McInnis tenure ends on sour note
When U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis announced in late 2003 that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election, he noted that he was doing so at a time of his own choosing.”I have no political threat, no ethics problem, hopefully no health problem and a wonderful marriage,” McInnis e-mailed supporters.But thanks to some more recent poor judgment on the Glenwood Springs native’s part, he will step down from Congress with a bit of a stain on his record.The Washington Post reported earlier this month that McInnis has paid his wife, Lori, more than $40,000, plus a benefit plan of $1,150 per month, to serve as campaign manager. Trouble is, there was no campaign to manage.McInnis’ staff is quick to point out that his wife still has had plenty to do, between doling out funds from his campaign chest to other Republican candidates, shutting down the campaign and working on a collection of McInnis archives at Fort Lewis College in Durango. And other members of Congress continue to manage campaign funds long after they leave office.But appearances still matter. It’s easy for a lay person to view this simply as a case of McInnis’ wife being put in charge of running a nonexistent campaign. Had it been someone else doing the job, this might have drawn minimal attention. But when it’s her, eyebrows are raised among campaign watchdog groups, and among Democrats happy to take a Republican down a notch or two.The situation is a shame in the sense that McInnis has had an otherwise-unblemished ethical record during his 12 years in Congress and prior service in the Colorado House of Representatives. And his wife, though unelected herself, has long made the sacrifices of a veritable public servant by being a congressman’s spouse. Even as she had to endure long periods of her husband being away in Washington, she volunteered for him in a support capacity for many years before starting to be paid four years ago.While others in Congress have hired relatives to work on campaigns, it’s too bad McInnis didn’t realize that in a year when he wasn’t campaigning, it would look inappropriate to employ his wife as campaign manager, whatever her actual duties might be.The reputations of McInnis and his wife will survive this setback. But it’s still unfortunate that he made it possible for his time in office to conclude with his and Lori’s integrity being questioned.The reputations of McInnis and his wife will survive this setback. But it’s still unfortunate that he made it possible for his time in office to conclude with his and Lori’s integrity being questioned.
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