Thursday, July 9, 2009

Keep Your JumpOffs Off The Payroll, Fellas.

Noboby will accuse politricians of being geniuses, and when you add the element of mistresses, it's no wonder these guys completely lose their minds. You would think that after Kwame "Yaw's Boy" Kilpatrick got himself in trouble, mainly because his sidepiece was on the city payroll as his Chief Of STAFF (the irony), these other guys would learn to not buy their meat where they get their bread.

Clearly, Marion Barry and John Ensign didn't get the memo.
Sen. John Ensign said Thursday his parents gave his mistress and her family nearly $100,000 "out of concern for the well being of longtime family friends during a difficult time," providing his first public acknowledgment that the woman received payments tied to the affair.

In a statement through his attorney, Ensign described the April 2008 payment as a single check for $96,000 given to Cindy and Doug Hampton and two of their children. The Hampton family received the check after the senator told his parents of his affair with Cindy Hampton, a campaign aide and longtime friend.

"None of the gifts came from campaign or official funds, nor were they related to any campaign or official duties," Ensign's Dallas-based attorney, Paul Coggins, said in a statement. "Sen. Ensign has complied with all applicable laws and Senate ethics rules."

The statement comes a day after Doug Hampton told a Las Vegas television show that Ensign paid Cindy Hampton more than $25,000 in severance when she left her job as treasurer for two Ensign-controlled campaign committees in May 2008.
I suppose Ensign learned a thing or two from John Edwards' debacle. Edwards, of course, infamously hired his mistress to shoot a self-serving documentary and paid her with singles campaign donations. Genius.

Not so genius? DC Councilman Marion Barry, who simply cannot stay out of trouble.
D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray will enlist an independent law firm to investigate the $60,000 contract that council member Marion Barry awarded to his then-girlfriend, sources said.

The probe, which Gray will formally announce today, comes amid mounting pressure for city leaders to respond to Barry's use of tax dollars to hire Donna Watts-Brighthaupt, the woman at the center of his July 4 arrest on a misdemeanor stalking charge that was later dropped.

In an interview yesterday with The Washington Post, Watts-Brighthaupt raised further questions about the contract when she said she was hired to study Barry's political life. That would appear to contradict the terms of the contract, which stated that she would be consulting on "poverty reduction strategies."

Yesterday, in his first remarks since the arrest, Barry, 73, refused to comment on the $5,000-a-month contract. Instead, he blasted the U.S. Park Police, saying they inappropriately arrested him.

Barry hired Watts-Brighthaupt, 40, as a contractor in his office in October, two months after she said they began dating.

According to the initial contract Barry submitted to the secretary of the council, Watts-Brighthaupt was supposed to focus on poverty issues "with a particular focus on affordable housing, supportive services, special needs populations and government income support programs."

Watts-Brighthaupt said she was actually tasked with boosting civic participation. She said the project, "Emerging Leaders of Ward 8," studied Barry's political techniques to create a program to develop young leaders.

"I wanted to know how Marion Barry kept getting reelected and how people choose to vote," Watts-Brighthaupt said. "I learned quite a bit about Marion I am going to take . . . away from this."

Watts-Brighthaupt provided a draft of a brochure for the "Emerging Leaders of Ward 8" program. According to the brochure, the leadership program would train Ward 8 residents, ages 18 to 40, on everything from how D.C. government works to public speaking.

So far, Watts-Brighthaupt has been paid $15,000, and at Barry's request, the secretary of the council has approved an additional payment of $5,000.
Sorry, but there's no way to justify this sorta nonsense. Using city funds to rescue your girlfriend from financial ruin by hiring her to write a paper about "poverty issues" is just stoopid.

It should be noted that while Barry has definitely been in trouble several times in the past, this is perhaps the first time that his missteps have actually amounted to an ethical breech. Sure, smoking crack with a prostitute is really dumb, but those are personal demons. Giving away money to your ladyfriend when the city is strapped for cash is positively Sharpe Jamesian in nature, and in my opinion, Barry's just used his ninth life.

Question: Will this be the proverbial final nail in Barry's coffin? Why do you think the Ensign affair got hardly any press?

Ensign's parents gave mistress's family $96K [AP]

Probe Set On Barry's Hiring of Girlfriend [WashPost]

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