The Allen camp asked for a formal ruling by the Senate Ethics Committee and on Feb. 16, it came. In a letter to Allen, signed by committee chairman Barbara Boxer, California Democrat and committee vice chair John Cornyn, Texas Republican, Allen was exonerated of any wrongdoing: "The committee has determined that your ownership of CBI stock options did not constitute deferred compensation during the relevant reporting periods." Therefore, they said, Allen was not required to amend the reports.
Allen made his share of mistakes during his re-election campaign, but this was not one of them. His opponent and Sen. Schumer, neither of whom has apologized or retracted their accusations, unfairly smeared him.
In commenting on the Senate Ethics Committee letter and the incorrect negative ad that contributed to Allen's defeat, a Richmond Times Dispatch editorial asked a question familiar to many public figures who have been unfairly slimed, "So where does George Allen go to get his reputation back, never mind his job in the Senate?"
Where, indeed? The AP printed a story on Feb. 21 correcting the errors in its earlier story that were used in the Allen attack ad, but it came nearly four months too late.
This saga is important for a number of reasons. First, it cost a good man an important job. Second, it significantly contributed to a change in the balance of power in the Senate. Third, it again exposed an unholy alliance between liberal politicians and the leftist big media who are quick to attack someone whose policies and party they don't like, but rarely correct errors of their own making, or investigate bogus charges when they help the policies and party the media prefer.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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