May 05, 2003
HMM. IF IT'S NEWS WHEN A MORALIZER TURNS OUT TO BE A HYPOCRITE, then why isn't this story getting more attention?
New York Democratic Sen. Charles Schumer, an outspoken advocate of campaign-finance reform, has been hit with one of the biggest fines ever imposed on a member of Congress by the Federal Election Commission — for violating campaign-finance laws.
The FEC ruling, handed down in March, ordered Schumer's 1998 senatorial campaign to pay a civil penalty of $130,000. The campaign was also ordered to return $120,455 in illegal contributions, bringing the total of fines and restitution to slightly more than a quarter-million dollars. The campaign paid the sum in April.
According to FEC records, only three cases involving federal candidates have resulted in higher fines than the one levied on Schumer's campaign. No senatorial candidate has ever been so severely penalized.
I'm just, you know, asking.
UPDATE: Discount Blogger (Permalinks not working, scroll down, blah blah) says that I'm guilty of flawed logic here in comparing Schumer to Bennett, because Schumer, personally, didn't do anything illegal.
But neither did Bennett. Right? That's part of the comparison, I thought. Of course, if I wanted to plumb the depths of Schumer's hypocrisy further I might note his support of the Sarbanes-Oxley bill, which imposes liability on corporate bigshots for wrongdoing by their underlings, and wonder why he didn't support similar language regarding campaign-finance laws. "Accept an illegal contribution: go to jail -- no ifs, buts, or maybes."
Roscoe Shrewsbury captures things well via email:
There is certainly a keen sense of the ludicrous when one calls to mind a triptych image of Mr. Bennett, during the day penning sober tomes about character and virtue, but at night - rollin' dem bones, a-callin' out, "Yowzah! Baby need a new pair o' shoes!" He says that gambling is simply what he does when he needs to relax, and conservative flacks leap to his defense, professing that they fail to see anything wrong or even unusual in his conduct. So he dropped $1.4 million on one especially adventurous foray into the dens of iniquity - some people feed pigeons, or even roller-skate.
But we find these Bennett exposés annoying and tiresome, because we all know that politicians who please the ruling Information Class are never held to this kind of accounting. The big media have yet to notice U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott taking money from Saddam's henchman, and it's hard to find even a passing reference to the firestorm in Britain over the cosmic hypocrisy of the rapacious George Galloway. Do we read article leads like, "Senator Kennedy gave his full support to the sexual-harassment legislation, even though observers have noted that within a square kilometer of his office he nails anything that moves," or is it ever mentioned that Rep. Barney Frank, flawlessly correct on every issue of New Class interest, was wont to use congressional pages as sex robots? These, er, peccadilloes are at least a ludicrous and revealing as the video-poker tics and roulette-wheel trances of the crazed Bennett, but we don't expect to read about them in Newsweek. So to hell with their articles about Bennett.
I don't think that the Barney Frank sex scandal was about pages -- I think Roscoe is confusing two different Congressional scandals here, as Frank's was about a male prostitute of mature years, wasn't it? -- but the general point stands. Here's the McDermott story.
UPDATE: The permalink works now: it's here.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Will Allen emails:
Glenn, I've also always found Bennett tiresome, since I am a vice aficionado (anything worth doing is worth doing well, as they say) , and don't think blowing eight million on gambling is any worse than doing so on yachts, airplanes, buffalo herds, or anyway else that rich people choose to burn their cash. What is most interesting to me is the fact that apparently people in the casino industry acted against their stockholders' or employers' interests is giving documentation regarding Bennett to the press. Whales like Bennett are critical to the profit margin of an expensive-to-run, 5-star casino, so helping the media expose Bennett, and thus convincing him to become an ex-whale, harms the owners of the casino. It sounds to me as if the documents turned over to Newsweek were only available to executives fairly high up the food chain. Assuming that Bennett didn't owe money to the house, which has not been asserted by anyone, somebody at these casinos may have violated their fidiciury duties, which, if I had any interest in such a casino, would irritate me a helluva lot more than anything Bennett has done. If one of the casinos is publicly owned, call the SEC!! I smell a stockholder lawsuit!!
Interesting. I don't know where Newsweek got the documents, and neither does anyone else not directly involved, and a shareholder suit, while not impossible I suppose, seems unlikely to me. But it's worse than Will suggests, actually: they won't just lose Bennett's business, but risk losing the business of any other high rollers who fear that the "what happens here, stays here" claims aren't true. I have no idea how many people like that there are, but the revenue loss would seem likely to exceed any possible gain from releasing the documents.