Sunday, December 19, 2004

Senator Chuck Hagel R. France --No Confidence

Senator Chuck Hagel who many in Washington think is planning to run for president in 08 is off to a rocky start as the hint of a scandal begins to grow surrounding his use of an official Senate website for political purposes.

A search by The Hill found at least five overtly political press releases on his Senate website addressing topics ranging from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) complaint filed by the Bush-Cheney campaign against Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to the fitness of the Republican gubernatorial ticket in Nebraska.

The statements, bearing the Senate seal, were posted between May 12, 1998, and March 31, 2004. Direct links to the press statements could no longer be connected to through Hagel’s Senate home page, but they remained cached on his website.

The nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics said Hagel’s official press releases smacked of campaign politics.

This is a clear breach of Senate ethics.

Chapter 6 on political activity in the Senate Ethics Manual states: “Official resources may only be used for official purposes. This principle derives in large part from 31 U.S.C. section 1301(a), providing that official funds are to be used for the purposes for which appropriated. … It is thus inappropriate to use any official resources to conduct campaign or political activities.”

I think it is absolutely unpardonable for senator Hagel to have used his website in this manner and not to have properly prepared his staff to follow Senate ethics rules. It's a manifestation of a clear lack of cogent, clear, straight-talking planning in an election season.

This issue is just astounding to me and it does reflect how out of touch Hagel and his staff are, and how dismissive they are. My goodness, that is the least we can expect of a Senator. If other Senators can obey senate rules why can't Senator Chuck Hagel?

I am not prepared to say Senator Hagel should not serve out his term, that is up to the voters of France, but I have no confidence in Senator Hagel.