In 1992, angry about stalemated government, soaring deficits, and economic recession, the public focused its attention on check bouncing in the House of Representatives bank as a symbol of government perks, or special privileges. For 150 years the House sergeant at arms had operated a bank in the Capitol, where members could write checks based on their deposited salaries. A General Accounting Office (GAO) investigation revealed that many representatives had written checks with insufficient funds in their accounts to cover those checks, but the bank had taken no action to suspend or penalize those who bounced checks. Extensive media coverage caused the House to abolish the bank and reveal the names of more than 300 members who had bounced checks. An unusually large number of representatives chose not to run for reelection, and several other check bouncers were defeated. The bank scandal spurred the House to establish the position of director of nonlegislative services, who would serve as a general manager of financial and other administrative activities.
Well, shocker, Senator Barbara Boxer when she was in the House of Representatives was the 24th most egregious of the miscreants.
The PBS onlineNewshour summarizes the House Banking Scandal, also known as Rubbergate: “In 1992, many House members were suspected of bouncing checks from accounts they held at the so-called “House Bank” — a loose operation that allowed member of Congress to cash their checks but kept shoddy records and often were quite delayed in recording deposits or withdrawals. Although the lawmakers had broken no laws and many did not even know they were bouncing checks, several took advantage of the bank system and many voters viewed the scandal as a blatant abuse of power. Of the 296 sitting representatives and 59 former members who had overdrafted their personal accounts in the preceding 39 months, the House Ethics Committee released a list of the 24 worst abusers.”
Boxer was among the top 24 involved in the House bank scandal. On March 1, 1992 the Sacramento Bee quoted Boxer as admitting she didn’t pay enough attention to her House bank account. More specifically, that meant 143 bad checks totaling $41,417 over a three-year period that she had written on the House bank.
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,” 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.
What is different this election is the internet, the availability of communicating these abuses and a worthwhile opponent in Carly Fiorina. There will be consequences when California voters wise up and kick Senator Barbara, “The Bouncer” Boxer out of office.