Monday, September 10, 2007

Sen. Clinton shows Sen. Tester the way on ethics?

Sen. Jim Webb infamously assumed responsibility for the conduct of the Iraq war in his response to the President's last State of the Union Address, when he said on behalf of the Democratic Party that if the President didn't take action, "we will be showing him the way." No word on whether Sen. Webb's directives are making it to the generals in the field -- but that is another story.

Today, we have a "show the way" story with a sort of "man bites dog" flavor to it. A Clinton, of all people, showed our squeaky-clean Sen. Jon Tester the way today. The way, that is, that he should have responded to the discovery that he had some potential funny-money in his campaign coffers.

As we pointed out yesterday, it should have been a no-brainer for Sen. Tester to return or donate to charity the money funneled to him in the last campaign that came via the ministrations of fugitive fundraising felon Norman Hsu.

Sen. Clinton announced this evening that she would be returning $850,000 in contributions raised by Hsu. Even for a campaign as cash-rich as Clinton's, that has to smart just a bit.

And yet Sen. Tester couldn't figure out what to do with a mere $3750.

Sen. Clinton's campaign spokesman said: "we have decided out of an abundance of caution to return the money (Hsu) raised for our campaign."

Hm. An abundance of caution? Isn't that sort of like going out of one's way to avoid any association with unethical conduct -- i.e. the sort of thing that Sen. Tester and his supporters archly pointed out that they (unlike the evil Sen. Burns) would always do?

You know, the "above it all" sort of thing -- like posting a daily schedule and acting like it was an ethical and moral act on the level of Moses bringing the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai.

There may have been nothing illegal about the contributions that Tester received. You can bet that there was probably nothing illegal about most of the money Clinton is returning, either.

Sen. Clinton has learned a thing or two over the years about the dangers of appearing to do something wrong or appearing to cover it up. It's one of the strengths that she brings to the table in her bid for the White House.

One would think that Tester wouldn't have to learn such a lesson, since ethics related to fundraising played just a wee bit of a role in his campaign and subsequent victory. But one would have thought wrong.

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