Saturday, October 19, 2013

Tom Foley's Leadership of the US House

Long-time Washinton Congressman and Speaker of the House of Representatives Tom Foley died this week. He led the House for six years and led his Democrats in the House to thorough defeat in the election of 1994. He even lost his own seat when the voters in Spokane and rural eastern Washington told him to come home. And he did, but they didn't see him. He continued to live in Washington, DC, his home.

This is the place to say he is remembered for working across the aisle, etc. But I have no memory of him being other than a Democrat partisan who talked conservative in his Eastern-Washington district and was an establishment power player inside the beltway. For instance:

He sued the voters of Washington!!

And he expected them to reelect him? The voters of the state passed Initiative 573 to limit Congressmen to 6 consecutive years in the House and Senators to 12 years. Someone had to put us in our places. So Foley bravely sued us. Christian Science Monitor - Ballot Pedia

He led the defense against investigation of the House Post Office. Examiner

The Capitol Police investigated embezzlement charges in the House of Representatives Post Office. Originally, they targeted a solitary employee, but the investigation quickly expanded to include many workers. The Democratic leadership quickly moved to stop the investigation. Clearly, they feared what the police would discover.

The U.S. Post Office took up the case and issued a scathing report. Speaker of the House Tom Foley did his best to censor the report, but elements leaked to the press. In 1992, news of embezzlement and money laundering trickled out to the public. Congress launched an investigation designed to whitewash the affair. In July, the Democratic report claimed an end to the scandal. The Republican report disagreed and raised serious questions about the House Post Office.

What Post Office scandal? Say you were a Congressman and got a check for $1,000 from a lobbyist. You had use for that money; you didn't want to put it into your reelection account. So you would take it to the House Post Office and buy a sheet of stamps for $5.00 and get $995.00 in cash back. Nice, eh? Illegal? Yes. One of the House's most powerful Democrats, Dan Rostenkowski, went to jail for his involvement.

The House Banking Scandal

There was a similar privilege in the House's own bank. If Congressman XYZ overdrew his checking account they let it slide. Say he overdrew it by $10,000. The bank could wait until pay day, or the next pay day or the one after that. I don't find any fingerprints of House Speaker Foley on a cover up of this. But he was the leader of the entire House; it was on his watch. Examiner

That's the Tom Foley I remember.

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