Dick Durbin's wife discovered to be a Lobbyist

The Chicago Tribune headlines that Dick Durbin’s wife is a lobbyist, and that there may have been instances in which her clients received federal funding.  We are quickly told that this was just a coincidence (and that our fly is open).

Durbin explained that he and his wife “take pains” to be certain there are no conflicts of interest.  The imagery of sleepless nights and “Honey, what shall we do?” conversations wrought with forehead wiping and hand wringing come to mind.  How could they ever get in such situations? 

The Tribune reports that despite all the painstaking efforts assuredly taken by Durbin and his wife to avoid conflicts,” Loretta Durbin’s clients have received federal funding promoted by her husband….”  How could this be?

The Tribune continues,

Among the areas of overlap in the Durbins’ careers: her firm getting a one-year contract with a housing nonprofit group around the time the senator went to bat for the organization and others like it; a state university receiving funds earmarked by Durbin when his wife was its lobbyist; and Durbin arranging federal money for a public health nonprofit when his wife was seeking state support for the same group.

They are doing “good work” it appears.  We are lucky to have them, right?

Two public clients — Naperville and Eastern Illinois University — have paid Loretta Durbin’s lobbying firm a total of more than $1 million, according to records.” Her firm is headquartered in non other than the state capital of Springfield.  Another coincidence.

Other clients of Loretta Durbin’s Springfield-based firm have included nonprofit social service agencies as well as heavy hitters such as Chicago Title Insurance Co., pharmaceutical giant Wyeth and wholesale beverage distributor Wirtz Corp. Her firm has lobbied the governor’s office, the General Assembly and state agencies such as the Department of Public Health, Department of Human Services and Department of Transportation, records show.”

In addition to earmarks, the Tribune asked Durbin and his staff about 10 grants that were announced by the senator’s office and awarded to Loretta Durbin’s clients. The senator said he had not weighed in on any of the grants.…

They just went through his office. Durbin’s son is also a registered lobbyist.

Additionally, Durbin has denied using the IRS as a political weapon when he single(d) out a key GOP group in a 2010 letter to the IRS.

Because the lobbying was done at the state level, Senate ethics have not been violated, we are told. The fact that federal money, taxpayer money, is involved seems to be lost on the Senate ethics rules. What we have here is merely a United States Senator with a family of lobbyists plying their trade in Illinois, a trade which involves the directing and dispensing of federal money.  What’s new?