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Every Day is Christmas in the Undrained Swamp

By Doug Powers  •  December 26, 2010 01:12 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

It must be nice to get caught in an “oversight” to the tune of several thousand dollars, and not have to pay an extra penalty of any sort:

U.S. Rep. John Conyers said today he has reimbursed the U.S. Treasury $5,682 to cover any period in which his son could have driven a Cadillac Escalade leased at taxpayer expense.

The Free Press reported last month that John Conyers III had driven the 2010 Escalade Hybrid, registered to his father’s congressional office, at least twice.

Early Thanksgiving morning, the younger Conyers reported to Detroit Police the theft of two computers and $27,000 in concert tickets from the vehicle while parked downtown. The Free Press subsequently found court records showing that the younger Conyers received a speeding ticket while driving the same vehicle in September.

Conyers said he had reimbursed the U.S. Treasury $5,682 based on the “per diem cost of the vehicle for every day my son could conceivably have had access to the vehicle.”

His office did not provide further details on how the reimbursement was calculated, but that amount would be equal to about 4 1/2 months of the lease price.

“It is unlikely that his usage was anywhere near this high,” Conyers said, “but, in an abundance of caution, I want to be sure that there is no cost to the taxpayers whatsoever for any possible non-official use of the car.”

You know you’re dealing with a member of Congress when he considers paying for the use of his own car for just over four months of his 45 years in the House to be excessively punishing himself.

Only in government corruption — er, I mean “rules oversights” — is there often no interest on the principle when it comes to punishment. Wouldn’t life be a lot less stressful if you knew you could “accidentally” fail to report income on your tax forms, knowing that all the IRS would do if they found out would be to make you pay what you owed on that income with no additional fines or other penalties (you might also get offered a position in the Treasury Department). Or what would happen if the police stopped you in the parking lot of a department store, pointed out the flat screen TV you “forgot” you stuffed down the back of your coat, and the only thing the law called for was for you to give the TV back? There wouldn’t be any TVs left in the store within a week, that’s what. But the rules are different in the undrained swamp.

So far the issues of the computers and $27,000 worth of concert tickets have been flying conspicuously under-the-radar in this story.

A little advice for the government: Make sure Conyers’ reimbursement check isn’t drawn on the same account as his drivers license renewal.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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