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An end to the Campbell love fest
Dear Editors, I hate to be the one to
interrupt the present love fest between the local media and Ben
Nighthorse Campbell now that he has announced his retirement. But I
cannot join in. After reading reports about Sen. Campbell's Chief
of Staff getting caught with her hand in the taxpayers' cookie jar,
I have to marvel. Many years ago, I served as a congressional aide.
Unlike at Campbell's office, if any of us had tried something like
this, our boss would have had our guts for garters.Campbell's chief
was receiving kickbacks from other staff members from bonuses she
arranged. The reports and her own statements make it pretty clear
she was receiving these illegal payments for personal expenses. It
was also alleged that Campbell knew full well the details of this
scheme. Whether the senator also participated should be the subject
of a criminal investigation. Call me a cynic, but it sure looks to
me like the prospect of an investigation, rather than the old saw
"to spend more time with his family," precipitated his sudden
decision to leave his powerful Senate seat.
The reports indicate
Campbell knew about the alleged illegal activities. They were
outlined in a resignation letter from another staffer submitted to
the senator last year.
Yet Campbell took no
action until the allegations were uncovered by the reporter for the
Denver Post . And then the actions Campbell took
were designed more to cover up this scandal than to reveal it.
Instead of turning all the evidence over to the FBI, Campbell
submitted it to the Senate Ethics Committee, a group he has had
more than passing familiarity with in the past.
But here comes the joke on us taxpayers. The ethics committee
has no jurisdiction over former members or staff. So with the
senator's retirement, he has insulated himself from any adverse
If there is any question about the seriousness ofallegations
involving congressional staff kickbacks, I suggest that you review
the case of Congressman Traficant. He is presently cooling his
heals in a federal penitentiary for eight years, convicted of
exactly the same sort of kickback scheme.