House of Hypocrites

While congress is set to sit in judgment of President Clinton, many of its members have their own indiscretions to deal with. Lucky for them Ken Starr isn't investigating them and the notoriously lax ethics committee is.

vox populi, vox dei: "Back when he had a seat in the General Assembly and back during his early terms in Congress, Dan Burton had a reputation for sex with convenient women that was at least as awful and awesome as the Clinton reputation. When Hoosier politicians and pundits gathered, they would tell each other stories about Burton scoring with interns and pages, scoring with staffers in his offices and staffers in his campaign, scoring with Carmel housewives and some fine and famous Christian women elsewhere in his district." —Veteran Indianapolis journalist Harrison Ullmann, reminiscing on tales of Burton's younger days in NUVO, Indianapolis's alternative newsweekly.


REP. HELEN CHENOWETH
(R-Idaho)

The red flag: Apparently fearing disclosure elsewhere, Chenoweth admitted to having had an ongoing affair with a married man immediately after she cut a reelection commercial chastising Clinton and saying she was more reflective of "our founding fathers' [belief] that political leaders' personal conduct must be held to the highest standards." Chenoweth, a darling of the right-wing family-values set, had publicly rebuked her 1994 opponent for having an affair.

Called into account?: Though she fessed up to the affair, the Salon story indicates the whole truth is still out there about the militia momma's hypocritically libidinous activities.

Final outcome: We'll see in November.

vox populi, vox dei: "Helen is living proof that you can fuck your brains out." —an Idaho GOP operative on the state of Chenoweth's savvy.


REP. BARNEY FRANK
(D-Massachusetts)

The red flag: Fixed parking tickets of male prostitute Steve Gobie. Also made misleading statements to Gobie's parole officers.

Called into account?: Yes. The House went through a series of votes on appropriate punishment.

Final outcome: Though reprimanded by the full House on July 26, 1990, Frank was re-elected with a two-thirds majority mere months later. He continues to be a major player in the House.

vox populi, vox dei: "I should have known better."—Frank on his inappropriate behavior.


SENATOR CAROL MOSELEY-BRAUN
(D-Illinois)

The red flag: In 1995, the IRS twice asked the Justice Department to initiate a grand jury probe after it found evidence indicating possible conversion of campaign funds for personal use (reportedly $70,000 on designer clothes, $18,000 on jewelry) and violation of tax laws.

Called into account?: No. The Justice Department's tax division didn't impanel any grand juries and the Ethics Committee hasn't taken up the matter either.

Final outcome: Thus far, no repercussions. See how she does in November.

vox populi, vox dei: "I hope that folks will conclude that maybe from the very beginning that campaign funds were properly handled and that we were telling the truth." —Moseley-Braun at a July press conference, citing the Justice Department refusals as exoneration.


SENATOR DON NICKLES
(R-Oklahoma)

The red flag: Shot a promotional video in his Senate office for Triad, a shadowy right-wing Republican fundraising group that, using shell organizations, dumped millions of dollars into attack advertising in the final days of the 1996 campaign.

Called into account?: Not really. Nickles's Triad ties came up during the investigative hearings into campaign finance scandals conducted by Senator Fred Thompson.

Final outcome: Shortly after Nickles's connection with Triad was broached, the Thompson committee ended its investigations, sparing Nickles from further scrutiny.

vox populi, vox dei: "My personal hope is the investigation won't be extended unless there are significant things that have been uncovered." —Nickles arguing against an extension on the life of the Thompson committee, which was poised to probe Nickles's Triad connections.


REP. BUD SHUSTER
(R-Pennsylvania)

The red flags: A complex, tangled web of political, financial, legislative, and personal ties between Shuster and former staffer-turned-lobbyist Ann Eppard. Once Shuster's chief of staff, Eppard now vigorously (and lucratively) lobbies the congressman—especially in his capacity as chairman of the pork-filled transportation committee—while also serving as his chief fundraiser, a dual role that has raised eyebrows.

Called into account?: Kinda sorta. Though CAP was successful in getting a complaint filed (for Shuster's free lodging in Eppard's home), the House Ethics Committee has refused to let the organization ammend its complaint to include Shuster's apparent pattern of blending official business and fundraising. The committee has also refused a request by CAP to appoint an outside counsel to thoroughly investigate Shuster. Additionally, Eppard was indicted by a federal grand jury in April for allegedly accepting $230,000 in illegal payments to influence a huge highway project in Boston known as the Big Dig.

Final outcome: Still up in the air.

vox populi, vox dei: "I prefer to believe that they are simply misinformed."—Shuster, responding to charges from other Republicans that he derives his power by trading highway projects for votes.

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