First District U.S. Rep. Rod Blum failed to disclose his leading role in creating and operating an online business, Tin Moon Corp., in violation of House ethics rules. And from there, the story first reported by the Associated Press gets even more murky.
Tin Moon marketed its services to companies cited for health or safety violations by federal agencies, promising to bury negative information in internet search results. A now-removed video on Tin Moon’s website featured a Blum congressional aide falsely claiming to be a “satisfied customer” touting Tin Moon’s success.
Blum originally was listed as Tin Moon’s CEO, a title that swiftly changed to “majority shareholder” in the wake of AP’s report. He contends the firm was worth less than $1,000 and was not doing business in 2016 when he failed to disclose his role. At the same time, Tin Moon’s website claims thousands of customers.
Blum has since amended his financial disclosure to correct what he shrugs off as an “administrative oversight.”
“This is yet another desperate, Democratic diversion originated from the career politicians in Washington, D.C., doing everything they can to make sure Nancy Pelosi is Speaker again,” Blum said in the statement. “As a career businessman, I’ll never understand Washington and their practice of the politics of personal destruction. While I regret this administrative oversight, I will not concede to the narrative that this is some sort of a scandal.”
Blum’s response is as troubling as his conduct. Blum could have apologized to his constituents for violating ethics rules, especially since he campaigned on a pledge to change the culture in Congress. He might have conceded that it’s a bad idea for a congressman to potentially profit from efforts to hide federal health and safety information from consumers. Blum could have pledged to dig through his considerable business portfolio to make sure he’s made no other such omissions on disclosures.
Instead, he indignantly passes the buck to partisan politics and downplays his failure to disclose. Instead of taking personal responsibility, he blames the “politics of personal destruction.” That’s disappointing.
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It’s an election year, so 1st District voters will have their chance to weigh in on Blum and his conduct. Perhaps his effort to bury this episode will succeed. Or maybe he’ll be hearing from real, dissatisfied customers.
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