Pressure Grows For Kerry to Resign From Senate; Has Only Mad
Kerry, Senate Secretary Facing Ethics Complaint
By Jeff Gannon
June 17, 2004WASHINGTON (Talon News) -- Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) met with Secretary of the Senate Emily Reynolds Wednesday to discuss ethics complaints stemming from his prolonged absence from the legislative body while he campaigns for president. Kerry and Reynolds were spotted by Congressional staffers slipping into one of the many antechambers of the Capitol where the pair likely reviewed options for dealing with the complaints filed against both of them.A complaint filed by Hofstra law student Jonathan Stein accuses Reynolds of willfully violating a federal statute that requires her to make deductions from Kerry's Senate paycheck for his absences. Kerry is also named in the complaint for knowingly accepting salary to which he is not entitled.The issue was first raised in a March 2004 letter to Reynolds from American Conservative Union Chairman David Keene who requested that she enforce the statute concerning Kerry's salary. Reynolds responded to Keene's letter, refusing to enforce the statute because her predecessors had not done so in other cases.Stein points out in his complaint that the failures of others who previously held Reynolds' position could not establish precedent since the statute clearly says that the Secretary of the Senate "shall" make the appropriate deductions. Stein contends that the language used in the rule is unequivocal and mandatory, allowing no instance for exception or discretion.Stein also believes that Sen. Kerry, who holds a license to practice law, should be "held to a higher standard of legal conduct than the ordinary citizen, as it is [his] job and role to know, interpret, and promulgate the law."Stein suggests that the Ethics Committee direct Kerry to return funds he was overpaid and decline to accept future illegal payments from the federal treasury.Stein told Talon News that Robert Walker, Chief Counsel for the Senate Select Committee on Ethics, confirmed receipt of his letter of complaint. He also said that Walker did not indicate if or when the committee might take up the matter.The Hofstra law student told Talon News that he decided to file the complaint in the interest of "preserving the rule of law."Having recently completed coursework on constitutional law, he says that he is exercising his First Amendment right to "petition the Government for a redress of grievances."Stein says that the law in this matter is "absolutely clear" and lawmakers cannot consider themselves above it.Kerry has voted only 14 times out of the Senate's 112 votes this year, a record Stein says is "egregious."Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, who recently called on Kerry to resign his seat, citing his dismal attendance record, shares that opinion.She said, "If any of us attended our job only 13 percent of the time, we'd be fired."Healey went on to say, "It's not fair, it's not right, and the public is not being well served.""I'm calling on John Kerry to resign so that we can fill that office with someone who is 100 percent devoted to the job of representing the people of Massachusetts," Healey added.