In 2010, Evan Bayh retired from the Senate, telling his constituents that he wanted to return to teaching and to Indiana. Instead, Bayh stayed in Washington and became a lobbyist, until Democrats recruited him to run for his old seat again this year. Bayh has made much of his Indiana roots, but an investigation by the Associated Press shows that he didn’t feel too rooted there in his last year in the Senate. In fact, he never stayed overnight in the condo he cited as his primary residence in the entire year — and spent taxpayer dollars job-hunting in the Big Apple instead:
Evan Bayh says that his Indianapolis condominium has long been his home, and that he has spent “lots and lots” of time there since deciding to run for his old Senate seat. But a copy of his schedule shows Bayh did not stay overnight there once during his last year in office in 2010.
The schedule provided to The Associated Press shows the Democrat spent taxpayer money, campaign funds or let other people pay for him to stay in Indianapolis hotels on the relatively rare occasions he returned from Washington, D.C.
During the same period, he spent $3,000 in taxpayer money on what appeared to be job hunting trips to New York, despite the assertion of his campaign that the trips were devoted to official media appearances. …
Bayh’s schedule shows the four taxpayer-funded trips to New York between September and November 2010 revolved largely around meetings with a veritable who’s who of American banking and finance, as well as a job headhunter.
Bayh calls focus on this a “distraction” but he didn’t think so while running for office before. Supposedly, Bayh got disgusted with money in politics, he’d declared, which is why he claimed to look forward to a return to private life in Indiana:
Perhaps from this starting point, we can move onto more intractable problems, like the current campaign finance system that has such a corrosive effect on Congress. In the Senate, raising in small increments the $10 million to $20 million a competitive race requires takes huge amounts of time that could otherwise be spent talking with constituents, legislating or becoming well-versed on public policy. In my father’s time there was a saying: “A senator legislates for four years and campaigns for two.” Because of the incessant need to raise campaign cash, we now have perpetual campaigns. If fund-raising is constantly on members’ minds, it’s difficult for policy compromise to trump political calculation.
So what did Bayh do after his retirement to address this issue? Ezra Klein described it in 2011:
But Bayh did not return to Indiana to teach. He did not, as he said he was thinking of doing, join a foundation. Rather, he went to the massive law firm McGuire Woods. And who does McGuire Woods work for? “Principal clients served from our Washington office include national energy companies, foreign countries, international manufacturing companies, trade associations and local and national businesses,” reads the company’s Web site. He followed that up by signing on as a senior adviser to Apollo Management Group, a giant public-equity firm. And, finally, this week, hejoined Fox News as a contributor. It’s as if he’s systematically ticking off every poison he identified in the body politic and rushing to dump more of it into the water supply.
The “corrosive system of campaign financing” that Bayh considered such a threat? He’s being paid by both McGuire Woods and Apollo Global Management to act as a corroding agent on their behalf. The “strident partisanship” and “unyielding ideology” he complained was ruining the Senate? At Fox News, he’ll be right there on set while it gets cooked up. His warning that “what is required from members of Congress and the public alike is a new spirit of devotion to the national welfare beyond party or self-interest” sounds, in retrospect, like a joke. Evan Bayh doing performance art as Evan Bayh. Exactly which of these new positions would Bayh say is against his self-interest, or in promotion of the general welfare?
Now it appears that not only did Bayh sell out, he used taxpayer dollars to put himself on the auction block.
Even so, recent polling shows Bayh in the lead in Indiana over challenger Todd Young, who gave up his House seat for a run at the Senate. A Monmouth poll a week ago puts Bayh up six, while a WTHR/Howey poll puts the gap at a single point. Republicans need to hold this seat in order to have a decent chance of keeping control of the Senate, and also to avoid the embarrassment of having both seats from red-state Indiana in the hands of Democrats. Perhaps Indiana voters will ask themselves whether they want to return a Senator to Washington who so thoroughly cashed out at their expense on his last tour.