Debra J. Saunders

 Hefley's Web site targets "the Porker of the Week" -- and if Hefley doesn't find a porker every week, at least he is willing to target the worst projects pushed by the most profligate Republicans. In November, for example, Hefley took after the infamous $320 million earmark for Alaska's "Bridge to Nowhere."

 And this is downright quaint: Hefley raised a measly $100,000 for his last re-election campaign, and won handily.

 Under Hastert and DeLay, the GOP leadership has betrayed Republican principles. Deficit spending has been the leadership's crutch, and fund raising its addiction. It's clear DeLay and his cronies would still be living large and skirting rules if uber-lobbyist Jack Abramoff had not pleaded guilty to defrauding Indian tribal clients, conspiring to bribe members of Congress and evading taxes. If the GOP is calling for reforms, it's not because the party saw the light. It's because the leaders got caught.

 That's not why voters elect Republicans. The GOP is built on people who want less government, not record spending. They want their lawmakers to be pro-business, but also expect their representatives to feel more allegiance to their constituents than sleazy lobbyists flashing first-class plane tickets.

 Hefley spokesperson Kim Sears told me the congressman has received "some encouragement" to pursue the plum House majority leader position, but he is "not actively seeking it." As Hefley told Sears, to win leadership posts, a member has to devote years to working up the ladder -- it doesn't seem likely that a lawmaker who put his district first could become leader.

 Changing the ethics rules won't help the Republicans if they continue to choose leaders because they are the biggest fund-raisers and the best backslappers. If Republicans want to get back to their philosophical roots, they should find a leader who remembers why he went to Washington. They should choose a leader who still believes in "the integrity of the House."


Debra J. Saunders


 
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