And now the ethics-chal­lenged Mol­lo­han

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

Rep. Alan Mol­lo­han, West Vir­ginia Demo­crat, is the next em­bar­rass­ment for Nancy Pelosi’s “most eth­i­cal Congress in his­tory.” Mr. Mol­lo­han is slated to chair the ap­pro­pri­a­tions panel which over­sees the bud­get of the Jus­tice De­part­ment, in­clud­ing the FBI. But the FBI is cur­rently in­ves­ti­gat­ing him for pos­si­ble ap­pro­pri­a­tions and eth­i­cal im­pro­pri­eties.

The 11-term law­maker stepped down as rank­ing Demo­crat on the House Ethics Com­mit­tee in early 2006 pend­ing the out­come of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion. There are two con­tro­ver­sies here: one con­cern­ing a sus­pi­cious surge in Mr. Mol­lo­han’s per­sonal wealth in con­nec­tion with real es­tate in­vest­ments — his net worth surged from the low-to-mid six fig­ures in 1999 to at least $6.8 mil­lion and as much as $25 mil­lion by 2005 — while he was in of­fice; and one con­cern­ing $250 mil­lion in fed­eral ap­pro­pri­a­tions to five non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tions that Mr. Mol­lo­han him­self set up and which em­ploy his friends and some of his cam­paign con­trib­u­tors.

Both are trou­bling for their own rea­sons. In one case, the West Vir­ginia law- maker pur­chased real es­tate with a long­time friend who is also a re­cip­i­ent of money from his ear­marks. It took a com­plaint by a con­ser­va­tive watch­dog, the Na­tional Le­gal and Pol­icy Cen­ter, be­fore Mr. Mol­lo­han prop­erly re­ported his net worth, in­clud­ing sub­stan­tially un­der­val­ued as­sets, undis­closed real es­tate hold­ings and in­ter­ests in com­pa­nies to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Then there is the ear­mark­ing, which seem­ingly shows that crony­ism has been Mr. Mol­lo­han’s modus operandi for years. When the New York Times re­ported the story in April, it char­ac­ter­ized the ar­range­ment as “a cozy, cross-pol­li­nated net­work” in which Mol­lo­han-re­cruited ex­ec­u­tives “pro­vide him with steady cam­paign con­tri­bu­tions and pos­i­tive pub­lic­ity in their news­let­ters.” One ex­ec­u­tive re­signed af­ter the reve­la­tion of his tax­payer-funded salary of $500,000. Highly com­pen­sated jobs and lav­ish tax­payer funded ear­marks for their foun­da­tions were Mr. Mol­lo­han’s backscratch­ing for friends. They scratched his back with re­elec­tion money.

Mrs. Pelosi: What was that about the “cul­ture of cor­rup­tion”?

Af­ter the failed bids to in­stall the Ab­scam-plagued Rep. Jack Murtha as ma­jor­ity leader and the pre­vi­ously im­peached Rep. Al­cee Hast­ings as Intelligence Com­mit­tee chair­man, we’d have thought that Democrats learned the les­son. But now Mrs. Pelosi wants to give a key ap­pro­pri­a­tions slot to a law­maker who can’t keep his friends’ hands off huge sums of tax dol­lars.

That’s quite a turn for the “most eth­i­cal Congress in his­tory.”

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