Some seats in Congress are famous and carry strong traditions. There is the Daniel Webster desk and the Jefferson Davis desk. There is the New York Senate seat currently occupied by Hillary Clinton that was previously occupied by equally well-known out-of-staters with strong personalities Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Robert Kennedy. But what about seats of infamy? I believe we may have one on the House Appropriations Committee. When Randy “Duke” Cunningham resigned his seat in Congress and was subsequently sent to prison for his role in a sweeping bribery scandal he also left a seat on the Appropriations Committee, a seat from which he did a lot of his dirty work. That seat remained open until Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) resigned his leadership post after being indicted on money laundering charges. DeLay immediately took Cunningham’s seat on the Appropriations Committee. DeLay later announced that he was going to resign from Congress after one of his top former aides pled guilty to charges in another Congressional scandal, the one that involved Tom DeLay’s “best friend” Jack Abramoff, his former press secretary Michael Scanlon, his former chief of staff Ed Buckham, and lots of money. CongressDailyPM reports that the front-runner for this tainted seat is Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA). Who knows how the seat will corrupt Calvert? Oh wait a second. He’s already involved in some dubious actions (noted previously here). From CongressDailyPM:
The Los Angeles Times reported Monday that Calvert made a significant profit off an empty four-acre tract bought last year after steering an $8 million earmark near the area to build a highway, and $1.5 million to boost commercial development. Those earmarks were included not in an appropriations bill, but in last’s year’s $286.4 billion highway reauthorization bill. Calvert and a business partner bought the lot for $550,000, and sold it for $985,000 a few months after the bill became law — a 79 percent increase in value.
Now that is a sweet deal he’s got going for him. Imagine the kind of stuff that Calvert can earmark near his land holdings when he’s on the Appropriations Committee. Maybe the seat doesn’t corrupt people, it just attracts unseemly types. Or it could go the other way considering Cunningham seemed like an upstanding guy when he came to Congress. One of those chicken or the egg things I guess.