You have probably read or heard by now that one of Senator Barbara Boxer's used-to-be-senior-aides got busted for trying to bring pot into Capitol Hill. I say 'used-to-be' because they fired him, of course: aside from the bad image generally, as the Politico article notes Sen. Boxer is currently being a War on Some Drugs warrior when it comes to pot legalization. Now, I will not pretend that I do not have a certain rough sympathy for the fellow, coupled with a healthy contempt for his underlying arrogance. As someone privately commented to me on the matter, it must be pretty bad having to got to work for a Senator like Boxer every day: you'd almost need a painkiller. And/or a powerful anti-nauseant. As this is thus only indirectly Sen. Boxer's fault, I'm not inclined to rake her personally over the coals for this.
However, I would like to know why she's buying her own contraband - to wit, purchasing the endorsement of a woman who is up on ethics charges for using her position to profit family members. And no, I'm not joking or exaggerating.
The scheme goes like this: Maxine Waters (D, CA-35) regularly puts out a mailer to LA residents with her sample ballot recommendations. To get on it, you have to pay out money to 'cover the costs.' It's described as 'reimbursement' rather than 'payment' because that way there's no federal campaign funding restrictions, which effectively means that candidates and groups can be charged as much money as Rep. Waters likes. And a third of that money ends up getting funneled into a PR firm owned by Waters' daughter - and before you object: the article linked above notes that the firm's "fees do not include expenses for printing and mailing, which are paid separately by the committee."
And here's the kicker: that payola's all perfectly legal, mind you. Rep. Waters has worked out a method where she can sell her patronage to other Democrats and funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars to her family, and the FEC can't touch her for it (it's also not part of her ethics investigation). In other words, this entire sorry yet profitable scheme is just another scam set up by politicians happy to find ways to evade federal campaign reform law - and Barbara Boxer signed up for it, both now and in 2004 - despite her pious hope (expressed when she enthusiastically supported McCain-Feingold) that Congress was "moving to get control of a system that is out of control."
Although I suppose that in a way it did; and at any rate, there's the mistake of Sen. Boxer's luckless staffer. He indulged in a drug (pot) that his boss was ostensibly fighting a war against - but what he should have done was indulged in a drug (payola) that his boss was ostensibly fighting a war against, while still indulging in the drug herself. If he had, he'd still be gainfully employed right now.
PS: Carly for California. Because Maxine Waters will never endorse her.
Crossposted to Moe Lane.