Kick Rep. Mollohan While He's Down

Republicans have an opportunity to thoroughly embarrass Democrats for their “culture of corruption” mantra. Will they use it to their advantage? I certainly hope so.

Here’s the story: The top Democrat on the House Ethics Committee—Rep. Alan Mollohan (W.Va.)—resigned from his role as ranking member this afternoon after becoming embroiled in a scandal that would make even Jack Abramoff blush.

Our friend David Freddoso of the Evans-Novak Political Report summarized the scandal for us a week ago:

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.

Mollohan is only the latest Democrats to go up in flames for an ethical lapse. As Freddoso wrote last week:

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.

Mollohan, meanwhile, just saw his re-election become a bit more complicated. As the Evans-Novak Political Report noted on April 12, state Del. Chris Wakim has the best chance of any Republican in recent memory to beat Mollohan. With Mollohan’s troubles and Wakim’s cash advantage, I’d have to agree that this seat could be switching hands.

Let’s just hope the Republican Party capitalizes on the embarrassing Democrat mishap.