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Friday, February 17, 2006

From August 2003 to May 2004, I worked as an intern and congressional aide for a prominent US congressman from Central Texas. It was one of the most valuable experiences of my life, and I learned more there about politics than I ever did in any class.

Particularly noteworthy was the experience I had working on the campaign trail. I worked at phone banks, attended fund raisers, and mailed out flyers--all with close proximity to the congressman. I was watching democracy in action.

On the eve of of the congressman's most recent re-election in 2004, I attended the would-be victory party. When the results were announced and the opposition conceded, the crowd burst into celebration, and drinks flowed all around. At the end of the night, the district director announced that she would take care of the tab. We were all pretty impressed, since it sat somewhere around $1500. After that, the campaign and office staff stopped at another bar where the booze flowed just as heavily. Again, the DD antied up and paid the bill.

"Get whatever you want," she told us. "It's on me."

All the staff, including myself, were impressed with her generosity. And it didn't end there. She often paid for lunch for the staff if we'd worked particularly hard, and when a staff member left, there was always a nice parting gift. For Christmas, she thoughtfully bought presents for each staff member. These kindnesses were unexpected and pleasant, but not overly strange.

Today at school, I was talking to a colleague over lunch. Knowing my experience, she asked me if I knew about the recent dirt regarding my former employer. I didn't.

"You haven't heard?" she asked, surprised. "One of this former staff members embezzled $166,000 from his campaign. Did you know her?"

After some questioning, I found out that yes, it was the former district director.

"Basically, when a check was written (to her) on the campaign, one hard copy came back, and [she] would take it out of the envelope and destroy it. No entry was made in the checkbook ledger," the congressman's campaign treasurer said.

In a statement, her lawyer said that the money she took didn't buy big-ticket items, but paid for meals and nights out.

"[My client] deeply regrets her actions and intends to repay all of the money taken without authorization," the attorney said. "She has a serious personal psychological problem that has manifested itself in a spending addiction for which she is seeking long-term professional help."

The congressman said that he and his wife "are both shocked and saddened." He described his former employee as "a friend of over a decade, whom [my wife] and I would have entrusted with anything we have."

Shocking proof of the lengths that people will go to for a buck.1

1I can't help but think of my cousin's ex-wife, who had a similar spending problem.

4 Comments:

Blogger Ben said...

A SPENDING ADDICTION!

I told my parish priest that I had a vaginal fornication addiction, so technically I wasn't sinning, since I couldn't control it.

He agreed, and now I've had sex with every woman in my parish... even the old ones! AND NO ONE CAN STOP ME!

Haha...

ZANE: DRUNK ON YOUR TAX DOLLARS.

1:45 AM  
Blogger Cibbuano said...

It's easy to dodge the label of criminal by saying 'psychological problem. I need help!'

Seems like the truth is, she saw the easy money, stole it and got caught.

I bet it is an addictive feeling, though, being the generous person that everyone likes.

5:33 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Even more addictive than that is being an alcoholic on tax dollars.

3:38 AM  
Blogger Cibbuano said...

God, that's such a good feeling. It feels so good, when it hits your lips!

5:52 PM  

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