it’s another thing to lose your honor. So said Fred Thompson in his 1994 debate with Jim Cooper. James Webb, Democratic candidate for the Senate in Virginia, is likely to lose an election, and his campaign for Senate in Virginia is one of the least honorable efforts we’ve seen in these parts for many years. The Washington Times blows the whistle on the latest example — an error-strewn ad alleging financial misconduct by Sen. George Allen. Webb’s ad contends that Allen “tried to steer government contracts to a company that paid him in stock options,” that Allen “hid those options for years,” and that the options are worth $1.1 million.
The Times argues that none of this is true. First, no steering occurred. Webb apparently is referring to a letter Allen once wrote asking the Army to hurry up and make a decision regarding a business on whose board Allen had served as a private citizen. The Army did not award the contract to that firm.
Nor, according to the Times, did Allen hide the stock options given to him by another company on whose board he also sat as a private citizen. He disclosed them in 2001, but stopped doing so after some of them became worthless. When Allen realized this might have been an error, he asked the Senate Ethics Committee for advice.
Nor are the options worth $1.1 million. Apparently they were worth that much at some point in 2000 but, as noted, Allen disclosed them in 2001. Their value has plummeted since, says the Times.
JOHN adds: I looked at this “issue” last weekend, but didn’t do a post since it didn’t seem to be going anywhere. Based on my review, the Senate ethics rules are ambiguous. A Senator is only required to report ownership of publicly traded stocks and bonds that exceed $1,000 in value. During the years when Allen didn’t put these stock options on his report, they were worth less than $1,000, as I understand the facts. So it would be a reasonable interpretation of the rules to conclude that they didn’t need to be reported. The rules also might be interpreted to require reporting of stock options even if they have zero value. This reading of the rules, if correct, would seem to be nonsensical. In any event, Webb’s charge–that Allen failed to report an asset that had no value–is ridiculous.
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