March 17, 2008

Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction took "inappropriate" trip to Maine for Susan Collins. Did he tell the truth to the Senate about that visit?

by Joe Sudbay (DC) · 3/12/2008 04:55:00 PM ET · Link

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) was the Chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee under GOP control. She had oversight authority over the government and ignored the massive failures of the Bush administration from the Iraq war to Katrina.

So, it was odd that Collins brought the Special Inspector General for Iraq reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, to Maine to campaign for her. Given the mess that is Iraq, you'd think the Inspector General for Iraq reconstruction would have better things to do than campaign in Maine for Susan Collins. But, Susan puts politics first -- for herself, George Bush and John McCain.

Now it looks like the IG wasn't completely honest with the Senate about that trip:
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., on Tuesday called a government watchdog's visit to Maine in January "inappropriate."

Lautenberg questioned Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Iraq reconstruction projects, about his visit to Maine from Jan. 2 through Jan. 4.

To view his testimony, click here. [YouTube link here.]

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, accompanied Bowen to Maine. He delivered a speech at Husson College and participated in an editorial board meeting with this newspaper.

During the editorial board meeting, Bowen praised Collins' record of government oversight as chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

His comments were noticed by a State Department official, who subsequently told The Washington Post that, "This is the kind of thing we're taught not to do."

Lautenberg asked Bowen if he had consulted State Department lawyers about his visit to Maine.

Bowen said he did not, adding that he often travels to discuss his work and that he was invited by Husson College and the Portland Press Herald to appear for an editorial board meeting.

But John Porter, the newspaper's opinion editor, said Jen Burita, Collins' spokeswoman, informed him that Collins and Bowen would be in Portland and asked if the newspaper would like to meet with them.

Porter accepted the invitation.

"That's how these things always happen," Porter said, adding that Maine's congressional delegation has standing invitation to appear at an editorial board meeting.
And, the way things always happen with Susan Collins is that she will do anything to win. She has a history of playing dirty and negative campaigning.

What a coincidence that Bowen was invited to speak at Husson College, too. A quick check of the website of Senator Collins might explain why:
In December 1994, Senator Collins became the founding executive director of the Center for Family Business at Husson College in Bangor, Maine. She resigned in 1996 to run for the Senate seat being vacated by Senator Cohen.
Yes, what a coincidence.

This scandal over the Stuart Bowen campaign visit has legs. Collins didn't do any oversight of Iraq -- but she's willing to politicize Iraq reconstruction anyway. It's appalling.

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