Ethically Challenged Ed Perlmutter?

Hats off to the Washington Times for the scoop on what my representative in Congress has been up to:

Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Colorado inserted a provision into the recently passed House climate change bill that would drum up business for “green” banks, such as the one he has invested in and his family and a political donor helped found in San Francisco.

The bill calls on bank regulators to promote green banking and says federal dollars should be used to support energy-efficient home improvements at government-funded housing projects.

Mr. Perlmutter, a two-term Democrat, has two investments in the 3-year-old New Resource Bank, which calls itself the nation’s first green bank. Among other environmentally conscious banking products, the bank offers home equity loans for consumers to make their homes more energy efficient, in addition to construction loans for green builders….

According to financial disclosure forms, Mr. Perlmutter holds shares in New Resource Bank valued between $15,001 and $50,000 through a trust for his children. His stake in a separate investment partnership totals between $1,001 and $15,000.

Perlmutter’s ex-wife was also listed as receiving an undisclosed salary from New Resource Bank.

The Denver Post‘s David Harsanyi makes an essential point that just-because something is “green” doesn’t exempt it from a deserved stigma when ethics and greed are involved.

Harsanyi then notes that even if you disagree with his own opposition to the cap-and-tax legislation, Perlmutter’s good intentions behind inserting the provision in the amendment don’t get him off the hook:

But having your heart in the right place is no excuse for an elected official to slip a provision in an amendment — 300 pages attached in the middle of the night — that benefits them financially. Even if legal, the perception it creates is terrible.

Not so bad for his own soul as an act of moral turpitude, but (along with many other members of Congress) Perlmutter’s unflinching devotion to government largesse was bound to bite him even harder when he actually stood to gain financially from that largesse.

A shameful black mark on the 7th District Congressman’s political career? A legitimate arrow in the quiver for political opponents? Yes and yes. By itself enough to mark the ignominious end to that career? I wish, but hardly.

I share Mr. Bob’s justified anger over this incident. It does mark a certain sort of corruption. To me the incident more effectively speaks to the easy culture of corruption in Congress — the Democrats are at least as bad as their Republican predecessors, and that says a lot — than to a specific opportunity to unseat Perlmutter in 2010.

A lot will have to happen before a credible GOP challenge can be mounted against Perlmutter. Seeing the local establishment media follow up on the story would be a nice first step.

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