for a few years by not paying attention to similar details, plus a ludicrous affinity for cashing in his franking postage. There are just so many ways to steal in Washington that some of them sound almost ordinary. A wife and daughter on the payroll? Hey? I’m a family man.
It’s tough to get caught though.
The way to avoid getting caught doesn’t have a thing to do with investigating seven layers back in the funding. The way to avoid getting caught is a few words up front. Close the office door, sit back and make eye contact.
“Charlie, what’s this trip all about? Who’s going? What do they want?”
That ought to be enough. All else shakes out from there.