Someone made an oopsie.
Oh, Judd Gregg. Maybe it is a good thing you turned down that Commerce Secretary post on the grounds of “irresolvable conflicts” in early February. (In reality, it is because the position is now cursed — much like the Defense Against Dark Arts post. Yes, I did just make a Harry Potter reference.) It’s a good thing, Senator Gregg (R-NH), because you definitely have a little conflict-of-interest mess on your hands now.
Senator Gregg invested hundreds of thousands of dollars into the Pease International Tradeport (formerly Pease Air Force Base) and procured nearly $66 million in federal aid. Problem? Gregg invested in his brother’s office projects at the Tradeport has made anywhere from $240,000 to $650,000 in returns. Under Senate ethics rules, Gregg had to justify that the aid would not benefit himself or immediate family. While it is highly unlikely Gregg will be slapped on the wrist for anything — the Senate’s definition of conflict of interest is narrow — it still does have that shady appearance.
“He increased the value of property, which caused his own investment to increase in value,” she said. “So, it appears that he earmarked and then financially benefited from his own earmark.” Sloan [of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics] noted that Gregg secured earmarks for Pease beyond those sought for the National Guard and city. (Associated Press, for full article with expenditure details)
Most government officials are guilty of slipping in those wily earmarks into bills, true, but I am still glad Gregg isn’t our Commerce Secretary. I found him to be a bit of the drama queen, insisting his replacement had to be a Republican. Governor Lynch even agreed. New Hampshire’s governor is a Democrat, and the rest of the federal delegation (Reps. Paul Hode and Carol Shea-Porter, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen) are also Democrats. For me, that decision didn’t make much sense. In addition, it baffles me that Gregg even considered the Secretary position, after once hoping to abolish that very department — funny that. Plus, there’s no doubt that this issue would have been brought up had Gregg accepted the position in the Obama Administration. There’s no need for Obama to get more flack on a Secretary pick, especially on such an obstinate Republican one.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs put it nicer terms, “Once it became clear after his nomination that Senator Gregg was not going to be supporting some of President Obama’s key economic priorities, it became necessary for Senator Gregg and the Obama administration to part ways.”
See you later, Senator Gregg.