Evan Bayh is a walking ethics disaster of Clintonian proportions.
The former U.S. senator and governor has been the Democratic Party’s best hope to capture the open Senate seat in Indiana this year. After muscling out a former Democratic congressman who the party primary, Bayh immediately rocketed ahead of his Republican opponent, GOP Congressman Todd Young, in the polls.
According to FiveThirtyEight, and as outlined elsewhere on The Resurgent, Indiana is still a likely Democratic pick-up on election night even as polls show the race tightening, and Donald Trump leading Hillary Clinton at the top of the ballot. A late breaking poll released Friday morning and sponsored by local television station WTHR showed Young beating Bayh, 46% to 41%, with 7% of voters undecided and the remaining claiming they will vote for the Libertarian Party candidate.
A series of ethics problems in Bayh’s background have come to light or resurfaced over the course of the campaign, bedeviling his ability to portray himself as the candid, honest and moderate Democrat Indiana voters elected in the past. A long-time ally of the Clintons, Bayh even endorsed Hillary Clinton in Indiana’s hotly contested 2008 Democratic presidential primary, his association with scandal-ridden political figures seems to be evolving into his own biography.
On Thursday, POLITICO broke the news that Bayh used taxpayer money to stay at hotels mere miles from his Indiana condo when he visited the state in 2009. Bayh represented Indiana in the U.S. Senate until January 2011.
“Former Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh used taxpayer money to stay at hotels in Indianapolis for 14 nights in 2009 despite owning a condominium there, charging more than $2,000 in travel and lodging expenses to his official account, according to his internal schedule and Senate disbursement records.”
Senate rules, POLITICO pointed out, prohibit lawmakers from using taxpayer money for lodging expenses when they are within 35 miles of their “duty station,” defined as their in-state residence during Congressional recess or adjournment and their Washington residence during Senate sessions.
Despite claiming residence at an Indianapolis condo, Bayh never stayed there in 2009, according to POLITICO, and according to an AP investigation he also never stayed there in 2010.
When spending taxpayer money on hotels in his “home” state, Bayh’s preference was for a “quiet room away from the elevators and ice machine” according to an official schedule quoted by POLITICO. Additionally, Bayh liked his room to have extra pillows.
In October, NPR spoke with people who live near Bayh’s condo and found that his neighbors never see him around. Bayh himself even forgot where he lives, “Bayh misstated the address of his Indianapolis condo on local TV news about a month into his contest,” NPR reported.
Another investigation into Bayh’s background found him spending the better part of his final year in office using his Senate connections to find a lucrative private sector job for his post-Senate career. While accepting undisclosed financial favors from one special interest, Bayh also cast votes that directly related to the interests of some of the potential employers he spoke with during that year. Bayh even used taxpayer money to fund some of his job-hunting/networking excursions during his final months in office.
If Bayh wins his race on Tuesday, Indiana voters will be represented in the U.S. Senate by someone whose ethics are eerily similar to those of Hillary Clinton.