Friday, June 08, 2007

Berger, assault and earmarks

Ethics-related stories are just tumbling out today, so rather than give each a separate post I'll round them up here.

SANDY BERGER
Sandy Berger accepted disbarment yesterday, giving up his license to practice law after stealing classified documents from the National Archives. Doing so means he doesn't have to answer further questions about his actions there, which undoubtedly will fuel further speculation about what he might have stolen.


STATEHOUSE FISTICUFFS
A Republican lawmaker in Alabama, Sen. Charles Bishop, punched another senator in the head yesterday. He said he was provoked when Sen. Lowell Barron called him a "son of a bitch." "I responded to his comment with my right hand," Bishop said. While expressing regret, he has so far declined to apologize.

Barron denies he said it, and claims it was Bishop who swore at him. His version has some credence, because everyone agrees that the confrontation came during a time when Republicans were angry at Democrats for blocking a Republican bill, and it was Bishop who approached Barron, not the other way around.

Makes you wonder if Bishop was channeling the U.S. Congress in 1856, when a Democrat, Preston Brooks, nearly beat Republican Charles Sumner to death with a cane. Though if so Bishop should probably be very cautious, because while Sumner eventually recovered and enjoyed a long career in Congress, Brooks died a year later of the croup.

In any event, perhaps criminal assault is not the best way to express opinions in the Senate chamber.

Update: We've got video!

SHINING A LIGHT ON EARMARKS
Finally, the Hill details the earmark requests of members of the House Armed Services Committee, and compares it with campaign contribution records. Turns out earmarks are a bipartisan smorgasbord. But the implication of wrongdoing is a bit off, in my opinion. There's no indication that the earmarks were tit-for-tat favors, and it's to be expected that members would seek help for large employers in their district, while large employers will naturally have more employees contributing to a given candidate's campaign.

The main thing this story does is serve as a test: will sunlight actually discourage earmarks? I guess we'll find out.

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