Remarking on the guilty verdict in the recently concluded trial of former radio talk show host John Rowland, Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney noted, "It's very sad to see.” Mr. Rowland’s fall from grace was due “at least in part” to arrogance, but it was also related to the fact Mr. Rowland “never learned to find alternative ways of earning a living other than through political influence."
Mr. Rowland may or may not be arrogant, an attribute usually associated with politicians; what is the difference, for example, between arrogance and self-assurance, and is it possible for politicians who lack self-assurance to be effective in office?
It is undoubtedly true that Mr. Rowland was inept in earning a living when he was a politician. Other politicians are far smoother in the gentle art of making politics pay.
For more artful politicians, there are alternative ways of earning a living that are perfectly legal, if ethically dubious. Former Speaker of the U.S. House Nancy Pelosi regularly steered business to her husband. Here in Connecticut, 3rd District Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has shown herself a master exploiting her political influence, according to a 2011 piece in Human Events, “DeLauro Campaign Finances Raise Questions.”
“In the last four congressional election cycles,” Human Events noted three years ago, “the campaign committee for Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro, Friends of Rosa DeLauro, transferred $1.2 million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which in the same period paid $1.9 million to Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research for polling and other services, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings. Stanley B. Greenberg, founding partner of GQRR, is DeLauro’s husband of 33 years.”
Mrs. DeLauro’s seat in Congress, surrounded by a moat of media good will, is well-nigh impregnable. And though questions were raised outside the state, here in Connecticut the usual ethical watchdogs did not rend the air with howls of protests as Mrs. DeLauro moved money effortlessly from campaign donations to the Democratic Campaign Committee, which gratefully provided alternative means to her wealthy husband. According to the three year old Human Events story, the DeLauro’s are not living from hand to mouth. Mrs. DeLauro falls in the top 10 percent of the wealthiest members of Congress. Her digs in Washington D.C. are suitably plush and spacious enough to entertain lavishly government officials, potential donors and down on their luck political operatives such as Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s political godfather, for whom Mrs. DeLauro once provided room and board. U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal is also in the top ten.
Mrs. DeLauro is one of seven members of Connecticut’s U.S. Congressional Delegation, all Democrats. The last time her seat was held by a Republican was in 1983. Only the 1st Congressional District, U.S. Representative John Larson’s bailiwick, is considered more Democratic. Among active registered voters in 2012, there were in Mrs. DeLauro’s District 145,529 Democrats, 65,324 Republicans and 178,593 Unaffiliateds, a margin so comfortable that even a political reprobate like Mr. Rowland might be able to defend the district against all challengers – provided he were a Democrat. It is the virtual certainty of reelection in the 5th that has freed Mrs. DeLauro to be Mrs. DeLauro.
Which is what? The answer to this question depends upon one’s political point of view. To put the matter briefly, the fabulously wealthy Mrs. DeLauro is perhaps the most progressive Congresswoman in the state’s delegation. In Districts more open to challenge – say, the 4th or 5th – Democratic politicians tend to be more cautious. Mrs. DeLauro can well afford to throw caution to the wind.
Her great wealth, the political makeup of her district and a disinclination among Connecticut’s media to scrutinize closely her foreign and domestic policy voting record, all combine to teflonize Mrs. DeLauro. The more impregnable she becomes, the less critical Connecticut’s media becomes with respect -- just to pick one example out of a hat – to Mrs. DeLauro’s foreign policy prescriptions. Indeed, foreign policy is not even listed among areas of concern under the “issues” section on Mrs. DeLauro’s official congressional site, very likely because she has shown little concern for a foreign policy engineered by President Barack Obama that strikes many of her center and right of center constituents as dangerously incomprehensible.