, ,

It’s probably too late to unspoil this child. Senator Kit Bond has been sent to his room without dinner twice in less than a week. But in both cases, he whined all the way up the stairs to his bedroom that he didn’t do it, in defiance of the fact that the principle caught him in the act.

Last Tuesday, WillyK wrote about a Monday K.C. Star account of how Bond got Todd Graves fired as U.S. Attorney from western Missouri for refusing to tell  his brother, Congressman Sam Graves, to fire his chief of staff, Jeff Roe. Now the Sunday Post-Dispatch calls Bond on the carpet for his hypocritical tough talk about regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Although Bond tried to hide behind one prevarication and dodge after another, the P-D showed that in 2004, he had gone after the agency that regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, attempting to bully Armando Falcon, Jr., the head of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, into relenting about enforcement of accounting rules.  

OK, so he’s caught, red handed and red faced. It won’t be enought to reform him, but still it’s satisfying to see his own colorful words turned against him.

In a somber Senate speech last month, Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond said the government takeover of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provided an opportunity to create a tough new regulator with stronger powers and better leadership.

In an interview afterward, the Missouri Republican said that without stronger government oversight, the takeover would be like “painting the outhouse a different color – it doesn’t improve the operation, or the odor.”

But four years ago, the scent regulators and watchdog groups detected was coming from Bond’s office and his seemingly cozy relationship with Fannie Mae officials.

How cozy? $95,000 worth since 1989. The regular payoffs were good enough to motivate him to threaten to pull $10 million in funding from the agency if it persisted in enforcing the accounting rules. Read the article if you want a detailed account of the maze of excuses our senator offered for the incident, including the comical claim that he, Bond, thought the OFHEO wasn’t tough enough. As a spokesman for Citizens Against Government Waste put it: “‘How does it logically track that if you don’t think they’re being tough enough, you take their money away?'”

In fairness, Bond wasn’t the only one getting Fannie Mae money. He was only eighth. Democrat Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, was first with $165,000. And our own Lacy Clay, having taken $10,000, attacked Falcon as well, calling his charges against Fannie Mae CEO Raines a “political lynching.”

Now, noting Clay’s part in this episode does not mean that I put him and Kit Bond in the same circle of hell. I’m sorry to see the appearance of a payoff in Clay’s case, but I also know his record as a whole, and most of it is excellent. Bond, on the other hand, has a history of fronting for businesses and industries that don’t deserve help–think Briggs and Stratton. And his abuse of power goes beyond mere money to include, in the case of Todd Graves, petulance over a petty territorial dispute.

So Kit Bond I write off. He was spoiled from the get go, and neither the rod nor every time out the P-D can inflict will change him. It is a shame, though, to see good Democrats sucked into the money game. Above a certain level it’s virtually unavoidable, and we’ve grown .. if not hardened, at least used to hearing about Democrats who deliver for their campaign contributors.

So I winced at this headline on the op ed page today: “Biden, local law firms have close ties.” Hoping against hope that I wasn’t about to see corruption revealed, I read it and learned that Biden takes money from firms that sue asbestos producers on behalf of people who’ve been harmed by the product. Biden has opposed legislation that would make it harder for those victims to sue for compensation. His spokesman explained:

Americans are “tired of big powerful corporate interests writing the rules and sticking it to the little guy,” Wade said in an e-mail responding to questions from the Post-Dispatch. “In Joe Biden, they’ve got a champion with a 35-year Senate record defending victims’ rights to have their day in court and hold big interests accountable.”

Of course he takes money from law firms that do what he honestly believes is necessary work. No dreaded revelation there. Whew! Dodged that bullet.

But I’m not confident that I won’t be wounded by another one before election day. Our campaign finance system lays down a pattern of deadly fire, and we’ve all been struck by cynicism, not just about bully boys like Bond, but about our own. It’s sad.

Photos courtesy of the Post-Dispatch