Bummer Day for California Women Politicos

The U.S. Senate has been termed “The Most Exclusive Club,” and with good reason: the power and benefits are enormous. Today, Sen. Dianne Feinstein is again in a spotlight for the benefits that have accrued to her husband from her access to such power:

On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband’s real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.

This follows previous allegations that her husband had also profited tremendously from her position on the Senate’s Military Construction Appropriations subcommittee. To date, she’s easily dodged all such criticism and one will see if she continues to retain her Teflon coating.

Meanwhile, an ally of Sen. Feinstein’s in her campaign to provide the government greater unchecked power in surveilling and wiretapping domestically has discovered that being a member of the club didn’t exempt her from being bitten from the beast she fed. Rep. Jane Harman of California was overheard by the NSA offering to get leniency for two former pro-Israel lobbyists on their pending charges of illegally disclosing national defense secrets:

On Sunday, CQ [the Congressional Quarterly] reported that the NSA had wiretapped Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), listening in on a call in which she apparently offered a quid pro quo to a lobbyist group. Harman has vigorously denied the reports. Today, she appeared on MSNBC to express her shock and outrage that her phone calls were listened to, saying she was “disappointed” that the U.S. could have allowed such “a gross abuse of power.”

Yes, Jane, there’s a reason this was supposed to be a government of severely limited powers. As P.J. O’Rourke so eloquently put it, “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” Time to go on the wagon?

Mary L. G. Theroux is Chairman and Chief Executive of the Independent Institute.
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