It's no surprise that some Louisiana leaders want oil drilling to resume in the Gulf of Mexico, even as the Gulf continues to be poisoned by the BP oil gusher. But this story by the Associated Press takes it to another level:
A multimillionaire House Republican who owns thousands of shares of BP stock has no plans to recuse himself from a congressional investigation related to the Gulf oil spill or from votes on Capitol Hill that could affect his investments in the oil company.
He's Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. His BP stock value has dropped from more than a quarter million dollars to less than half that. Apparently, he wants to use his office to protect what remains. Apparently, he doesn't care about the obvious conflict of interest. Apparently, he's perfectly comfortable using elective office for unenlightened self-interest.
The No. 2 Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a former chairman, Sensenbrenner has kept a low profile on the issue, but now he's coming out swinging: He has written a letter to President Barack Obama questioning BP's actions and the adequacy of the White House response — but refrains from directly criticizing BP for the spill.
Sensenbrenner also has complained about the government's criminal investigation into the circumstances of the oil spill. He said the Justice Department should have identified specific companies it might be targeting for its investigation and that threatening to prosecute BP in court could prevent the company from cooperating fully with Washington.
Sure. He's worried that the DOJ investigation will prevent BP from cooperating. Because we all know that BP is nothing if not cooperative.
Sensenbrenner is not legally required to recuse himself. Which makes the case that such a requirement should be written into law. But Sensenbrenner's unwillingness to recuse himself shows what he's really all about. Which is not the public good. He is about James Sensenbrenner. Which makes him a terrible public official, and a very good Republican.