From today’s Boston Globe:
Sean Bielat, whose spirited challenge to US Representative Barney Frank last year drew national attention, paid himself $10,000 in salary drawn from his campaign account, but waited to disclose the move until after the November election. […]
In an interview this week, Bielat acknowledged that he held off taking the salary until the final weeks of the race to avoid sparking a debate that would deflect attention from campaign issues. As a candidate, he had promised a transparent office. […]
Bielat made the payments to himself on Oct. 15, two days after the final preelection reporting deadline.
That meant the payments were not disclosed until late November.
In addition to the $10,000, the Brookline Republican’s campaign lists another $14,300 in debt owed to him. […]
Bielat, who said he has not ruled out another run for Congress after giving Frank his sharpest challenge since 1982, sharply rejected the notion that he had deceived voters by intentionally hiding the salary until after the election or by listing a second payment he intended to give himself as debt, instead of as a salary.
“I did not cover it up,” Bielat said. “Your zeroing in on this now is indicative of why I wanted to avoid any salary. But it got to the point in the campaign when we had to have some income.” […]
But in the months leading up to the election, Bielat was sharply critical of Frank for a lack of transparency and promised to be more open.
In a September press release, he accused Frank of not revealing certain campaign contributions. “It’s yet another example of Barney Frank skirting the spirit of the law intended to increase transparency and accountability,” Bielat said in a statement.
I personally support the measure that allows candidates to reasonably pay themselves a salary if they are not wealthy and have to give up working in order to campaign. That measure enhances democracy.
But the measure only works when it is transparent. Perhaps an additional requirement should be added requiring 24-hour disclosures when candidates pay themselves salaries.
What’s hilarious if you’re someone who likes to harp on frequent Republican hypocrisy is that Sean Bielat, who predicated many of his criticisms of Barney Frank on issues of transparency and openness, absolutely denied the voters transparency and openness in this situation.
He claims in the article that he didn’t want his salary to be a “distraction” but we all know what a joke that is. Voters decide for themselves what they feel is important – that’s kind of one of the whole points of having transparency.
Frankly, I don’t think his salary would have been much a distraction. However, now that Bielat has demonstrated a high willingness to lie to the voters and hide information and cover things up and act very hypocritically, he may have well crippled any future campaign because of his unethical and hypocritical action of not disclosing what he did with his campaign funds.