This is nice.
After enlarging their majority in the past two elections, House Republicans have begun to fear that public attention to members’ travel and relations with lobbyists will make ethics a potent issue that could cost the party seats in next year’s midterm races.
Among those endangered are at least two committee chairmen and several other senior members. Congressional districts that traditionally have been safe for Republicans could become more competitive, according to party officials.
Democrats said they plan to capitalize on the junkets issue the same way Republicans leveraged the House bank check-bouncing scandal when they won control of Congress in 1994: as a vivid symbol, understandable to the average voter, of a majority party that has lost touch with voters. A series of polls in the past two months has shown broad dissatisfaction with Congress in general and the Republican leadership in particular, causing the party’s strategists to fret that conditions are ripe for change.
Across the country, lawmakers are being peppered with unwelcome questions from news organizations that are digging into the travel records of their own congressional delegations.
“Join Congress, See the World,” stated a front-page report in the Chicago Tribune. “There’s no locale too exotic or destination too far for Illinois’ delegation to visit in service of its constituents.” The Times-Picayune of New Orleans cracked on its front page, “State’s politicos like to travel — And they like other people to pay for it.” The front page of the May 29 Hartford Courant trumpeted, “Public Trips, Private Funding — State Delegation Frequent Travelers.”
Gee, those papers are beginning to sound like bloggers.