Three scandals involving politicians were made public in the past week. The odds are you've heard of only one -- the arrest of Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho for allegedly soliciting homosexual sex in a restroom in the Minneapolis airport.
But The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that a lower-middle-class family in suburban San Francisco has contributed $45,000 to Hillary Clinton and $200,000 total to Democratic candidates since 2005, contributions they almost certainly couldn't afford on the $49,000 annual salary chief breadwinner William Paw earned as a postal worker.
Contributions from the Paw family often were made on the same day as contributions from Norman Hsu, a New York businessman who has been one of Ms. Clinton's top fundraisers, the Journal said. Mr. Hsu once listed the Daly City bungalow where the Paw family lives as his residence.
Mr. Hsu is a fugitive, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday. He pleaded no contest to a charge of grand theft in 1991, but left California surreptitiously before he was to begin serving a three-year prison sentence.
Mr. Hsu has donated nearly half a million dollars to Ms. Clinton and other Democrats since 2004, including Gov. Ed Rendell, and bundled donations for half a million more from other donors, many of them, like the Paws, with no history of donating to political candidates.
Mr. Hsu isn't the only Clinton fund raiser in whom the law has an interest. In May, Abdul Rahman Jinnah, a Pakistani immigrant, surrendered to the FBI. He is accused of illegally funneling tens of thousands of dollars to Ms. Clinton and to Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Also on Wednesday, the Federal Elections Commission levied the third highest fine in its history -- $775,000 -- on Americans Coming Together for flouting campaign finance laws in 2004. The group claimed it was using money for nonpartisan purposes when in fact it was spending millions to defeat President Bush, the FEC said.
Sex scandals are, er, sexier than money scandals, which is one reason why you've heard more about the travails of Sen. Craig than you have about Mr. Hsu or Mr. Jinnah or ACT. But there is another.
Associated Press reporter David Espo did a story Thursday ("GOP Reeling from Money and Sex Scandals"), which mentioned Sen. Craig, the recent FBI raid on the home of Alaska Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and that the telephone number of Louisiana GOP Sen. David Vitter was found in the phone book of a Washington, D.C., madam.
Mr. Espo said nothing about the financial scandals swirling about Ms. Clinton and ACT. He referred back to the 2006 scandals involving GOP former Reps. Bob Ney and Mark Foley, but said nothing about the FBI's investigation of West Virginia Democrat Alan Mollohan, whose net worth soared from $500,000 to more than $6 million in four years.
Every Republican tainted by scandal in 2006 either resigned his office or was defeated for re-election. Rep. Mollohan and Rep. William "Cold Cash" Jefferson, D-La, in whose refrigerator the FBI found $90,000 of bribe money, were re-elected by comfortable margins.
When a scandal involves a Republican, his or her party affiliation is mentioned in the lead. When it involves a Democrat, party affiliation typically is mentioned deep in the story, if at all.
But media bias is not the main reason why Republicans suffer more from scandals. Democratic voters expect Democrats to steal on their behalf. Lawmakers are judged on the basis of how many goodies from the federal treasury they can shower on their constituents. The typical Democratic voter doesn't mind terribly if their senator or congressman takes something for himself along the way. (Time Magazine's story on Rep. Mollohan's re-election was headlined, "Pork Trumps Scandal.")
The typical Republican voter wants his senator or congressman to keep his taxes low, his government honest. He is furious when GOP lawmakers stick their fingers in the cookie jar, or give lip service to values they do not practice.
Republicans must be squeaky clean to win elections because their voters will crucify them for behavior Democratic voters wink at so long as the pork keeps flowing. This is why his GOP colleagues already have stripped Sen. Craig of his committee assignments, and many have called for his resignation, while Democratic senators are comfortable having among them a man who left to drown in his automobile a young woman with whom he was having an extramarital affair.