Obviously, there’s no shortage of things going on…Rep. John Conyers and his use of taxpayer-funded staff as babysitters, personal chauffeurs and campaign workers (read the tepid press release from the House Ethics Committee here; the Washington Examiner weighs in with a tough editorial here). House Democrats have apparently chosen to exclude Republicans from participating in the deliberations over the opening legislative agenda in the 110th Congress, according to the Washington Post–including the package of ethics reforms. I can’t say I’m surprised by this, but it seems to me that if there’s one subject that requires a lot of thought, debate and discussion, and requires some bipartisan consensus, it’s how we fix the way our special-interest-beholden, publicly denigrated Congress goes about its business. It seems to me that the goal should be to render as transparent as possible the way that, say, a Rep. John Murtha operates. I’d be willing to wait an extra 100 hours, or even 200 hours, to get there. That said, I’m not entirely persuaded that involving House Republicans would do the trick.
But, seeing how this is the beginning not only of a new Congress but also a new presidential election campaign, I thought I’d note a curious little item I saw at the bottom of the Dec. 29, 2006, “Names & Faces” feature of the Washington Post:
The sale of John Edwards’s Georgetown home closed on schedule Wednesday afternoon with a final sale price of $5.2 million — almost half a million less than the family was asking for. An insider says the four-story residence was purchased by a corporation.
There’s a little more background here, and the Post ran a lengthy feature on the house here. It seemed kind of odd to me that a corporation would buy what’s described as a “family friendly” house, and worth finding out who the buyer is. I checked the District of Columbia’s Real Property Sales Database, but didn’t the find the record of the sale–I’m guessing that there’s some delay in entering the information to make it available online.
I think it’s always wise to be curious about the financial doings of politicians–Congress’s own ethics manuals state that the purpose of financial disclosure is to keep citizens informed about potential conflicts of interest. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to make sense of those disclosures, or to get a full picture of who a public official is in business with from the information provided…