The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Barbara Boxer’s Bad Week, Part Three of Five


In a way, you could say that California senator Barbara Boxer isn’t a hypocrite on spending: As a lawmaker, she spends considerably more than the country can afford, and in her past personal life, she spent considerably more than she could afford.

Millions of Americans have bounced a check or two; a paycheck gets deposited late, a written check gets cashed earlier than expected, or an emergency expense arises, and what’s going out is more than what’s coming in. These things happen. But across the political spectrum,, voters would agree that a habit of bouncing checks suggests a problem with a candidate’s sense of personal and fiscal responsibility.

Back in early 1992, Washington was rocked by the revelation that the House of Representatives was allowing members to overdraw their House checking accounts without penalty, leaving debts unpaid for months at a time. Then-congresswoman Barbara Boxer insisted for months that she’d had no problems with her account at the House bank. Then she admitted she had bounced 87 checks and did not know the amount. Bank records ultimately showed she bounced 143 checks worth $41,417. Boxer insisted she had no idea that she had bounced checks and only learned of the matter when she read about it in the press; but the Los Angeles Times obtained a letter from the House sergeant-at-arms, dated six months earlier, telling Boxer she had written overdrafts.

In all, 296 sitting representatives and 59 former members had bounced checks in the preceding three years; Boxer ranked among the 24 worst.

All of this occurred as she was preparing her first campaign for Senate; she decided to attempt to defuse the matter with humor, joking that if she did not win her party’s Senate nomination, she would form a new self-help group: “Born Again Bookkeepers.”

Yuk, yuk, yuk.

Clearly, she never became a born-again bookkeeper; when Barbara Boxer entered the U.S. Senate, the national debt was a little over $4 trillion. Today, it is $13.4 trillion.

Why bring up these old matters? To ensure Californians know what they may return to Washington for another six years. In her long political career, we’ve seen Boxer appear to buy endorsements, jet-set around the world to exotic resorts for “official business,” and bounce checks, and there will be two more examples of embarrassing behavior to come later this week. She has yet to suffer a serious consequence for any of this.

You don’t have to be a conservative Republican to conclude that California deserves better.

Tags: Barbara Boxer


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