Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Circular Face Punching Squad

Image Credit: Ken Avidor
The Amy Koch "I'm looking forward!" media tour continued Monday, with a series of short interviews in which she "takes responsibility" for somethingsomething that really doesn't matter now, anyway. But whatever that thing was, it was like a "punch in the face." But she wants to "close the book" on it.

David Hann says that "if anyone got punched in the face, it was the [Republican] caucus."  

Dave Senjem says the Koch affair is in the past, and that if the DFL wants to see the ethics of the matter examined, they can file their own complaint. Oh, and no comment about what Hann said.

The former Deputy, Geoff Michel, isn't saying anything.

DFL Chair Ken Martin says that Koch "has suffered enough" and she shouldn't face an ethics hearing. 


I don't know what's going on in Martin's head, but the central figures have not been honest and forthcoming, and there should be ethics hearings. If this episode didn't bring the Senate into disrepute, what does?

Here are Amy Koch's own words. You tell me, are these open, honest, and contrite words?
Koch - whose new Capitol office, on a separate floor from her former leadership suite, features a framed picture of her with Gingrich - said politicians have to accept that voters will judge them on their private lives. "You're in the public eye and that will happen," Koch said. "I don't know whether it's fair." 
"I don't play gender politics. I don't think it serves to kind of rehash or try to come up with a 'why.'...People have brought that to my attention. People will decide on that themselves.
She says she wrestled with the decision to leave her post. "There have been a lot of people who told me that I shouldn't have even stepped down from majority leader," Koch said. 
Koch says she's done enough. "I have given a very public apology," she said.
And that's that! 

Look, if you believe that Amy Koch has been through enough, okay. I disagree, but you can make a somewhat reasonable case that her previous apology and stepping down from leadership is sufficient.

But what of Geoff Michel, who admitted to sitting on this information for two months before he did anything about it, and misled the public about it once it was revealed? Or, if you believe Cal Ludeman when he says there's nothing about having relationships with subordinates in the ethics rules, and this is therefore an "HR issue," doesn't that seem wrong to you? If a misleading tweet from the floor is a legitimate subject for an ethics reprimand, or a staffer's dismissive email to a constituent is grounds for an ethics complaint, how can this be a lesser issue?

There are ways to pursue this that don't involve filing an ethics complaint against Senator Koch. Two spring to mind. One, file an ethics complaint about the conduct of former Deputy Geoff Michel for his two months of inaction after being informed of a clearly inappropriate relationship between supervisor and subordinate, and misleading the public about when he knew. Two, seek to amend the Senate Rules to specify that relationships between supervisors and subordinates in the Legislature are, in fact, unethical.

The circular face punching squad that is the GOP Senate Caucus clearly haven't even yet resolved these issues internally. Their desire to move on is understandable, but this story hasn't even been fully told yet and changes are needed to ensure it doesn't happen again.

Follow me on Twitter @aaronklemz

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