Friday, May 19, 2006

Ken Calvert: Smoke, but No Fire

Looks like the LATimes story (registration required) that suggested that Representative Ken Calvert improperly used the appropriations process to enhance the value of land he owned, may have been incorrect. Calvert's hometown paper - the Press Enterprise (registration required) - says the LATimes made a mistake:

False alarm
Thursday, May 18, 2006

The public should remain vigilant in fighting political corruption. But trumping up flimsy charges against Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, poorly serves the search for real Congressional malfeasence.

Calvert, who ran a real estate business before entering Congress, sold 4.3 acres of land in January along Cajalco Road near Interstate 215 for $965,000. Considering Calvert bought the land one year earlier for nearly half that price, he enjoyed a fine profit. Something about that looked crooked to Lake Mathews community activist Art Cassel.

Cassel complained at a March Joint Powers Commission meeting in April that Calvert's sale presented a conflict of interest because the congressman secured $8 million in federal funding in July 2005 for an interchange at Cajalco Road and the 215.

Only, Calvert didn't do that.

Calvert helped procure funding for an interchange at Cajalco Road and Interstate 15 -- 16 miles away from his property. And the LA-based watchdog group Center for Governmental Studies noted this week that Calvert's profit matched the rise in market value of the area. That sounds reasonable enough.

The nature of Calvert's private-sector business will often present the potential of a conflict of interest, so the congressman should be careful to avoid it.

Sadly, voters see enough real shady business going on in Congress. Sounding false alarms of corruption only breeds more cynicism about government.

The Press Enterprise clarification does not cover the broad charge made in the LATimes piece. The Times says rather vaguely:

A map of Calvert's recent real estate holdings and those of his partner shows many of them near the transportation projects he has supported with federal appropriations. And improvements to the transportation infrastructure have contributed to the area's explosive growth, according to development experts.

However, the Times has been known to be wrong.

Back to the top.


1whoknows said...

Before you can draw the conclusions you have, you should have noticed two major differences between the LA Times story and the PE story. The Times had three reporters verifying facts for three weeks prior to publication. The PE had one reporter who made two phone calls the morning the charges were levied. The only reason the PE ran the story was because they knew the LA Times was working on it and they still got scooped. The PE had to publish a correction to the story after publishing it. The editorial also took considerable liberties in paraphrasing what was said in one of the two phone calls that were made.

Making excuses for questionable acts by any member of Government doesn't wash. I can only hope you are consistent enough to run to Jefferson's aid and condemn the FBI for raiding Congress. I'm sorry, but I have no problem with that either. As for Calvert, he has already reached a pinnicle of hypocracy when he condemned Clinton for doing what he got caught doing on a Corona street. His lame excuse was that he wasn't under oath when he lied about it. Hmmm! It's OK to lie to your constituents.

The Editor at IP said...

Thanks for your comment. I would definitely agree on equal treatment of Members of Congress on ethics. If you check out what I've written on Jefferson, you will see that I defended him until I saw reports on the full extent of the charges and the evidence which reportedly backs it up. I have no problem with the FBI search; as far as I can tell, it raises no separation of powers issues.

On Calvert, I'm not particularly a fan. But you seem to be alluding to other reports in the Press Enterprise that I have not seen. Feel free to post links; I'd be interested to see the latest.

1whoknows said...

This the original report from the Press Enterprise.

There is a big difference between Bob Sterns qualified statement in the article and the clean bill of health paraphrase in the editorial. The depressed area the property is in, and it's appearance with Port-A-Potty storage on the property behind it also play a role in the property value. There are more facets to this property and Calverts other holdings that have not seen daylight yet.

Wouldn't it be nice to have ethical government?

The Editor at IP said...

Thanks for sending along the link. As I noted in my original story, even the PE editorial does not respond to all the charges in the LATimes piece.

I can't respond to things that 'have not seen daylight yet,' but I will be following this, and post additional news when I find it.

Thanks again,