Why go through the burdensome process of a Freedom of Information Act request when you can just hack your way into sensitive government material?!? According to AP, a report on preliminary inquiries by the House Ethics Committee was stolen from a junior employee’s computer via exploitation of a connection to a P2P file sharing network.
The report included the cases of Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. Laura Richardson. Rep. Waters’ case was already public. She allegedly used her position to help a smaller bank, OneUnited, which her husband is involved with, gain access to Treasury officials and thus TARP funds. OneUnited still had to go through the application process, and was required by Treasury to raise $20M of equity capital in order to qualify for $12M of TARP funds. That may sound like an unseemly use of access and privilege, especially to those who detest Rep. Waters’ politics, but let’s be fair – a small African-American owned bank is far less likely to have a hotline to the Treasury or the Fed than a large investment or money center bank. Rep. Waters acted as that conduit — which is sort of the idea in a representative democracy, isn’t it? In our view, it would only demonstrate poor ethics if other small banks in her district, that she or her husband were not stakeholders in, requested similar efforts from her and were refused.
The Richardson case sounds a lot like Sen. Dodd’s personal mortgage dealings with Countrywide, which is a bigger lapse in our view, as she would have been the primary beneficiary of her actions.
Not surprisingly, the largest number of inquiries have to do with defense spending.
A fun question for voters to reflect on: Apart from obvious concerns over more sensitive government data, was this hack a good thing or a bad thing? Was it a heroic act, a criminal act, or a little of both?
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