New Boss at Interior Funneled Corporate Contributions

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It can be no surprise that President Bush has selected someone wtih an incredibly dismal environmental record to head up the Department of Interior. But it appears that he’s gone one step further and found someone who will follow through on Gale Norton’s legacy of overseeing a department that was rife with muck.

Norton’s Interior was Jack Abramoff’s personal playground. Now, Kempthorne doesn’t have any ties to Abramoff as far as I can tell (and you never know), but he does know how to creatively entertain a special interest or two.

Somehow missed in all the news reporting about Kempthorne’s career as governor of Idaho was a scandal there back in 2003 over his use of corporate campaign contributions for extra perks. Here’s how it went: there was a loophole in Idaho law that allowed donors to exceed the contribution limit by donating to Kempthorne’s “office account.” It was supposed to be for general expenses. But eight corporations all chipped in and, beyond the $5,000 each had already paid to his campaign, paid him a total of $23,000 for this special “office account.”

But this didn’t go to staplers, paper clips and water coolers, no. He used the money for “restaurant meals, travel, National Governors Association activities, flowers, books and a haircut.” And at least one of those donors, Qwest, got a lot of help from Kempthorne on a key piece of legislation that year.

After an uproar in the Idaho press and legislature, the Idaho Attorney General moved to pass a law that closed the loophole.

And it seems that Kempthorne really suffered for it. Last year, he bounced a $111 check paying for a…haircut.

Hmm…I wonder who it will be covering Kempthorne’s haircut now that he’s at Interior?