RICK SANTORUM

01.06.12

Press Hits Santorum As Wheeler-Dealer

Some belated scrutiny of the congressional record that later earned him big bucks.

The media assault on Rick Santorum has begun.

Turns out he was a tough-guy lawmaker who played hardball with lobbyists and made a bundle after leaving the Senate.

In other words, a typical member of Congress.

This is all fair game, mind you. In fact, it's the kind of information the voters of Iowa might have found useful before propelling Santorum into a virtual tie with Mitt Romney in the caucuses (or a victory, if reports of a Romney overcount are to be believed).

But the press didn't care then. Santorum was an also-ran, a loser, a single-digit guy. Until he wasn't.

On Friday morning, the Washington Post informs us that Santorum was a member of the K Street Project, a GOP outfit engineered by Tom DeLay that pressured Beltway lobbying outfits into hiring departing Republican lawmakers and staffers if they wanted to remain in the majority's good graces.

"K STREET KING," blared the Huffington Post.

This was indeed an unattractive bit of legislative strong-arming. It was also widely reported at the time, as was Santorum's habit of voting for big-spending Bush programs and bringing home plenty of earmarked pork to the folks in Pennsylvania.

The Post is joined by the New York Times in reporting that Santorum made $1.3 million in 2010 and the first half of 2011 by selling his services to various industry groups, and in a similar vein as Newt Gingrich, Santorum was not registered as a lobbyist. For instance, after pushing two bills in the Senate to steer hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicare money to Puerto Rican hospitals, the ex-senator joined the board of United Health Services, where he hauled in $395,000 in fees and stock options.

And how did investigative reporters unearth this information? It was in his financial disclosure form.

A Santorum spokesman dismissed such criticism as the work of "D.C. Insiders and elites."

This is exactly the kind of scrutiny that a presidential candidate should be receiving. Too bad the media didn't take Santorum seriously enough to provide it until now.