The Wall Street Journal leads today with a piece on Rep. Alan Mollohan (W.Va.), the Democratic ranking member on the House Ethics Committee. Mollohan, also a member of the Appropriations Committee, has earmarked millions in funds for non-profits run by his business partner and some campaign contributors.
The Journal reports that Mollohan is now under investigation, and if this release by the National Legal and Policy Center has any validity, he may have been understating his assets in his congressional disclosure forms over a nine year period. NLPC claims to have conducted a nine-month investigation into Mollohan’s finances, triggered by the unusual rise in his net worth since 2000.
"When Mollohan failed to disclose an asset we would document his ownership interest with a deed, Uniform Commercial Code filing or other public record," reads a statement by NLPC Chairman Ken Boehm. "In all, we documented over 250 misrepresentations and omissions. … The real issue here is not whether Mollohan systematically was hiding financial and real estate assets and grossly misrepresenting their value. He was. The real issue is why he was hiding those assets."
Whether Mollohan faces any serious legal trouble or not, this revelation explains a few things. For one, why have President Bush and Speaker Dennis Hastert been spending time recently in a hopeless district like Mollohan’s? Bush did carry the district with 58% in 2004, but Mollohan was also re-elected with 68%. Mollohan actually trailed his Republican opponent, Chris Wakim, in cash on hand at the end of 2005.
Another note: Currently, the three congressmen who appear most likely to be indicted are Cynthia McKinney (D-Ga.), William Jefferson (D-La.), and Bob Ney (R-Ohio). Add Mollohan to that list, and it could become difficult for Democrats to campaign on the "Republican Culture of Corruption" that has laced their rhetoric for months now.