Josh Barro, politics editor for Business Insider, wrote an article yesterday with this headline:
Implosion Of Virginia Governor Shows Why We Need To Pay Elected Officials MoreThe Virginia governor he's talking about: Bob McDonnell. Barro tells us about him right off the bat:
Alex Burns of Politico expresses incredulity that McDonnell has apparently tossed away his presidential ambitions by accepting gifts like a Rolex watch—and a $120,000 payment that may or may not have been a loan—from one of his top donors.That really doesn't give us the whole story: McDonnell is being investigated by both Virginia law enforcement agencies and the FBI on allegations of very serious wrongdoing:
The money to the corporation and Maureen McDonnell brings to $145,000 the amount Williams gave to assist the McDonnell family in 2011 and 2012 — funds that are now at the center of federal and state investigations.
Williams, the chief executive of dietary supplement manufacturer Star Scientific Inc., also provided a $10,000 check in December as a present to McDonnell’s eldest daughter, Jeanine, intended to help defray costs at her May 2013 wedding, the people said.
Virginia’s first family already is under intense scrutiny for accepting $15,000 from the same chief executive to pay for the catering at the June 2011 wedding of Cailin McDonnell at the Executive Mansion.
All the payments came as McDonnell and his wife took steps to promote the donor’s company and its products.What's Josh Barro's response to this?
Politicians are human. They want sex and money and power like anybody else. They make crass and boneheaded errors in pursuit of them like anybody else.
But at least on the money dimension, we have a way to reduce the likelihood that elected officials will err: Pay them more. The Governor of Virginia makes $175,000 a year, and that is, in some sense, a lot of money. It’s about three times the median household income in the state. It’s plenty of money to live a nice lifestyle on.
But it’s not nearly enough money to match the lifestyle of the sort of people you become surrounded by when you are a powerful political leader. And while some people have the ability to make peace with that (Pope Francis comes to mind), many don’t.There is a really lot of bad reporting and writing on politics in the U.S. (and the world) these days, so it's easy to write another plop on the pile like this off. But this is really in a league of its own.
• A powerful elected official is being investigated for what looks like taking bribes.
• Political reporter Josh Barro's response: If only we gave the guy taking bribes more money in the first place—he wouldn't have taken the bribes!
I'm finding it hard to follow that. Honestly. A prominent political reporter responds to allegations of bribery by an elected public official not by focusing on that possible crime against the public—but by saying the public should give elected officials more money.
The only thing I can honestly right this second come up with for a finish: What the fuck is wrong with us?
Update: Virginia's governor is 4th highest paid governor in nation.
Image of Josh Barro from here.