Doc Hastings, the laconic Republican congressman from Pasco, has spent much of the past three days trying to avoid being sucked into the vortex of ethics complaints swirling around House Majority leader Tom DeLay of Texas.
News reports earlier this week linked Hastings to GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is under investigation for his lobbying on behalf of Indian tribes and is a key figure in the DeLay ethics dispute. The reports also tied Hastings to Seattle’s largest law and lobbying firm, Preston Gates Ellis, where Abramoff used to work.
Apart from the Times’ surprising use of the SAT word “laconic” in the lead sentence, should anyone be particularly shocked by this news? There’s a reason why DeLay named Hastings — possibly the nation’s least accomplished five-term congressman — to chair the Ethics Committee… he’s a DeLay toady, cynically installed to impede the committee’s investigations of his boss. And thus it should be no surprise to find Hastings linked to some of the same shady characters at the center of DeLay’s ever-expanding ethical scandals.
Abramoff has strong ties to the Pacific Northwest, including every right-wing Evangelical Christian’s favorite Rabbi, Mercer Island’s own Daniel Lapin. As chair of the House Ethics Committe, it’s only fair that the typically low-profile Hastings be subjected to extra scrutiny himself. I’m guessing that after a little more digging into his own finances, he’ll probably wish he had remained laconic.