Saturday, February 03, 2007

LOBGate We Hardly Knew’Ya

After LOBgaters Rick Lopes and Stephen Palmer had been disciplined, the usually verbose Senate Democratic spokesman, Patrick Scully issued a brief statement: "Although the actions of the employees were not criminal, it should be clear that Senate Democrats take this situation very seriously and consider the behavior of the individuals unprofessional and unacceptable. Such conduct will not be tolerated. Appropriate disciplinary action has been taken in this case."

The two aides, both attached to the government administration and elections committee, the legislative committee that earlier investigated improprieties committed by Gov. Jodi Rell’s chief aide Lisa Moody, were caught on tape rifling through the desk of Republican aide Juliannna Simone, who was interviewed after the event by channel 8 reporter Mark Davis.

House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., who in an early report had briefly mentioned Watergate in connection with the high jinks of the two fun loving Democrat aides, thought the punishment was unsatisfactory. One aide was suspended and another is due for reassignment. At the very least, Lopes and Palmer had created “a hostile work environment for Simone,” Caferno said. "This just moves the hostile work environment to another location."

Apparently, there will be no further investigation by the government administration and elections committee, which has exhausted itself holding hearings on Republican misdeeds.

The Moody hearing, it will be recalled, followed an investigation in which Moody was cleared of criminal wrongdoing. At hearings, it becomes possible to catch the person being interrogated by legislators in a misrepresentation and afterwards prosecute, or threaten to prosecute, for perjury. No such indignity will await the two amateur plumbers whose discipline has satisfied Scully and the leadership of the Democrat dominated legislature. Power does, after all, have its prerogatives.

The inspector Javier of the Moody hearings was co-chairman of the government administration and elections committee Christopher Caruso, a Bridgeport Democrat who is to ethical probity what Mother Teresa was to charitable works. Moody claimed she had not read with sufficient attention a memo on which she had made marginal comments. My own insignificant contribution to the Moody affair was a column in which I wondered why no one, defending those who cannot remember memos they have signed, had yet proposed the Bronson Alcott defense on Moody’s behalf.

“Alcott,” I wrote, “was the father of Lousia May Alcott and a noted transcendentalist. One day while walking in the woods with a friend, thinking deep transcendental thoughts, he collided with tree and was promptly felled. He picked himself up, brushed himself off, and proceeded to explain to his friend that the accident had occurred because, while he had seen the tree, he hadn’t realized it.”

The Alcott defense may profitably be invoked in the present case.

For instance, we saw the video showing the two Democrat staffers riffling through the drawers of the only Republican staffer on the government administration and elections committee – the very same group of erstwhile ethicists that eased Republican Gov. John Rowland into a Loretto, Pennsylvania prison – but we hadn’t realized it.

We suspect that the harassment endured by Simone was either personal or political but, preferring to regard it as a prank, rather as if Lopes and Palmer were preadolescents dipping their victim’s pigtail in an inkwell, we have yet to realize it. Perhaps the ransacking of her workspace did have a political dimension that will never be fully appreciated in the absence of a legislative investigation.

To get to a legislative hearing we must first get by the gatekeepers, all of whom have an interest in persuading objective observers that Democrat functionaries need not be inconvenienced by such political puff-puffery.
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