Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX) is chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee (the House GOP’s campaign arm). His finance vice chair, Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) is currently under investigation by the House Ethics Committee for allegedly encouraging a business partner to file a false affidavit related to illegal campaign contributions — allegations Buchanan denies. A recent local television news report on these and other ethics allegations dogging Buchanan reported that a federal grand jury and the FBI are also investigating the car dealer and third-term Congressman.
Despite House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s (R-VA) promised “zero-tolerance” policy on ethical scandals, Buchanan continues to serve on the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and to lead fundraising efforts for his party’s campaign committee. Watchdog groups and Democrats have called on Buchanan to resign — not just from those posts, but from his seat in Congress.
Sessions yesterday brushed aside calls for Buchanan to be removed from his NRCC post. He told the New York Times:
Vern Buchanan is entitled to have a fair hearing. At this point, there is no one that is making an accusation that he cannot sustain. And if it gets to the point where the ethics committee makes some decision, if they do, I’ll be glad to pay attention to that.
He notes that a “huge number of people that are Members of Congress, from outside groups, have been attacked for doing things. He’s not the only one.”
While of course Buchanan and all politicians accused of political corruption are indeed entitled to a fair hearing, Sessions displays stunning hypocrisy on the point.
One of the most prolific of those unnamed “groups” attacking other Members of Congress is Sessions’ own NRCC. In a section of their website called “Democrats’ Dirty Laundry,” Sessions and his staff attack an array of Democratic members over allegations against them, even though they have not had a “fair hearing.”
Each post begins “SPIN CYCLE: Then-Speaker Pelosi Promised that Democrats Would ‘Demand the Highest Ethics from Every Public Servant’” and then contains an allegation against a Democrat described as “RINSE CYCLE.”
Given Cantor’s pledges of zero tolerance — and the wide array of Republicans serving in key roles under ethical investigation — perhaps Sessions should focus on washing his own dirty laundry and pay attention now.