Prosecute the torture.

February 23, 2006

More on Santorum - the Ethics Complaint

From Will Bunch in Philly:
The flap over Sen. Rick Santorum's unorthodox $500,000 mortgage for his family home in Leesburg, Va., took another twist yesterday when a leading watchdog group filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee - charging that the loan from a private bank was an illegal gift because Santorum did not meet its stated guidelines.

The complaint by the Committee for Responsible Ethics in Washington, or CREW, alleges that the mortgage from Philadelphia Trust Co. is a gift in violation of Senate Rule 35, which says that senators can receive loans or other banking services only on terms "generally available to the public."
And here's press release from CREW and the pdf file of the complaint itself.

James O'Toole (and we don't know him well enough to call him "Jim") has a story on it in today's P-G. He quotes Tricky Rick with this:
"One of the things about Mike is, in the years I've known him, he's never lobbied me for anything, never asked me for anything, never did anything that was related to my professional capacity."
Notice the room for political wiggles. Lil Ricky is talking about Mike here when he says, "He's never lobbied...asked for...did anything..." and so on. It leaves open whether any of his friend Mike's business associates ever lobbied, asked for or did anything, doesn't it?

O'Toole does say this a little later on:
The articles in the Daily News and the American Prospect, reported by Will Bunch, noted that officers of the Philadelphia firm had contributed to Mr. Santorum's campaign, but they also noted that there is no evidence that Mr. Santorum, who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, had taken any official actions to benefit the firm.
They donated about $24,000 to the campaign. But it's naive to think that while there's no evidence that Lil Ricky took any official actions to benefit the firm, he did nothing to benefit the banking industry as a whole. I mean what's the alternative? In this Senate with this party in control, Rick Santorum did nothing to benefit the banking industry? And whatever benefits the banking industry as a whole would inevitably "trickle down" to individual banking concerns, right? Everyone takes care of everyone else, but in a way that no one's hands are dirty.

Anyway, some details from O'Toole's piece (sorry for the inadvertant pun - it would have been worse of Santorum's first name was Dick):
[Santorum's] campaign spokesman said that the interest-only loan was made in 2002 at a "market-driven rate," 5 percent annually over its five-year term, at the end of which it will have to be repaid or refinanced.
I'm not a banker, but doesn't this mean that Rick only has to pay 5% of $500,000 per year (or about $25K) for each year between 2002 and 2007? Then all he has to do is to find a way to pay back the half mil in November 2007, when he's either 10 months out of the Senate making beaucoup bucks on the Conservative speech-making circuit or still in the Senate, still on the Senate Finance Committee where refinancing the loan would be easy as pie.

And his campaign is insisting that anyone can get a deal like this?

By the way here's Rule 35. It goes something like this:
1. (a)(1) No Member, officer, or employee of the Senate shall knowingly accept a gift except as provided in this rule.
...
(c) The restrictions in subparagraph (a) shall not apply to the following:
...
(19) Opportunities and benefits which are
...
(E) in the form of loans from banks and other financial institutions on terms generally available to the public
So if the loan isn't generally available to the public, then Santorum can't accept it because it's a gift.

Can someone tell me how *I* can get a loan like this? (Other than me turning into a powerful republican Senator on the Senate Finance Committee, of course)

Rick Santorum - a true man of the people. Living in a half-million dollar house for only a little more than about two grand per month.

IMPEACH

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