Bill Sali, the gift that just keeps on giving.

First, despite repeated efforts, he just can't get the hang of FEC reports, and it's not just the Idaho bloggers having fun with it. Now Comedy Central has joined in, describing Sali's difficulty with that "Strange Magic Typewriter" that is causing so much confusion.

Sali's office has apparently had financial disclosure problems since for a while now. Since at least 2005. But, you know, they always have really good excuses...

   * Couldn't figure out how to make the smiley face with the parenthesis

   * Tried to upload FEC report through Facebook, but it was down

   * Office network was inflicted by some sort of porn spam/virus

   * Dog was home sick and spilled coffee on the hard drive

   * Madden '09 just released

Add to Sali's inability to just make that damned computer work the little issue that arose today. Turns out that neither his campaign NOR his congressional district office are in the district he, you know, represents.

But it gets even better. This weekend, the Idaho Press Tribune editorialized the myriad ways in which Sali's whole operation is a bit of a trainweck, honing in particularly on the fact that the "mastermind" behind Bill Sali, his campaign spokesman, also happens to be his congressional spokesman.

The dual employ of Hoffman as an official spokesman for Sali’s congressional office and as his campaign spokesman is unusual and inappropriate.

Hoffman says he can keep his jobs separate by using different phones and stepping out of the congressman’s office to deal with campaign-related calls.

It’s a shell game. The truth is, if he’s handling campaign matters, he’s not available at that time to answer questions in his official capacity as a spokesman for the office. Sali’s decision to let Hoffman wear two hats essentially means that taxpayers pay for his campaign press secretary and he doesn’t have to cover another salary out of his campaign coffers.

These issues raise questions about the management of the congressman’s office, his decision-making ability and even his ethics. In order to have Idahoans’ trust, he needs to get his operation in order.

To which Hoffman replied:

"They took the entire matter out of context in my mind, and I worked for the Press-Tribune for four years," he said. "It borders on libel."

I don't think that word "libel" means what Hoffman thinks it means. Neither does the Idaho Press Tribune, one of the state's most staunchly conservative papers. They're so worked up about it, they decided to do something drastic:

We've wanted to start up an editors' blog for quite some time, but it's always been pushed to the back burner. Not any more. This is our official launch, and you can thank Wayne Hoffman for that.

When you've got pundits and bloggers, locally and nationally, bantering about your paper, and you've got a seasoned public relations person who cries "libel," it's time to speak up.

I suspect we're going to be seeing quite a bit more scrutiny of Sali in at least one Idaho paper now. Maybe there can also be a bit of scrutiny fro the House ethics committee, because it seems like Sali and Hoffman don't have too solid a grasp on that whole ethics rule the Congress has about congressional employees conducting campaign business. Not that the "rules" mean anything to Sali and Hoffman. But at least they're good for a joke or two this election season. It's just too bad Idaho has to be stuck with them.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Thu Aug 14, 2008 at 01:05 PM PDT.

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