After the voters slaughtered House Republicans this past November, most people expected some period of introspection and house cleaning among the GOP. Having seen Duke Cunningham (R.-Ca.), Tom DeLay (R.-Tx), and Mark Foley (R.-Fl.) resign over various indictments and accusations, people thought the Grand Old Party had lost its way.
When campaigning to become Minority Leader, John Boehner appeared to recognize this problem. In his campaign manifesto he wrote, “In 1994 we made it clear we wouldn’t tolerate such activity, and showed our differences with the Democrats, by changing our rules to deny prime leadership and committee positions from any Member who had been indicted. The problem is that this isn’t good enough any more. Voters correctly expect more from us, and we should expect more from each other.”
That message gave comfort to House Republicans. It signaled that the John Boehner of 1994 was back and they could trust him to lead. The problem was John Boehner did not really mean what he wrote and was saying.
Last week, the House Republican Steering Committee met to replace John Doolittle (R.-Ca.) on the House Appropriations Committee. Having seen Duke Cunningham (R.-Ca.) leave Appropriations for a jail sentence, the House Republicans were faced with a second California Republican who might face jail. Compounding the problem, the ranking Republican on Appropriations, Jerry Lewis, another Californian, is under investigation by the FBI and is rumored to be headed rapidly toward criminal prosecution. Facing those challenges to Republican ethics, the Steering Committee considered appointing Joe Wilson (R.-Sc), Ken Calvert (R.-Ca.), and a few others.
Joe Wilson’s son is an Iraq War veteran. At a time when the Appropriations Committee is considering defunding the war, who better to put on Appropriations than a man whose son fought in Iraq? Instead, the Steering Committee chose Ken Calvert. Rep. Calvert is probably the worst possible choice.
In 1993, while a serving Congressman, Ken Calvert was arrested for receiving oral sex from a prostitute then on methadone to combat a heroin addiction. If that did not raise red flags for the Steering Committee, the fact that the FBI seized his records last year in the course of the FBI’s probe into Jerry Lewis should have.
Though there is no present word from the FBI that it is looking into Calvert, the Los Angeles Times uncovered a series of very shady land deals involving Calvert or business partners of Calvert. Calvert denies all wrong doing and, in a post at RedState.com, tried to explain away one of the earmarks, but ignored explaining the others away, content to claim a hit job by the liberal media.
According to a May 16, 2006, Los Angeles Times article, Rep. Calvert has a history of securing earmarks for property near land he owns or has a financial interest in. Taxpayers for Common Sense reports Rep. Calvert put 69 earmarks into spending bills in the 2005-2006 fiscal year, while taking the lead on 53 of the 69. Many of those were infrastructure improvements to land near property Calvert had a financial interest in.
Despite having better candidates for the Appropriations Committee with less questionable ethics (not to mention the lack of arrest records) the House Republican Steering Committee voted to put Calvert on Appropriations. Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Il.), a Steering Committee member, angered by the appointment, was quoted in the Hill saying, “I appreciate the high ethical standards that [Boehner] has set … but I believe the bar was lowered today when our conference chose to vote Ken Calvert onto the Appropriations Committee.” House sources report that other members of the Steering Committee are equally outraged, but do not have the votes to defy John Boehner, who openly supports Calvert.
RedState.com, the largest right of center community blog on the internet, has declared war on the House Republicans. I wrote the declaration. We are encouraging readers to call members of the Steering Committee on a daily basis to find out who voted for Calvert. Likewise, we are encouraging a financial boycott of the National Republican Congressional Committee, the campaign arm of the House Republicans. Every day, RedState is posting the name of one member of the steering committee and their contact information. We want to know if the Steering Committee members voted for Ken Calvert and if, at the time of their vote, they knew he had been arrested for receiving oral sex from a heroin addicted prostitute and had records seized by the FBI. On Monday, one of the largest socially conservative organizations in the country will join the fight. Until then, however, the organization wishes to remain nameless.
Unless Republican activists are willing to stand up and take action on this matter, the House Republican Steering Committee will not learn its ethics lessons — lessons that need to be learned in 2007, before voters return to the polls in 2008.