Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Thanks for Nothing, Congressman Albert Wynn.

On the surface this story might seem largely local and inconsequential, but if you're outside the DC Urreah, you just might wanna pay attention anyway.

Eight-term U.S. Rep. Albert R. Wynn (D-Md.), who was defeated last month in the Democratic primary, said yesterday he will resign from Congress in June to take a job at a prominent Washington law firm with an active lobbying practice.

His decision to leave before his term ends in January prompted some residents of his district to worry that they will be left without representation for months unless Maryland holds a potentially costly special election to replace him. Several congressional ethics experts also called it highly unusual to announce a resignation months before it takes effect, a situation that might force Wynn to recuse himself from votes.

He lost in the primary by more than 20 percentage points to Donna F. Edwards, a Prince George's nonprofit executive. Wynn would not comment beyond his statement, which did not give a reason for the timing of his resignation.

Ethics experts and watchdog groups characterized Wynn's move as potentially rife with conflicts of interest because he could be confronted with issues related to his new employer's clients while still in office. Wynn suggested that he was leaving early in part to give Edwards the chance to join Congress early through a special election, allowing her to build seniority and get off to a "fast start in serving the citizens of our community."

Under Maryland law, Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) can choose whether to hold a special primary and general election or leave the seat empty until January, when the winner of November's general election will be sworn in. If O'Malley calls a special election, Maryland taxpayers would shoulder the costs. If he elects to leave the seat open, the district would be without congressional representation for at least six months.

House rules say that Wynn will be barred from directly lobbying former colleagues for a year. By leaving office early, he could become a registered lobbyist sooner.
For those of you who just might have missed the point, here's the skinny. My Congressman, a guy I helped put in office a couple of times, is bailing out of his final term in office 6 months early so he can go join a lobbying firm and get rich off steering influence during the upcoming Presidential campaign. He's of course saying he's doing this to benefit his presumed replacement and arch nemesis, but we know better.

Meanwhile, the fine folks of suburban DC are left with ZERO representation in Congress, which I guess, sorta kinda makes us like the real DC, which also has ZERO representation in Congress, albeit permanently.

Donna Edwards, whom I have my qualms about (85% of the money that financed her winning primary campaign came from out of state) as well, can't even take office until she actually, you know, wins the job by beating her Republican opponent in November. This means several hundred thousand people are essentially ass out for half a year unless the state ponies up $2M for a special election in June. Did I mention the state as a whole, as well as the two counties that make up Wynn's jurisdiction are all trimming fat just to balance their budgets for fiscal 08'? So, the special election isn't likely.

I've knocked guys like William Jefferson for doing shady, under-the-table BS before, but damn, this is a whole new level of incompetence. Wynn's already pulled the Trent Lott card, noting that the distinguished gentleman from Mississippi pulled the same stunt last year and nobody blinked. However, Lott resigned just 2 years into a 6 year term, which is pretty different from leaving the job because you're a lame duck who just got your ass kicked in a primary.

I guess it really comes down to the fact that Wynn would rather cash-in (like all politicians eventually do) than do the right thing and serve out the rest of his term for the constituents who kept him in office for nearly two decades. And that just confirms that my decision not to vote for him last month was a wise one.

Happy Trails Fat Albert. Don't let the doorknob hit you on the way out.

Question: Should the fine folks of suburban DC force Wynn to remain in office for the rest of the year or pay $2M to let him go early?

Wynn Decides to Leave Congress Months Before His Term Expires [WaPost]

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