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Congressman Eric Cantor, R-Unethical | The Nation

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John Nichols

John Nichols

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Congressman Eric Cantor, R-Unethical

Virginia Congressman Eric Cantor has taken a lead in Republican attacks on expanding role of the federal government.

But there are some expansions of government that do not bother the conservative stalwart.

For instance, Cantor does not appear to have any problem with the government funding his political projects.

Earlier this year, with as much fanfare as a beaten party can muster, congressional Republicans launched an initiative to "rebrand" their party as something voters might actually find appealing.

Cantor and his compatriots called their project the National Council for a New America.

And, while it has yet to come up with anything "new" in the way of policy or vision, the Republican political initiative is up and running -- thanks to the federal government.

The council is being run out of Cantor's congressional office, and the anti-corruption group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is asking why.

This week, CREW filed a complaint with the House Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against Cantor and requesting an investigation into the National Council for a New America.

CREW's complaint: The Republican council ought not be run out of Cantor's congressional office when it has an exclusively political purpose.

"Applying the old adage: if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it probably is a duck, NCNA looks political and Representative Cantor and the group's other members talk about it in political terms so it must be a political organization," explained CREW executive director Melanie Sloan. "The real reason Representative Cantor is disingenuously claiming the group is a policy organization is to leave American taxpayers footing NCNA's bills. The Office of Congressional Ethics should make it perfectly clear: lawmakers are free to create political organizations, but they can't use our money to pay for them."

Here's CREW complaint regarding Congressman Eric Cantor, R-Unethical.

Hard-core partisans may try to defend Cantor's wrongdoing with the old Washington-insider claim that CREW is only attacking the congressman because he is a Republican.

Unfortunately for this "defense," CREW's other big project of the moment is lawsuit seeking records of visits by top healthcare executives to the White House -- the point of which is to determine "the extent to which these industry players may have influenced the administration's healthcare policy."

The bottom line: CREW really is nonpartisan.

Cantor, on the other hand, is not just partisan.

The congressman -- who rants and raves so regularly about fiscal responsibility -- appears to be raiding the federal treasury in order to fund his partisanship.

The Office of Congressional Ethics needs to open an investigation of Cantor's machinations.

And the congressman's constituents need to ask why, at a time when Cantor says the federal government does not have the money to pay for healthcare and education, it seems to have more than enough money to pay for the congressman's politicking.

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