Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Senator Al Franken (D-MN) can only serve the purpose of keeping Franken in the Senate. Senate and House Ethics Committees are where ethics complaints go to die. These panels are useful to the leadership because they allow them to argue that the Committees are the “appropriate venue” for ethics allegations, knowing full well the result will be delay until the furor blows over.
Franken understands this, and called for an ethics investigation of himself. The last member of Congress to do this was Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) in the wake of our exposé that he did not disclose, or pay taxes on, rental income from his beachfront villa in the Dominican Republic.
The Rangel case is the exception that proves the rule. The Ethics Committee “admonished” him, and he had to resign as Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The only time that ethics committees act, as in the cases of Rangel and former Senator John Ensign (R-NV), is when the public and media outcry is so strong that they have to do something.
A more appropriate response from McConnell would be to seek Franken’s resignation. One might conclude that the veteran McConnell is just being careful. After all, there are plenty of Republicans who might face similar allegations, so he doesn’t want set a precedent. Although this calculation is morally bankrupt, it is at least rational.
The only problem is that McConnell and his aides are working around the clock to destroy the candidacy of Roy Moore in Alabama, and even exploring ways to deprive him of the seat if he is elected.
Various media are reporting that Franken “apologized.” Not quite. He said that he does not remember the skit rehearsal with the “fish lips” kiss. He apologized for the groping that he could not deny because of the now-famous photo.
There are no photos of Roy Moore’s alleged indiscretions, some now more than 30 years old. I have no idea whether any or all of these allegations are true, but they did explode in the final days of a critical political campaign, so they should receive maximum scrutiny. McConnell is all for due process for Franken, another member of the Club, but apparently not for Moore.
To his critics, Moore’s real crime is less his sexual behavior than his religious beliefs. McConnell’s PAC conducted an expensive and vicious campaign against Moore even before the allegations. The prospect of Moore joining the Club has created panic among the Republican establishment because their real constituency is Corporate America, which is firmly in the grip of the cultural Left, with all the hostility to religiosity that comes with it.