Now THIS Is The “Appearance of Impropriety”!

Was Joe Biden’s nomination of Senator Joe Manchin’s wife to a $165,000 post in his administration a bribe or a pay-off? So far, there’s no way to tell, but there is also no question about whether it creates an appearance of impropriety, which undermines public trust in the government, assuming there is any left at this point. It does. In fact, I can’t think of a more vivid example. The ethics rules governing government employees and judges, as well as members of Congress, prohibit conduct that creates the appearance of impropriety. The President and Vice-President are not covered by the rules. The circumstances around this appointment create only, well, circumstantial evidence of corruption, but then that’s what “appearance” means. It is conduct that creates suspicion.

Boy, does this ever.

Two days after Sen. Manchin cast a last-minute deciding vote on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s that advanced Biden’s controversial Pentagon policy nominee, Colin Kahl, to the full Senate, Manchin’s wife Gayle was announced as the surprise nominee to be federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission. The agency focuses on investing in Appalachia’s economic future by “providing grants, publishing research, and sponsoring learning experience.”

This, several news sources wrote, “raises questions about whether there was any connection between his vote and his wife’s nomination.” Ya think? The Biden administration has made it clear that if a nominee isn’t gay, trans, non-white, disabled, or a fire-breathing radical, there is no place for he/she/whatever. Why would a middle-of-the road, white woman from West Virginia qualify, other than the fact that she is, in fact, qualified for the job by those old fashioned, racist standards of yore?

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No, A Democratic Senator Attending A Party In Honor Of A Trump Appointee He Opposed Isn’t “Hypocrisy”…It’s Called “Statesmanship,” “Sportsmanship,” And “Professionalism”

To be fair, we see so little of either now that many may no longer be able to recognize the two traits any more.

The Washington Free Beacon, a conservative news source wrote,

A Democratic senator who couldn’t “in good conscience” vote for Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross still attended a ritzy cocktail party welcoming him to the nation’s capital.On Wednesday, Georgetown socialite and Washington Post editor Lally Weymouth, daughter of the paper’s former publisher, Katherine Graham, hosted a “Welcome to Washington, D.C.” party for Ross at the Georgetown mansion of former Republican diplomat C. Boyden Gray. West Virginia’s Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin attended that party, according to Politico Playbook, rubbing shoulders with Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Manchin’s attendance marked an about-face for the Democrat, who attempted to block Ross’s cabinet appointment.

In February, Manchin said he could not “in good conscience … give Wilbur Ross a promotion.” The senator credited Ross’s career as a billionaire investor—which earned him the nickname ” King of Bankruptcy”—and his involvement in the West Virginia mining industry for his decision to oppose the appointment along with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“Following my extensive vetting, meeting with him, watching his nomination and reaching out to West Virginians who have worked with him directly, I cannot in good conscience look the families of the fallen Sago miners or the Weirton Steel workers who lost their jobs in the eye knowing I voted to give Wilbur Ross a promotion,” Manchin said in a statement at the time….

Steven Law, president of the GOP Senate Leadership Fund, criticized his attendance as a sign of “Washington hypocrisy.” “Apparently Joe Manchin’s ‘good conscience’ waits in the car while he stops in for cocktails on the Washington D.C. party circuit,” Law said in a statement. “Senate Leadership Manchin thinks he can fool West Virginia voters with his Washington hypocrisy, but we believe they are catching on to Manchin’s worn-out act.”

So it was principled, then, for Rep. John Lewis to boycott President Trump’s inauguration? It’s principled, then, for Democrats to refuse to respect the office of the President, because they didn’t vote for Donald Trump. Is that what Steven Law is saying?

Do Republicans think before they make statements like this? Continue reading

Four Unethical Dispatches From The 2016 Post Election Ethics Train Wreck: #1

harry-reid

Ethics Alarms must now designate the collective freakout following Donald Trump’s victory and the massive national rejection of the Democratic party as an Ethics Train Wreck, distinct from the two candidates’ individual train wrecks that engulfed their campaigns. So far, most of the passengers leaping onto the metaphorical rambling wreckage hail from the progressive and Democratic ranks, not helping their crumbling national stature at all.

Coming up in four posts are four recent screeds and missives that demonstrate various degrees and kinds of ethics rot. The rot is wide and deep, and helps explain why so many young American think that pointless chanting, shouting and violence is a rational response to a disappointing election result.

I. Nevada Senator Harry Reid

Senate minority leader Harry Reid released this statement about the election of Donald Trump:

I have personally been on the ballot in Nevada for 26 elections and I have never seen anything like the reaction to the election completed last Tuesday. The election of Donald Trump has emboldened the forces of hate and bigotry in America.

“White nationalists, Vladimir Putin and ISIS are celebrating Donald Trump’s victory, while innocent, law-abiding Americans are wracked with fear – especially African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Muslim Americans, LGBT Americans and Asian Americans. Watching white nationalists celebrate while innocent Americans cry tears of fear does not feel like America.

“I have heard more stories in the past 48 hours of Americans living in fear of their own government and their fellow Americans than I can remember hearing in five decades in politics. Hispanic Americans who fear their families will be torn apart, African Americans being heckled on the street, Muslim Americans afraid to wear a headscarf, gay and lesbian couples having slurs hurled at them and feeling afraid to walk down the street holding hands. American children waking up in the middle of the night crying, terrified that Trump will take their parents away. Young girls unable to understand why a man who brags about sexually assaulting women has been elected president.

“I have a large family. I have one daughter and twelve granddaughters. The texts, emails and phone calls I have received from them have been filled with fear – fear for themselves, fear for their Hispanic and African American friends, for their Muslim and Jewish friends, for their LBGT friends, for their Asian friends. I’ve felt their tears and I’ve felt their fear.

“We as a nation must find a way to move forward without consigning those who Trump has threatened to the shadows. Their fear is entirely rational, because Donald Trump has talked openly about doing terrible things to them. Every news piece that breathlessly obsesses over inauguration preparations compounds their fear by normalizing a man who has threatened to tear families apart, who has bragged about sexually assaulting women and who has directed crowds of thousands to intimidate reporters and assault African Americans. Their fear is legitimate and we must refuse to let it fall through the cracks between the fluff pieces.

“If this is going to be a time of healing, we must first put the responsibility for healing where it belongs: at the feet of Donald Trump, a sexual predator who lost the popular vote and fueled his campaign with bigotry and hate. Winning the electoral college does not absolve Trump of the grave sins he committed against millions of Americans. Donald Trump may not possess the capacity to assuage those fears, but he owes it to this nation to try.

“If Trump wants to roll back the tide of hate he unleashed, he has a tremendous amount of work to do and he must begin immediately.”

Observations: Continue reading