Last month, following Charlie Bass' victory in the New Hampshire Republican primary, I wrote that, while in the House, Bass "liked to talk about his commitment to the environment, highlighting his pellet stove." What we didn't know until today is that bolstering his faux moderate image was not the only angle he was working there, as a Nashua Telegraph story by Kevin Landrigan reveals.
Instead, Bass at a minimum used his office to benefit members of his family, and appears to have personally profited as well.
In 2005, Bass wrote and worked hard to pass legislation providing rebates on alternative energy systems, including pellet stoves, but the rebates weren't funded in the Bush budget. In March, 2006, Bass set up a meeting between Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman and Steven Walker, the president of New England Wood Pellet, to discuss the prospects for funding the rebate. Walker happens to be married to Bass' niece, and the rebate was "ideally suited" (PDF) to benefit his company.
Bass not only denies having set up a meeting between his family member and Secretary Bodman, he denies ever having discussed biomass -- which, bear in mind, he legislated rebates to support -- with Secretary Bodman. (He didn't do it! He was dead at the time!) But at the time of the meeting, New England Wood Pellet publicly credited him with setting it up. And Bass does remember being with Bodman on the day in question. It's just that one meeting that makes him look bad that he doesn't recall.
Meanwhile, if his financial disclosure forms are to be believed, in January and November 2006, Bass bought between $500,000 and $1,000,000 worth of privately held stock in New England Wood Pellet -- stock now worth between $1 and $5 million. Then, shortly after leaving office, he joined the company's board of directors.
Bass now insists he bought the stock in November 2006 and January 2007, after he had been defeated by Paul Hodes. He claims he just made a mistake on his disclosure forms (lot of that going around among New Hampshire Republicans). We'll see whether he can produce the paperwork to prove that. And let's say he can. That just means he waited until he left Congress to collect his reward.
This is the kind of influence-peddling, nepotism, and evasion of responsibility we can expect from Bass should he be returned to Congress; or, as Dean Barker writes, "exhibit A on the sleazy nature of revolving door Washington politics."
Meanwhile, Annie Kuster is showing real momentum -- both the New York Times and Real Clear Politics moved the race from lean Republican to toss-up yesterday on the heels of the poll from The Hill putting Bass up by just three points. But she needs our help to counter the independent expenditure ads targeting her. Please give $10 to make sure Charlie Bass doesn't get any more chances to profit off elected office.